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the J6 Landcruiser

The year 1980 was a year of heavy metal. Iron Maiden and other rock acts blessed the world with a rising tide of British heavy metal; AC/DC set new standards in Australian heavy metal with their album Back in Black, and out of Nippon rolled a new wave of Japanese heavy metal: the Land Cruiser J6.
At the end of the Sixties, Toyota created a new vehicle class with its FJ55, which perfectly captured the spirit of the time. But it was a rapidly evolving market, and by the mid-1970s it was obvious that the J5 would soon become a slow seller. As a luxury station wagon" it was gradually falling behind the competition. Beginning in 1974, the Jeep Wagoneer and its cousin, the Cherokee, offered more luxury features, and in the 1970s British competitor Land Rover had also received a number of upgrades. In the USA, the J5 was still well-liked, but in Europe it led a shadow existence. At its introduction to the German market in 1977, its styling, equipment and technical specifications were already out of step with the public's expectations.
Chief engineer Hiroshi Ohsawa and his team began planning its successor in 1976. The design targets were quickly established: simply "more of everything." More space, more comfort, more luxury, more the appearance of a passenger car — and all while maintaining, it goes without saying, a high level of off-road capability. Thanks to lively competition, the U.S. market in particular once again served as a yardstick. In 1975, Toyota shipped 328,000 vehicles to the USA, even though the first oil crisis of 1973-74 had cut into sales.
In 1976, sales in the Japanese home market dropped dramatically, sidetracking Toyota's self-imposed goals. The result WAS a significantly tougher competitive environment and with it shorter model cycles, Genuine innovations became ever more mportant, and in export markets above all, it gradually became obvious that fuel economy and exhaust emissions were not in significant factors. Especially in German-speaking Europe, the 1970s witnessed the rise of an environmental movement that gained even more momentum beginning in 1980. "Forest dieback" (Waldsterben) was the topic of the day, the Green Party was founded, and the outbreak of the first Gulf War shocked the world. Gas-guzzling machinery was not exactly high on the target customers' shopping lists.
Toyota enjoyed first-class engineering and manufacturing facilities, and was flexible enough to meet this shift in demand in short order with new models. Appropriately, Toyota concentrated on exports, with the focus on the European market; anything that could be sold there would also sell well in the USA.

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Just in time for the second oil crisis in 1979, Toyota presented a range of economical, affordable, and above all practical cars like the Corolla and Carina. And the big Land Cruiser was to be made more efficient: Japanese customers in particular clamored for a diesel station wagon. And there it was, the J6. In August 1980, Iichi Shingu, who replaced Hiroshi Ohsawa as chief engineer after the latter was called away to take over Hilux development, presented the new vehicle. It was a vehicle that would determine the Land Cruiser's future course.
A Japanese GX high roof with two-tone paint, rear door and original mount for reserve fuel canister.
For the first time (after more than 900,000 examples had been built by the end of 1980), Toyota presented a Land Cruiser without the prominent free-standing front fenders. But the stylists did retain some hint of their former
existence: Running forward from the wide rocker panel, a crease climbed sharply toward the A-pillar, imitating the line of the erstwhile fender, then ran across the lower lip of the front hood to the other side. The effect gave the J6 a fat-cheeked look. This styling feature and the now straight-sided engine hood gave the front of the J6 an extremely muscular appearance. This was a towering mountain of a car, and its massive styling was an out standing reflection of its on-the-road feel. Despite all this, the exterior appearance was more that of a passenger car than a truck.

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Overall, the body styling made a much smoother impression than that of its predecessor. This was mostly due to improved metalworking capabilities. After all, the new station wagon still had the basic geometric shape of a shoebox, even if the sides and tail showed more tumblehome than those of the J5. The concept made (and still makes) sense, because in the end, it's all about creating interior space while minimizing exterior dimensions. And the J6 truly did offer space: With the same overall length, it was 6 cm (nearly 2 1/2 inches) lower and 6 cm wider than the J5 and offered passengers more rear knee room thanks to a 3 cm (just over an inch) longer wheelbase.
The rear of the J6 was tailored without any frills or gimmicks. In keeping with the vehicle type, its lines were dominated by flat surfaces. Choices included a horizontally split tailgate or double swing-out doors, symmetrically split as on the predecessor and again blocking a portion of the rearward view. The rear side windows could be single-piece or include a sliding version to provide third-row passengers with fresh air.
Over the years, there were few body changes, except for one major revision program. Most of these minor changes were limited to differences in equipment choices. The higher-end equipment packages had chrome trim around the headlamp units, and later on the doors and roof gutters. Chrome bumpers and chrome mirror housings were also available. In Japan, the mirrors were customarily mounted on the front fenders; in export models, on the doors. At the beginning, the mirrors
closely resembled those of the J5. These were later replaced by a significantly higher quality (and more vibration-resistant) version. In October 1982, the low standard roof was complemented by a 100 millimeter (4 inch) taller "high roof" option, which significantly increased the already generous interior space. Introduction of the high roof was more a product of market placement than necessity. Not least as a result of the introduction of Mitsubishi's Pajero (Montero in the U.S. market) in that year, high-roof sedans or sedanlike wagons became very popular. The J6, upgraded inside and out, had no reason to shy away from market competitors.

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The 1988 model year saw a significant facelift. The round, friendly headlamps gave way to rectangular, chrome-rimmed double headlamps, and the turn signals moved outward to the fenders and forward below the headlamps, leaving in their place only the marker lamps. The J6 now had a more determined look about it, which fitted perfectly with the turbodiesel engine introduced in 1985. Beginning in 1988, both the standard and high roof models were available in bicolor versions: Charcoal Grey/Silver Blue, Champagne/Brown, Champagne/Warm Grey or Light Blue/Dark Grey provided a pleasant contrast to the customary color choices of the 1980s. These appeared decidedly upscale, and even today are considered among the most attractive Land Cruiser color combinations.
The overall design struck a chord with the all-important U.S. audience, and was very positively accepted in other markets. With the J6, the Land Cruiser station wagon had finally taken the last step toward becoming a luxury off-roader — a vehicle that was not only roomy, robust, and off-road capable, but also modern and comfortable. This cleared the way for comfortable everyday use in every conceivable application, without needing to accept significant compromise — a fundamental pre-requisite for impressive sales numbers.
The interior of the J6 was a bold stroke compared to the previous Land Cruiser models. It had an attractive instrument panel design, with new gauges, adjustable air vents, new and modern switches and levers, cloth-upholstered seats, plush carpeting, padded headliner, door trim panels — far and wide, there was no bare metal to be seen. At its introduction, the J6 had reclining seats, height-adjustable steering wheel, delayed windshield wipers, headlamp cleaning system, rear wiper with washer, separate heater for the rear-seat occupants, halogen headlamps, tinted glass, automatic seat belt retractors at the front (and, from 1987, at the rear), locking glove compartment, day/night inside rear view mirror...we can see where this is going. Even in its base version, the J6 offered more opulent equipment than the J4 and J5, combined, ever had. Naturally, Toyota profited from its own passenger car development programs, which had been upgraded and spurred onward in the preceding years, always with an eye toward satisfying customers' demands. This provided the Land Cruiser development department with the tools to advance their own platform. The result was indeed an amazingly luxurious off-road vehicle, whose interior appointments approached the comfort of many a passenger car, yet under the skin remained a dyed-in-the-wool off-road vehicle. This was a concept that was now ready to take off, and would become the foundation for all of its successors.
In a press kit dated 1981, Toyota of Germany wrote "After fourteen years of production, the successor model to the station wagon combines durability, performance potential and off-road capability with the amenities of a comfortably equipped passenger car, without accepting any compromises in either direction." Depending on configuration, the J6 could be equipped as a 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10-seater; long live diversity. On the front passenger side, that infamous promoter of dose interpersonal contact, the bench seat, was available. The second seat row could be ordered with a single or symmetrically split, folding seatbacks. The third row consisted of the familiar side-mounted fold-down longitudinal benches, each holding two persons, or, in some markets, a third rear bench seat for three, also symmetrically split and foldable. Added up, one could, in the dense-pack configuration, have three occupants on a front bench seat, three more in the middle row, and two each on side-mounted benches at the rear. The reader is advised not to spend much time wondering just how such a feat of human compaction could be accomplished in real life; Japanese developers employ a completely different concept of personal space than, for example, any central European would be prepared to accept. Entry to the third seat row was through the rear side doors on tailgate versions (i.e. those with a horizontally divided rear hatch), or through the rear doors if so equipped.
Without third-row seats, a 1.16 meter (44 inch) long cargo floor was available. With the second-row seatbacks folded up and locked, the floor was 1.78 meters (70 inches) long, with an impressive total volume of 2760 liters (97.5 cubic feet) — enough to live quite comfortably even on long trips.
The seating position was very pleasant, the seats comfortable and the switches and controls located exactly where they belonged. Everything was easily reached, and functioned with the typical tactile feedback found in equipment of the 1980s. Plastic components had a solid, smooth feel, as if they could last for decades. And, in retrospect, they have done exactly that. In short, the J6 was the first genuine "living room on wheels" in which one could enjoy a feeling of overall comfort. Writing at the time of the J6 introduction in 1981, Toyota Germany wrote "The full carpeting and corresponding sound insulation are first-class attributes."
Along with the luxury version, with its plush wall-to-wall floor coverings, there was of course also a simple vinyl version, whose more basic interior appealed to a target group that simply desired a utilitarian machine in which one didn't have to worry about the carpeting.
In 1982, a minor model change took place. An "equipment package' was introduced for the first time. As an alternative to the basic equipment, the HJ60 and BJ61 could be ordered as "GX" models, which included the high roof, five-speed transmission, power sunroof, remote adjustable outside mirrors, and several other features. This, too, set a course for the future; right to the present day, equipment lines determine Toyota's model policies, even if there are regional differences between variations.
Three years later, in 1985, the GX was joined by an even more upscale version, the VX. In 1988, the FJ62 with high roof and VX equipment was certified for the first time as a passenger car in Japan. This proved to be a real door-opener to Japan's wider market for personal cars.
Drivetrain and Suspension
The objective of the new station wagon was comfort, and this applied above all to its suspension characteristics. The concept of independent front suspension had been discussed internally, but "fortunately,' as the purists cried in relief) it was tabled — for the time being. This was done primarily for the benefit of the Land Cruiser's existing reputation for uncompromising off-road capability, which Toyota was reluctant to put at risk. Ultimately, the chassis, axles, and suspension of the J5 were adapted with only minor modifications, and with significantly softer springing. The front axle could be ordered with optional ventilated disc brakes (a first for the Land Cruiser), while the rear axle retained the familiar drum brakes.
Suspension tuning also influenced a different, interesting aspect. The Land Cruiser, especially the earlier J5, had become quite popular in the Middle East. There, the vehicles were not simply loaded to the brim with cargo; often as not, they were overloaded. The preferred method was to pile jerrycans full of fuel on the roof. This did not improve the stability of the J5, already on the tall side and not blessed with a particularly wide track. The result was the occasional, unconventional off-course excursion. Accordingly, the new station wagon was made a bit lower, and the track widened by 60 mm (2.4 inches). A front anti-roll bar was added. These changes provided a markedly flatter cornering attitude, putting the J6 at the head of its vehicle class. For comparison, anyone who has tried to simply maintain a straight course in its competitor, the British-built Range Rover of the early 1980s, is well aware of the difference.
Power was transmitted to the rear wheels through a four-speed manual transmission. The front hubs could be locked manually and four-wheel drive selected "on the fly." A transfer case provided low-range gearing. As an alternative to the differential brake for the rear axle, mechanically locking front and rear differentials were available, selectable by means of two levers on the central tunnel. In 1983, the four-speed transmission was replaced by a five-speed that had already seen service in the J4.
In November 1984, in combination with the 3F engine, a four-speed automatic transmission with shorter final drive ratio and overdrive joined the lineup — the first automatic transmission to be installed in a Japanese 4x4. Needless to say, this particular combination was a hot seller in the USA.
Unsurprisingly, the automatic was not available in the German market, where customers preferred to row their own way through the gears. In 1984, the manual version of the HJ60 appeared in the German price lists at 39,770 Deutschmarks (about US,000).
In August 1986, the electropneumatic actuator for the four-wheel drive and locking differentials, already in service for a year on the J7, was added to the J6 line. This was activated by a pushbutton. The engagement sequence was mechanically predetermined: first the rear differential, then the front. To this day, Toyota has remained true to this policy of making certain choices on behalf of the driver, for safety reasons. In parallel to the five-speed manual or the automatic transmission, the old four-speed transmission was installed for certain markets. Some markets also retained manual selection of four-wheel drive.
The suspension was again modified as part of the 1987 model revisions, with 10 percent softer spring rates. The J6 adopted the basic engineering features of its predecessor: ladder frame, solid axles, leaf springs, rear-wheel drive, selectable four-wheel drive, manual locking front hubs, the same four-speed transmission as the J4, transfer case. This simple, proven, fault-resistant configuration was perfect for the new station wagon at the time of its introduction. The target customers naturally expected a modern vehicle, but wanted a proven, familiar, reliable drive- train design. Robust, simple, and easily maintained - the best recipe for success in the 4x4 market.
While Land Cruiser engine choices remained quite straightforward well into the 1970s, Toyota expanded the menu of available powerplants with the J4, and again with the J6. In parallel or sequentially, and above all according to region, a 313, 2H, 12H-T, 2F, 3F, or 3F-E might be found toiling away under a Land Cruiser hood.
"More of everything" was the familiar strategy in developing the J6 - with one exception: fuel consumption. The FJ55 was, and remained, a gas guzzler, and engine evolution from F to 2F did little to change that. In the homeland of dipsomaniac automobiles, the USA, this had little effect on the sales success of the Iron Pig. In other important markets, however, this trait gradually became a real sales handicap. While the U.S. market continued to covet large-displacement gasoline engines, the Canadians developed a keen interest in diesel engines. Even today, a diesel J6 is a genuine, extremely desirable rarity in the U.S. In Germany, it was precisely the opposite: There, two-thirds of Land Cruisers sold in 1980 were diesel models. In Japan, too, in the era of the J5, there was a growing need for a roomy, diesel-powered off-road vehicle. This need was satisfied by im planting the brand-new 3B engine in the J6 to create the BJ60 - but only for a few selected markets including Japan and Canada. In 1988, the inline injection pump of the 3B was replaced by a distributor pump, turning the BJ60 into the BJ61.
At the time of the J6 introduction, the BJ60 appeared alongside an FJ60 powered by the familiar 2F engine that had already seen service in the J4 and J5. This is the form in which the J6 was introduced in Germany, but due to lukewarm demand, the gasoline engine was stricken from the program in 1983.
The third engine in the triad was the incredible 2H, a normally-aspirated diesel powerhouse without peer at the time. Also installed in the HJ47 since August 1980, this engine achieved glory and honor when installed in the J6. The combination of four-liter six-cylinder normally-aspirated diesel and Land Cruiser station wagon was simply a perfect fit. The 105 horsepower available at 3500 rpm - remembering that more than 4000 rpm just weren't in it - was a somewhat meager yield, but for that, the engine hummed right along, smooth, capable, and sonorous - a veritable joy. One could also say that for the power delivered, the engine was pleasantly oversized. Its peak torque of 241 Nm (178 lb-ft) at just 1800 rpm was more than adequate to ensure forward progress under any conditions. The secret of its outward calm was, not least, its seven-bearing crankshaft, guaranteeing silky-smooth operation. The camshaft was driven by gears (instead of chains) for low maintenance. The entire mill was started or stopped by the occasionally temperamental ERIC (Electronic Diesel Injection Control) system.
The H engine was the spiritual brother of the F motor; simple, solid, hopelessly oversized, and graced with the all the agility of a steam engine. Fancy footwork was really not its forte; it might be better employed as a stationary powerplant. And no wonder, seeing as the H had been developed by Hino to power that firm's own forklifts.
The next model change, in November 1984, saw a new addition to the engine palette. To at least effect some small improvements in exhaust emissions and fuel economy, and for increased engine smoothness, the 2F was made somewhat lighter and more compact, and was fitted with a new crankshaft as well as higher (8.1:1) compression ratio. With displacement now reduced to 3955 cc, the new engine was named the 3F and delivered all of 1.37 horsepower at. 4220 rpm. Land Cruiser models equipped with the 3F bore the FJ62 designation_
In October 1985, Toyota took a bold step in the engine department. The 2H was given a turbocharger, new cylinder head, and a modified engine block with a different ccrankshaft and pistons. It was now a direct-injection engine, ,called the 12H-T, and brought about fundamental changes in r he Toyota world. Its four liters of displacement delivered a satisfying 136 hp at 3500 rpm, quite a pleasant state of affairs. Torque, however, was a phenomenal 315 Nm (232 lb-ft) at just 1800 rpm. These performance figures, combined with its smooth operating characteristics and particular snappy throttle response, made this particular Land Cruiser variant, the HJ61, a genuine pile driver of a truck. And this came with the same or even better fuel economy numbers compared to its decidedly more lethargic brother, the 2H engine. It is for good reason that even today, the 12H-T is regarded as one of the best engines ever designed by Toyota, and is therefore keenly sought out as an "organ transplant" for other Land Cruiser models.
The year 1985 also saw the introduction of a direct-injection turbodiesel version of the aging 3B engine, the 13B-T. However, this most excellent engine was never offered in the J6, even though it would have been a good fit. The reason was simple: The station wagon represented luxury, and for those customers, abundant engine displacement was simply expected. Actual performance was less important than impressive numbers on the spec sheet. In 1988, the 3F was given electronic controls to become the
3F-E. The station wagon, still designated FJ62, now developed an impressive 155 horsepower. Finally, it returned better fuel consumption figures, and even allowed installation of a three-way catalytic converter. Yet this was only a minor improvement on the F engine, and did not eliminate its intrinsic disadvantages. No matter how one looked at it, the F engine was getting long in the tooth, and by now even the customers were beginning to realize that.
Anyone who believes they've finally waded through Land Cruiser model history and now posses the insight of a true expert should refrain from celebrating just yet. In principle, the HJ61 followed the HJ60, as one would expect, and at least in the European market this sequence is set in stone. The crux of the thing is that the HJ60 remained on the market, even if only selected markets, but in those, it even boasted the new front-end appearance.
As already mentioned, the J6 set the course for the Land Cruiser's future. For the first time, its designers were guided not by the suggestion of a straightforward piece of industrial machinery, but rather created an appealing, passenger-carlike exterior. For the first time, the Land Cruiser was a plush, luxurious, electronics-filled vehicle. And for the first time, two parallel visions crystallized: one equipped with only the bare essentials — the "workhorse" — and one the luxury version. The annual "minor model change" was first applied to the J6, and since then has guided the evolution of the Land Cruiser. In December 1989, after a production run of 406,700 examples, the last J6 rolled off the assembly line. It was built in Japan as well as Cumaná, Venezuela, where it was sold as the Land Cruiser Samurai. Of those built in Japan, 370,000 were exported; just under 40,000 stayed in their native land.
All around the globe, one still encounters specimens of the J6 breed. They are seldom pampered, usually just put to work on the task at hand. As this book goes to press, in Europe the J6 is only now transcending its existence as a utilitarian machine, to be used and used up without regard to losses. Its status is gradually shifting from "old car" to "collector's item." A growing number of owners lavish attention on their J6, from meticulous upkeep all the way to complete restoration, instead of merely keeping the old machine running, "converting" them to the point of unrecognizability (as seems customary in the USA or Japan), tearing them up off-road or as tow vehicles, or exporting them to collectors halfway around the globe. Gradually, the J6 is becoming a vintage car.
In the USA, when it comes to conversions of these old station wagons, anything goes. Big, luxurious wagons, including the J6, are favored — and especially the J6, as it is affordable and easily maintained. In off-road use, though, because a stock J6 tends to bottom out or get high-centered, many examples have been "lifted" beyond all reasonable limits. Bottom line, the J6 still has some tough years ahead of it. By the time it finally achieves the status of a valuable classic,
the number of surviving interesting examples will have been severely reduced. Lucky indeed will be the owner who can call a solid, restorable example his or her own.

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