Die Cast X|Fall 2020
You have to squint pretty hard to see the Toyota FJ roots beneath the slick exterior of the modern-day Lexus LX series SUV. The earliest FJs were two-door utilitarian off-roaders—quite literally Japanese knock-offs of the original Jeep CJ—and by the 1960s Toyota’s signature 4x4 had developed quite a following both for its reliability and for its terrain-conquering prowess. But for all their strengths, two things those FJs were not were roomy and comfortable, so in 1963—in response to growing demand in the USA and elsewhere— Toyota added a long-wheelbase 4-door version of the iconic FJ40 Land Cruiser dubbed the FJ45. In 1967 that evolved into its own distinct model, the FJ55—a homely but nigh indestructible wagon that came to be nicknamed the “Iron Pig.”
Offering seating for up to seven and in more comfort than preceding models, the FJ55 can be described as Toyota’s first “luxury” SUV, although its interiors were pretty spartan by today’s standards and it retained superior all-terrain capability. The FJ55 evolved into the FJ60 series in 1980 and then into the FJ80 in 1990, each adding successively more creature comforts. A huge bump in power arrived in 1992 when the aging F-series OHV Inline-6 was replaced by the new DOHC FZ (thereby dropping the “F” from the J80 designation). In 1995 Toyota finally fully embraced the concept of the luxury SUV by introducing a version of the J80 for its North American prestige nameplate Lexus called the LX450.
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