Toyota Land Cruiser, Japan
The Toyota Land Cruiser has been in production by the Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan since 1951. Although the origins of a light four-wheel drive 'jeep-like' vehicle are almost certainly earlier during World War II. Toyota produced a Toyota BJ Jeep for the US military during the Korean War and this seems to be the origin of the Land Cruiser known today.
The name Land Cruiser was coined because of the success of the Land Rover in the UK because Toyota wanted a similar dignified name for their own vehicle to give it an identity and appeal to the commercial market. As with many four-wheel drive vehicles the Toyota Land Cruiser had its origins in military use. Although the Land Cruiser is now in its ninth generation with the recently released (2008) 200 series it still remains a useful military support vehicle.
Military Toyota Land Cruisers
Although a number of armies have stayed true to their tried-and-tested support vehicle formats (an example being the British Army's use of the Land Rover since 1948) the Land Cruiser has a great deal of impact itself in military and police use.
The Australian military have used them for over 50 years (from the 40 series up to the 70 series in both open top and sedan versions) probably because of the supply line from Japan being a lot easier. Toyota Land Cruisers are used a lot in Australia as government vehicles. The Land Cruiser has also been a very popular vehicle in the Australian commercial market, known for its reliability over very rough ground and in increased temperatures.
The Land Cruiser has seen military application across the world with forces in the Middle East, Asia, South America, and even by the US in the first Gulf War and more recently in Afghanistan (maybe some Toyota Tacomas in Afghanistan). In fact it is said that General Norman Schwartzkopf used an 80 series Land Cruiser during the first Gulf conflict.
LC 100 models prepared in Australia and with independent front suspension (better for sand dunes) instead of the more robust solid axle are currently in use in Baghdad.
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Military Land Cruiser modifications
Some of the modifications in Australian military versions include armour plating, ARB snorkels and exhaust modifications, military-specification tyres, auxiliary fuel tanks, water tanks, bumper winches and steel transport racks on the roof.
The classic military guise of this vehicle is with a light machine gun mounted on the flat bed at the front over the cab roof able to fire 360°. Uses are as a light personnel carrier (sedan version and open back), light rapid response vehicle (with open back and machine gun), as an emergency fire tender and as staff cars.
Toyota Tacomas have been used by the US Special Forces in Afghanistan and were purchased from showrooms in the US and pressed into service with very little modification at all.
The Land Cruiser is available with a number of different engine specifications including 5.7l 381hp dual VVTi V8 petrol, 4.7l 288hp VVTi V8 petrol, 4.5l 286hp intercooled twin turbo D-4D V8 diesel and 4.0l 240hp DOHC with VVT-i petrol.
There are also a variety of transmission options including: six-speed automatic, five-speed automatic and five-speed manual (military use would probably stipulate the manual transmission).