The all- present Toyota
Originating in 1951 as a mobility vehicle for the National Police Reserve in Japan, and through over 60 more years of uninterrupted production, which include 14 model lines and thousands of variations, the Land Cruiser holds the title as the longest produced vehicle in Toyota’s history. Having sold more than 6.5 million it has become revered within the four-wheel drive community, setting the benchmark for resilience, robustness, reliability and efficiency. As the world’s most customer-trusted vehicle it marks the basis of Toyota’s target development of quality, durability and reliability.
After North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950 and Japan under American occupation. The US and United Nations leapt to South Korea’s aid, Japanese manufacturers were commissioned to provide compact four-wheel drive trucks for the US military. Toyota received huge purchase orders as they were the primary truck suppliers for Japan’s own forces during the 1940s.
Whilst building vehicles for the Allied forces assisting South Korea, the Japanese felt that they were left vulnerable. A limited re-armament was permitted, including 1000 four-wheel drive vehicles similar to the Willys ‘Jeep’. However, they had to be built using domestically sourced raw materials.
Five months after starting development in January 1951, Toyota presented its prototype to the National Police Reserve (NPR). It was a parts bin special, using the chassis of Toyota’s one-ton Type SB truck with the oversized 3.4-litre Type B six-cylinder petrol engine of the four-ton truck, suspension from the Toyopet passenger car, and a simple open body.
However, the NPR preferred Mitsubishi’s licensed version of the Willys to the Toyota presentation. Not put off, Toyota saw potential in its own prototype, deciding to continue development and find their own customers, as export restrictions had been lifted the year before.