|Vehicle:||1985 Toyota Land Cruiser BJ40|
|Original List Price:||$10,348|
|Tune Up Cost:||$100|
|Chassis Number Location:||Outer right frame rail, behind front bumper|
|Engine Number Location:||Right side of engine block, above starter|
|Club Info:||Toyota Land Cruiser Association|
|Alternatives:||1954–83 Jeep CJ-5, 1948–85 Land Rover Series, 1961–80 International Harvester Scout|
This vehicle, Lot 166, sold for $87,360, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ auction in Greenwich, CT, on June 3, 2018.
The pre-auction estimate for this fully restored classic Toyota Land Cruiser was $65,000 to $85,000, and neither the vehicle nor the bidders disappointed anyone. Prices have been rising on the gas-powered FJ and the diesel-drinking BJ variants for decades, and with this sale it’s safe to say that the ruggedest Toyotas are now premium collectibles.
A knock-off Jeep
Toyota first conceived the Land Cruiser as a Jeep clone. In August of 1950, the U.S. Army asked Toyota to build a prototype “Jeep” based on the Willys-Overland M38 spec. Toyota built the vehicles for use in the Korean War and by the Japanese police, putting the prototype together in five months.
Then, in classic Japanese fashion, they set out to improve the design.
Taking elements from Land Rover Series 1 as well as the Jeep, Toyota produced the first BJ vehicles in 1951. One major difference between the Willys Jeep and the early Toyotas was that even though the BJ had the ability to shift between RWD and 4WD, the transfer case was a single-speed unit. So the Toyota had no low range until 1960. But by 1955 Toyota was calling the new vehicles Land Cruisers and selling them to the public.
A long life
The Land Cruiser had its most prolific run from the 1960 introduction of the J40 model to the end of formal J40 production in 1984.
By 1965, the J40 had been Toyota’s biggest seller in America for several years, and by 1973 Toyota had built over 300,000 J40 vehicles of various types. Buyers could get the J40 as a 2-door soft top or hard top, a 2-door with a pickup bed or as a 4-door wagon.
Engine options evolved over the 25-year production run. The Type F gas engines were popular in North America, giving the Land Cruiser its popular FJ40 insider name. The rest of the world preferred the Type B diesel engines, and those are known as BJ40s. Trivia buffs will want to note that the BJ in this designation is not related to the original BJ vehicle name from the 1950s.
The subject vehicle was built right at the end of the formal J40 production run. Theoretically, 1984 was the last model year of production. This one is listed as a 1985, according to Bonhams, but it’s not likely to be an important distinction.
At the close of 1984, Toyota officially changed over to the J70 Land Cruiser, a longer and more SUV-like vehicle, although in world-market form it could still be ordered as a soft top, hard top, pickup, wagon or van. But in a bit of good news for J40 lovers, Toyota do Brasil kept right on building the old J40 until 2001 under the “Toyota Bandeirante” nameplate. From 1968 to 1993, these Brazilian J40s came with Mercedes-Benz diesel engines, and from 1994 to 2001 with newer Toyota diesels.
Toyota J40 models of any kind are prized collectibles today, and in good condition they bring good money.
Hemmings lists two full pages of private-party sales, with most decent examples carrying asking prices in the $30,000–$40,000 range. The SCM Platinum Auction Database shows dozens of J40 Land Cruisers crossing auction blocks this year with sale prices ranging from $9,900 (SCM# 6867583) to $154,000 (SCM# 6858377), although most sales fall between $20,000 and $60,000.
The subject vehicle
The BJ40 auctioned during the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance weekend was the recipient of a fresh and seemingly perfect resto-modification, with tasteful upgrades that will make this Land Cruiser fun, comfortable, useful and reliable. The auction listing also included dozens of photographs of the finished product and the restoration process, so the buyer could bid with confidence. Well played, seller.
Among the photos was the all-important shot of the original build plate, which identifies this BJ40 as a European-spec LHD unit built at the Toyota Honsya plant, which had been building Land Cruisers since 1953. The plate also indicates that the 3.0-liter Type B engine and 4-speed transmission are native to the vehicle.
Based on the level of restoration, the bid price was right in the fat part of the bell curve for Land Cruisers. Assuming the new owner takes good care of this BJ40, it should hold that value and appreciate. It’s easy to rate this one as well bought and well sold.
A wide-open market
The takeaway from this sale is that the market for Land Cruisers is wide open. There are plenty of them, and they’re changing hands in healthy numbers. Sellers don’t appear to have inflated notions of value based on the range of asking prices and successful sales, and buyers are bringing respectable money to the top restored examples.
About the only losers in this scenario are the hardcore 4X4 enthusiasts who have prized the Land Cruiser for decades as an indestructible off-road machine. The market is going to make the J40 far too valuable for that kind of abuse very soon — even if it is what they were built for.
If you want to go exotic, it’s still possible to buy a used Bandeirante out of South America, although the potential condition of a used J40 pulled from the Amazon jungle may make local purchase a wiser move. If you decide to go hunting in the rain forest, remember that Bandeirantes made through 1993 are now importable under the 25-year rule, and that 1993 was the first year for a 5-speed manual transmission paired with the most powerful of the Mercedes diesel engines.
Go ahead, we’ll hold your beer. ♦
(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)