Amid all this confusion one vehicle made itself very conspicuous, the Jeep. Before this encounter I had never heard of or seen a Jeep. I somehow came to associate it with the fantasy animals that Seeger, the American cartoonist used to draw. This agile little beast captured the popular interest in America around 1938.
Later, when I was a technical director at Toyota we were conducting tests of a future competitor to the Jeep. After the tests, our test driver, Ichiro Taira, insisted on taking the car up the steps of Mt. Atago (Tokyo). Heikuro Magaki had climbed these same steps on horseback three centuries earlier. Once we got there, we saw there was a pillar in the middle of the steps and were forced to give it up as impossible. Instead we rode up the steps (no longer existing) leading to the Fudo temple in Okazaki city. Much like Heikuro might have done, Ichiro Taira went up the steps zigzag-fashion and reached the top without any difficulty. An incredible feat! This if nothing else convinced us of the worth of our new product.
In England we had another competitor; Land Rovers and Jeeps! I had to come up with a name for our car that would not sound less dignified than those of our competitors. That is why I decided to call it "Land Cruiser".
Now the Land Cruiser has become a major success in more than 30 countries throughout the world. Unlike an ordinary passenger vehicle the Land Cruiser is a strong, silent workhorse that does not usually get talked about. As most Land Cruisers are exported, they are still not a familiar sight in Japan.
A Chinese table tennis team that visited our factory some time ago took a keen interest in the Land Cruiser. A thought struck me. Maybe the day will come when the Land Cruiser will travel across the vast area of Mainland China. One day I happened to visit the Arakawa Auto Body Co, Ltd (now Toyota Auto Body Co, Ltd). I found myself stroking the bonnet of a Land Cruiser saying "There's a good girl", "There's a good girl, you have been easier to bring up than any other car".