The First Transfiguration in 30 Years
The pressure from the preceding model sales volume was enormous. However, the 70 series was able evolve the Land Cruiser while maintaining the images of rigidity, reliability, and durability of the past. Without major alterations to the basic structure, many small details that pioneered the path to modernization were added on.
In 1984 a new 70-series was born, bringing to a close a long era of 29 years (including the 20-series) during which the 40-series remained virtually unchanged. There were limits to what could be done to modernize the old design of the 40-series model. For this reason Chief Engineer Masaomi Yoshii introduced a complete overhaul in the design, producing the 70-series to lead the Land Cruiser with a new generation.
The first pre-condition however was that the new Land Cruiser was not to sacrifice any of its toughness, so a strong ladder frame was outfit with rigid leaf springs. The body plates were thickened by 1.0mm for added strength. While leaving something of the image of the 40-series, such as externally added fenders, it was also given modern features such as curved glass. As before there were two body types available, the short BJ70 (soft top and van), and the middle BJ73 (FRP top).
In 1985 a derivative of the BJ70 model was added, the LJ71G, which had a 2L-T-type engine (4-cylinder, 2,446cc, 85PS, 19.2kgm). As indicated by the letter G, this model was registered as a passenger car type wagon. It had a soft appearance in the front mask, and the suspension had rigid coil springs. In the export model it was known as the Light Land Cruiser, or the Land Cruiser II. Moreover, this was the same engine that was installed in the 4 Runner
At that time the BJ70 lineup was also expanded with the addition of the BJ71 and BJ74, which had a 13B-T-type turbo diesel engine. The BJ74 LX grade also came with automatic transmission.
Later the Land Cruiser shifted its weight to the 60-series. In competition to outdo its rival model the Pajero in terms of luxury, the 60-series evolved into the 80-series. During this period the 70-series tended to fade into the background.
Then in 1990 a significant minor change was introduced in the 70-series, when two newly developed engines were introduced; the 1PZ-type engine (replacing the 3B-type with an OHC (Over Head Camshaft) 5-cylinder, 3,469cc, 115PS, 23.5kgm engine specs), and the 1HZ-type engine (replacing the 13B-T with an OHC 6-cylinder, 4,163cc, 135PS, 28.5kgm engine specs). Moreover, to the middle length model a new ZX grade was added. Both the PZJ70 short and the HZJ73 underwent modifications.
Following that in the same year the 70-series wagon underwent a complete makeover. In addition to the original 2-door, a 4-door semi-long was introduced, the name was changed to the Prado, and with other design changes it took on its own unique identity. The 4-door model had 3 rows of seats and could carry 8 people. Compared to the 70-series that was registered as a commercial vehicle, it now had more potential reclassified as an RV. The 2L-T-type was transformed with electronic controls in the new 2L-TE-type engine, which gave it improved performance. With the minor change the short version kept its LJ71 number, while the long version was renamed the LJ78. At this time also appeared a 4-door semi-long, with a choice of two engines the 1PZ or the 1HZ named accordingly the PZJ77 and the HZJ77.