Toyota’s Jeep BJ
When the Imperial Japanese Army occupied the Philippines in 1941, they found an American Jeep and promptly sent it to Japan. The Japanese military authorities ordered Toyota to produce a similar vehicle but to alter the appearance. The resulting Model AK prototype led to the Yon-Shiki Kogata Kamotsu-Sha type 4 compact cargo-truck).
Later in 1941, the Japanese government instructed Toyota to produce a light truck for Japan’s military. In 1942, Toyota developed the AK10 prototype by reverse-engineering a Bantam GP. The half-ton truck features an upright front grille, flat front wheel arches that angled down and back like the FJ40, headlights mounted above the wheel arches on either side of the radiator, and a folding windshield.
Let’s Copy the Bantam Jeep
The AK10 is powered by the 2,259 cc (2.3 L), 4-cylinder Type C engine from the Toyota Model AE sedan coupled to a three-speed manual transmission and a two-speed transfer gearbox. Unlike the U.S. Jeep, the AK10 had limited use and photographs of it in the battlefield are rare.
The postwar Toyota “Jeep” BJ is completely different from the AK10 and inherits no mechanical parts from it. However, a lot of lessons learned while developing the AK10 were applied when developing the BJ
In 1950 the Korean War created demand for a military light utility vehicle. The war put a Jeep on Japan’s doorstep. The United States government ordered 100 vehicles with the then-new Willys specifications and tasked Toyota to manufacture them. The Toyota “Jeep” BJ prototype was developed in January 1951. This came from the demand for military-type utility vehicles, much like the British Land Rover Series 1 that was developed in 1948. The Jeep BJ was larger than the original U.S. Jeep and more powerful courtesy of its Type B 3.4-litre six-cylinder OHV Four-stroke petrol engine which generated a power output of 85 PS (63 kW; 84 hp) at 3,600 rpm and 215 N⋅m (159 lb⋅ft) torque at 1,600 rpm. It had a part-time four-wheel drive system like the Jeep. However, and unlike the Jeep, the Jeep BJ had no low-range transfer case. In July 1951, Toyota’s test driver Ichiro Taira drove the next generation of the Jeep BJ prototype up to the sixth stage of Mount Fuji, the first vehicle to climb that height. The test was overseen by the National Police Agency (NPA). Impressed by this feat, the NPA quickly placed an order for 289 of these offroad vehicles, making the Jeep BJ their official patrol car.
For the first two years, manufacture was exclusively to order and in small volumes. In 1953, however, regular production of the “Toyota Jeep BJ” began at the Toyota Honsya Plant (rolling chassis assembly). The body assembly and painting was done at Arakawa Bankin Kogyo KK, later known as ARACO (now an affiliate of Toyota Auto Body Company). The “Toyota Jeep BJ” Series was introduced in the following variants:
BJ-T (Touring), BJ-R (Radio), BJ-J (Cowl-chassis for a fire-engine).
The next year, the name “Land Cruiser” was coined by the technical director Hanji Umehara.
In June 1954, responding to claims of trademark violation by the Willys Company that produced the original Jeep, then Director of Technology Hanji Umehara renamed the vehicle “Land Cruiser.”
1955 – The Second generation of the Land Cruiser called the 20 Series was introduced. It was designed to have a more civilian appeal than the BJ for export reasons. It also had more stylish bodywork and a better ride courtesy of longer four-plate leaf springs which had been adapted from the Toyota Light Truck. It had a more powerful 99 kW (135 PS; 133 hp) 3.9 L six-cylinder Type F petrol engine, but adopted the previous generation’s three-speed gearbox. The interior of the vehicles were made more comfortable by moving the engine 120 mm (4.7 in) forward. The 20 Series still had no low range transfer case, but had synchronism on the third and fourth gears.
1957 – A 4-door Station Wagon was added called the FJ35V which was based on a 2,650 mm (104.3 in) wheelbase. The Land Cruiser first imported into Australia by B&D Motors as the FJ25/28 cab chassis with Australian made bodies. The Land Cruiser was the first Japanese vehicle to be regularly exported to the country. A small number of Land Cruisers were initially used in the Snowy Mountains Scheme by contractor Theiss Constructions.
1958 – FJ25 production commenced in Brazil; this being the first Toyota vehicle built outside Japan. These were sold as the “Toyota Bandeirante” from January 1962 when the Toyota petrol engine was replaced with a Mercedes-Benz diesel engine. The FJ25 models were built until August 1968 in Brazil. Production numbers were fairly low; in 1965, the production total was 961 vehicles.
The Toyota Land Cruiser (J40), is a series of Land Cruisers made by Toyota from 1960 until 2001. Traditional body on frame SUVs, most 40 series Land Cruisers were built as 2-door models with slightly larger dimensions than the similar Jeep CJ.