When you think of a list of 4WDs that you would one day love to own, somewhere in that list is bound to be a Land Cruiser, and more likely than not it will be something a touch older. Due to US laws and the restrictions placed on newer imports, quite a few of the older Land Cruisers are starting to appear here, most importantly the much coveted diesels.
I recently had the opportunity to drive one of these sought after cars at the recent Cruise Moab event. To be exact it was a BJ74 with a 3.4L turbo diesel and a 5 speed manual transmission. This car was imported by Land Cruisers Direct and then taken to Cruiser Outfitters to have a few extra toys added.
The car came over from Japan pretty much as it had left the factory. It came with an alloy bulbar and PTO winch as well as both front and rear cable-actuated differential locks. It did not stay like that for long when Kurt from Cruiser Outfitters got his hands on it. While not much was required to turn this car into a very capable vehicle, they did add a few extra touches.
Updating the front of the Land Cruiser, they removed the factory bumper and winch and replaced it with an ExpeditionOne prototype bumper and installed a Comeup winch. The factory bumper and winch protruded off the front of the vehicle too far, so the new bull bar achieves better angles, and is also sleek and stylish. With a small arch over the winch allowing for the addition of aerials or lighting makes the bar a very practical piece of gear.
To give the BJ74 a bit more ground clearance, Cruiser Outfitters loaded it up with an Old Man Emu suspension to give it a 2.5inch lift. This combined with the 33-inch BFG All-terrains provides this short wheel based car with plenty of ground clearance. To ensure that no damage comes to the sills in rocky terrain, a pair of Cruisin Off-Road Rock sliders were added. This was certainly needed when I was driving around parts of San Rafael Swell and Moab.
To round out the bar work, a Prototype ExpeditionOne rear bumper was installed. This has a great design as it does not have a locking mechanism and is simply attached to the rear door. This makes it very easy to get into the cargo area of the Cruiser, something overlooked by many other rear bars on the market. While this might sound like such a simple set up it is certainly an incredibly capable car. Having had the luxury of growing up around diesels, I have had the opportunity to drive a wide variety of Land Cruisers but never a 74. The short wheelbase combined with the low end torque of the 13BT motor allows this car to take most obstacles with ease and confidence.
After talking with Kurt I know he has a few plans for the Cruiser, including a possible sleeping platform and drawer system in the back. He is also considering reducing the T-case gearing as the car would benefit from a lower gear set. All things told however, it is not a must for a car like this unless you plan to do a fair amount of rock crawling. It is certainly a car that I wouldn’t complain about getting my mitts on if I was going to be in the US for longer.