Meet the Land Cruiser

Our Home on Wheels

We drive a Land Cruiser BJ45. No, the Land Cruiser was not built in 1945 as some Surinamese assume(d), as in their country BJ stands for Bouwjaar (Year of Construction). The Land Cruiser dates from 1984.

The famous 3B Engine

Diesel

Great milage, low maintenance.

3.500cc

Or, 3.5 liters.

No Turbo

All natural aspirated.

24 volt

Great for cranking.

Why this Land Cruiser?

Before our journey we had no clue what car to buy but that we didn't want to spend much money on it. After all, every penny spent on stuff can’t be spent traveling.

What car would be good to drive to Asia with? We asked on a forum and this was the unanimous answer:

“A Toyota Land Cruiser. It can be fixed anywhere. Make sure to buy one from before 1987, when it was still made entirely mechanical.”

We followed the experts and bought this Land Cruiser.

Has it been a good buy?

Yes. This Land Cruiser has become our home, our comfort zone. We love traveling in it despite the continuous maintenance (see below).

On size:

It’s relatively small so driving through narrow streets is easy. On the other hand, its height – 2.7 meters (8.8ft) due to a 25-cm extension + a roof rack with stuff – has caused problems. The Land Cruiser doesn’t fit in underground parking lots and has faced other barriers (e.g low bridges, low entrances to courtyards or car workshops). In forests we've had to cut branches when driving on a slant on narrow trails with rutted tracks.

On comfort:

In South and Southeast Asia we lived mostly outside, sleeping in our rooftop tent. We had all we needed.

In South America, however, this was not always the case. Cold and rainy weather in Patagonia and the Andes forced us to spend many hours if not days – and even weeks – cooped up inside. We came to acknowledge the advantages of more comfortable rigs. Among our favorites are the Volkswagen Combi and the small Iveco 4×4.

The perfect car:

What we learned is that the perfect rig does not exist. It all depends on where you go, when, for how long, and what your comfort level is. And, as you can see, this can change.

The Stats

2003 - 2006

75,460

kilometers

59

kms / day

1,160

days spent

9,308

liters of diesel

0,49

average in €

2007 - 2015

142,348

kilometers

51

kms / day

3,084

days spent

19,278

liters of diesel

0,65

average in €

2016 - sep'17

16,202

kilometers

35

kms / day

460

days spent

2,215

liters of diesel

0,86

average in €

Total              Oct'17

233,110

kilometers

50

kms / day

4,704

days spent

31,531

liters of diesel

0,70

average in €

Maintenance & Breakdowns

The road conditions in South America demanded much more maintenance on the Land Cruiser (or any other vehicle for that matter) than those in Asia. The latter mostly has asphalt roads whereas South America was largely unpaved (at least where we drove). The roads in the Far East are perfectly tarred but the Landcruiser Community in Japan has given our home on wheels some much appreciated TLC.

We regularly visit workshops to fix/replace/adjust leaf springs, shock absorbers, batteries, tires, and so on. Among the problems the Land Cruiser has caused:

Waterpump

Turkey, 2003: Replaced after it started dripping.

Starter Batteries

India, 2004: Replaced after learning we needed to top up the waterlevels.

Overhaul

Cambodia, 2006 (2-week job): The first complete overhaul of the drivetrain.

Leaf Springs

On numerous occasions: Either replaced broken parts or re-arched the existing ones.

Starter Batteries

Paraguay, 2007: Replaced after the positive cable of the winch had worn away and caused a short, which ruined the batteries.

Exhaust

On several occasions: Replaced rusted-through tail pipes. Brazil, 2007: An upgrade with lots of stainless steel parts.

Engine Mounts

Chile, 2008: Custom-made rubber parts as the original parts would have a 6 week delivery on it.

2nd Batteries

Argentina, 2008: Replaced with deep cycle AGM batteries.

Restoration

Bolivia, 2010 (5-month job): A part of the chassis broke off and we could no longer postpone what we dreaded: a massive overhaul.

Clutch

Bolivia, 2010: Replaced preventively.

Radiator

On the road, 2003-2009: Fixed many leaks. Bolivia, 2010: Replaced the core. Japan, 2017: Replaced for a new, original Toyota radiator.

Glow Plugs

Brazil, 2010: Explosion of a glow plug as a result of the badly done overhaul job badly done in Bolivia.

Alu Welding

Brazil, 2011 (3-week job): The roof was taken off to weld the front corners between the bodywork and the aluminium extension.

Disk Brake

Suriname, 2011: Replaced disks and front shock absorbers as well at the tie-rod ends.

More Rust

Guyana, 2015: The Land Cruiser was emptied out once more for a big welding job of the bodywork.

Frame Crack

Ecuador, 2014 (4-week job): Rust removal wheel rims, suspension improvement and welding of yet another crack in the frame.

Remodeling

Suriname, 2015: Installing a water system and remodeling the interior.

Overhaul

Japan, 2016 (3-week job): Replacement for many brand-new Toyota parts; waterpump, radiator, brake master, clutch master & slave, and more.

Clutch

Japan, 2017: Stranded with a broken spring in the clutch and upgraded to a heavy duty Dyna version.

Disk Brake

Japan, 2017: Replaced the disks as a result of (a suddenly) poor working of the breaks.

We feel lucky to have met numerous workshop owners and mechanics who went out of their way to help us. Apart from the massive overhaul in Bolivia, which was a disastrous experience in many ways and an ugly welding job in Guyana, our experiences have largely been positive. Something simple as the repair of a flat tire can make our day.

Akihiro Nakashima of Friendee Auto in Japan, checks the underside of the Land Cruiser.

Spare Parts

Before our departure, each time I had found myself in the presence of men talking to Coen about the Land Cruiser I had seen the list of spare parts grow.

“You’ll need to bring an extra alternator.”

“What if your generator breaks down, you’d better bring one.”

And Coen had added more to his list.

Until I had been fed up with it.

“Before we bought this car we asked around to find out which one was the best choice for this journey. People told us to buy a Toyota because it never breaks down. Secondly, they told us to buy one from before 1987 because they are entirely mechanical. In case it does break down—which according to the first premise it shouldn’t—it can be fixed anywhere because mechanics all over the world know this engine and spare parts are available worldwide. This doesn’t square with your ever-growing list of spare parts. It will cost a fortune, not in the least because we’ll have to tow a trailer to carry it all. I veto bringing these parts,” I had stated.

Coen had looked at me in amazement while I held my soliloquy, and thought about it for a moment.

“You know what, you're right. We are not going to buy all this stuff. We will take it as it comes,” he had responded.

Just the idea of not having to make the decision on what to bring or not had taken a load off his shoulders.

We did bring an oil filter because we thought we couldn’t buy one in India. However, we learned on the road that indeed, there’s always a place where you’ll find something that does fit the Land Cruiser.

An example:

The regulator: An original 24-volt regulator was tough to find in India so we got it from Bhutan.

The regulator, again: A couple of years later, in Argentina, it got busted and was replaced by a generic lorry regulator. It works fine except for the head lights that have found a Knight-Rider rhythm of continuously growing stronger and weaker.

Our conclusion:

No, it's not necessary to tow a trailer full of spare parts for this type of Land Cruiser.

More about the Land Cruiser

There is always more to share. To guide you, follow the links below.

The Ins & Outs

See the full overview on the stuff we carry in and on the Land Cruiser. With what equipment did we leave? Which did we ditch, add, or fix?

Car Stories

Here you can read more about our visits to workshops, tips about maintenance and DIY stuff.

Car Travel Info

These reports include a section on what work we got done on the Land Cruiser. You will also find info on car-related topics such as gas stations & fuel prices and traffic & roadmaps.

Do you have questions? Fire away in the comment section below and we'll answer them asap!

32 thoughts on “Meet the Land Cruiser

    • Hello Steve,

      Want kind of parts are you looking for? Most parts still can be had through the official Toyota dealerships and there are numerous aftermarket parts available across the globe. Are you looking for something specific? Maybe our network can help you?

  1. Wow that is awesome.

    I am an Iranian and I just came across this post.

    That is absolutely true. How do you know that? I am so excited.

    I think the reason is that the quality of diesel fuel produced in Iran is very bad.

    Only big trucks run on diesel over here.

    Thanks for mentioning us.

  2. I had a 1977 FJ 40 named “Lurch” purchased brand new. Oh how I loved this truck! it took me all over New England on all types of roads camping and exploring, I miss it every time I see one, it was simple and simply “bombproof” I had so many other responsibilities back then and sadly had to part with after a relationship of 87,000 miles/5 years. Be safe and enjoy your travels. MJMcDowell

    • Hi Michael, that’s a cool story and we are sad to hear that you parted with Lurch but, who knows what the future has in store.
      Can you tell me why it was called Lurch?

      • 1 year+ later……… about my beloved FJ 40. I named it “Lurch” when I met my future wife, she said “sometimes you seem to make it lurch when shifting, driving in rough situations”……… the name just stuck. safe travels, Michael J. McDowell

  3. Hi Coen and Karen !

    I have a bj40 (diesel) 1974 bought 12 years ago.

    He worked very hard before reaching my hands, so I had to repair the engine, clutch, brakes, starter, radiator, fuel tank, indicator, lights etc etc … and the worst: the sheet.
    The car was found in the Canary Islands, very salty and corrosive environment, but now lives in Barcelona.

    I use it as a regular car, and I have gone twice to Morocco with him. My next challenge is to prepare for a three or four months to take us to Iran … or perhaps further! ! !

    Good luck with your journey and good route! !

    • Wow, great to hear from you Ismael. So to hear you’ve done an amazing job to keep the old Cruiser running. Keep up the good work and enjoy your travels. I am sure you will enjoy Iran. Say hello to all the nice people you meet on the road.

  4. Hi there, its sounds a lot like blue water cruisers KISS Keep It Simple Sailor or (stupid) we did for 22 years.Stick to a basic system and know your way around it, this way we could buy spares where ever we were.We started of with a car through Europe and the middle East then build a cat and sailed over 250k nautical miles and around cape horn, and now its getting time to do it overland again due to RA.
    Finding old fashioned vehicles able to do this becomes harder and electronic controlled engines appears to be a headache like they are on boats.
    Keep it going the world is beautifull

    • Looks like you two have a special adventure of your own. It’s always good to meet kindred spirits. Don’t know nothing about boats, but I am familiar with the KISS system and I like it. Keep changing your horizons and you’ll be fine!

  5. Hi Coen. I am almost finished restoring my 1980 bj40 here in Canada. I went right down to a new frame, aluminum body and complete mechanical rebuild, except for the b diesel which only has 300,000 kms. If you like i can send you a link to my build blog. I look forward to hearing more from you.

  6. Hey there.
    I got a 1975 fj40. Bj´s are very rare here in Colombia, where i live. Amazing choise, you can find landcruisers anywhere and so called experts to fix´em anywhere too. Mine has 5 years with me and it´s my offroad vehicle. Has never let me down. It´s an amazing machine. I re-built it in my backyard with my father and in the process, i found pic´s of yours. Now im so amazed by knowing you will come to colombia! I had your car as wallpaper when i was building mine!!

    I saw you had many issues because of bad quality jobs made. What i have always done when traveling, is looking for the local brand club. They always knows who has the part you need and will give you a hand!

    Also i can tell, rust is the biggest landcruiser´s problem. I have been looking for an aluminium body but it will cost more than 5000 us dollars…

    Hugs!!

    • Hello Mauro, I agree with you that the Land Cruiser is an amazing machine and that its biggest problem is the rust. I too have seen the aluminium tubs, but I have also seen the fibreglass solutions in Brazil. The fibre might be a bit cheaper and I think easier to repair yourself. But this is all talk about the body. If only we could find a good rust free LWB frame in Colombia or Venezuela!

      I hope we will meet in Colombia one day!
      Hasta la pronto y abrazos.

  7. Hallo Karin en Coen,

    ik wil als eerste zeggen dat jullie website heel mooi ineen zit en fijn leest 🙂
    jullie zijn zowat mijn droom aan het leven

    Ik ben Ben 17,5 jaar oud en wil ook als overlander over heel de wereld reizen na mijn studies.
    Dit wil ik sinds ik mijn broertje heb verloren toen ik 15 was het heefd me echt veranderd en besef gegeven dat materiële bezitting niks waard zijn als je niks van de wereld ziet

    ik zou dit willen doen in een VW T3 Syncro of een Toyota Landcruiser van voor 87′
    maar nu is mijn vraag is een landcruiser niet te klein als je niet zo een lang chassis versie hebt?
    En heefd Toyota echt een groot voordeel in Azie tov Volkswagen kwa kennis en onderdelen?

    MvG Schilders Ben

    • Hoi Ben,
      Allereerst vind ik het erg dat je je broertje hebt verloren een paar jaar geleden, maar ik vind het ook zeer bewonderenswaardig dat je op zo een jonge leeftijd al serieus aan het dromen bent over een wereldreis met de auto. Ik wou dat ik dat op die leeftijd al zo in mijn hoofd had.

      Wat betreft je vraag, moet ik je natuurlijk eerst melden dat ik weinig tot geen ervaring heb met de Syncro, al vinden wij allebei de Volkswagen bus een heel mooi concept. Zeeën van ruimte heb je erin. Ik ben van mening dat je iets moet kiezen waar je je gemakkelijk in voelt en iets dat makkelijk onderweg te repareren is. Dus ik zou zeggen en Toyota of een Mercedes.

      Ruimte is iets heel persoonlijks. De een wil graag een vast bed in de auto, de ander gaat met twee zakjes op de fiets. We komen onderweg van allerlei soorten voertuigen tegen, ook met zijn tweeën in een Defender 90 of een 2CV en laatst twee Argentijnen in een Peugeot 504, die gewoon binnen in slapen. Ik denk dat hoe groter het voertuig is, hoe meer “zooi” je meeneemt, en gewicht is wel iets heel belangrijks om in de gaten te houden.

      Trouwens wil ik ook hier vermelden, dat de perfecte auto niet bestaat.

      Heb je al de 4×4 series gelezen over wel of geen 4×4?

      Mocht je nog meer specifiekere vragen hebben, laat het gerust weten.

      Adventurous greetings,
      Coen

  8. Im just reading your blog again and am always impressed and inspired. Too bad we missed you guys when we were both driving around Ecuador. Maybe next time….. Will you ever make it to the states?

    • Thanks Dean, indeed 🙁 on the meeting stuff. That’s the tricky part of not planning and roaming around the map. Who knows we might meet somewhere, someday, somehow! 😉

    • Around 406.000 kms as of April 2015. Now I don’t know if those are original kilometers? But I do know that the engine has never been opened!

  9. Hello Coen,
    I drive two Landcruisers, one being a 1990 80 Series and the other a1971 FJ 40 with a 3.4 l Turbo diesel with a 5 speed transmission which was a engine swap by myself.
    I enjoy the reliability, sturdiness, looks, fun factor and the ease of being able to do the work myself.
    There is a good comraderie in the Landcruiser world as well. Especially in Ih8mud.com.
    Cheers, enjoy the journey.

    • Thank you Bruce, as you know I am well aware of the sturdiness and looks factor. I also enjoy the help I get when needed from Land Cruiser fans the world over. Thank you for being part of that as well and we hope to meet you in the flesh one day!

  10. Hi KM&C
    Its great to hear of your travels. I am assigned here in the Philippines for the past year and last year I bought a 1983 BJ40. I am performing all the repairs to restore the vehicle to original reliability. I would like very much to ferry the LC to Thailand and maybe drive all the way to HKG and then ferry it back here. Any suggestions of what you liked or where not to go? I will place a pop up tent on the roof and hang a galley from the back barn doors. It might take me another 6 months to get the truck ready, this week the restored fuel & vacuum tank go in. Thank you for sharing your adventure with me. My second home is in Amsterdam and I was trying to map out how many days to drive there from HKG, I am thinking about 6 months worth via Mongolia & Russia. All the Best, Henry

    • Hello Henry, you will have a great adventure. I think you will have to get a special permit to drive through China in order to get to Mongolia. From there on it can be as straight as you want is my guess.
      Where in the Philippines are you based? We could meet and talk about it?

  11. Hello, Great to know you are still out there. I was just telling a friend today about your story. It came up as we are looking to travel much of the world on our motorcycles and were considering support vehicles. I own a FJ62 and though I am rebuilding and refining it, I wish to keep it has a DD and vacation rig. I stumbled on your blog while shopping for a troopy. I let my TLCA membership runout and no longer receive Toyota Trails where I kept up with your articles. Glad to hear you again! See you on the road. Peace, Chad

    • Hope to meet you on the road indeed. I don’t think you would enjoy running motorcycles with support vehicles. Go and enjoy the freedom you have on your bikes. You’ll get around much better. Think rivers, flights and across oceans…

  12. Hi Guys,

    We have a similar landcruiser here in Australia, a 1979 HJ45 set up for camping. It does struggle at highway speeds with the original 4 speed transmission. What overdrive unit do you have, and could you recommend it? I am hoping it might be a good solution to better highway performance.

    • Hello Josh, you are talking about a 2H engine, right? We are driving a 3B diesel. And what speeds are we talking about? Our Fairy overdrive unit takes off 500 RPM’s if I’m not mistaken. When you say struggle, you mean it can’t go faster? I have the impression, the overdrive is not to gain more speed, it is just to lower the RPM’s at the same speed. Lower noise as well. Can’t you find an original 5 speed transmission?

      • Hi Coen,
        Our cruiser has the H engine with 4 speed gearbox. Putting in a later engine and 5 speed gearbox is certainly an option, but a lot of effort. Whereas the overdrive is bolt on. Highway speeds are 100 – 110 km/h here, which the truck can do…eventually. There is a lot of noise, high RPMs, poorer fuel economy, and I don’t like pushing the truck that hard. Have you had any problems with the overdrive?

        • Okay, now I see. I always thought the 5 speed box was also a bolt on, but now I asked around and it involves adapting indeed. For the Fairey overdrive has been working very good for us in that respect. Problems… In the 14 years we have exchanged a new bearing and two little synchronising shims. I think the problem most likely will be finding a complete set, as they are not being produced anymore. Fairey was bought by Superwinch and they stopped production and having stock. Where will you get one?

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