Section 8. Debut of the Toyopet Crown, a Full-Fledged Passenger Car

Item 2. Development of Large Trucks, Four-wheel-drive Vehicles, and Diesel Engines

Development of four-wheel-drive vehicles such as the Land Cruiser

In August 1950, Toyota received a request to produce prototypes of a 1/4-ton, four-wheel-drive truck (Jeep type) and a 3/4-ton, four-wheel-drive truck (weapon carrier) from the U.S. Armed Forces and Japan's then-newly established Police Reserve Force.1 The order was received during a tumultuous period, only two months after the Korean War had broken out.

Before World War II, Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. had produced four-wheel-drive vehicles in response to a request from the Japanese Army. Capitalizing on this experience and remaining parts-and also utilizing suspension-related parts, such as the rear axle-of the Model SB truck, Toyota completed a prototype of a 1/4-ton truck (Jeep type) in January 1951 after only a 5-month development period.

This Toyota Model BJ four-wheel-drive truck was generally referred to as the Toyota Jeep because it was a Jeep-type truck. However, since 'Jeep' was a registered trademark of Willys-Overland Motors of the United States, Toyota had to change the vehicle's name, and made it the Toyota BJ. Then, in June 1954, the vehicle name was formally changed to the Toyota Land Cruiser. Table 1-35 shows the specifications of the Toyota BJ four-wheel-drive truck.

Table 1-35. Specifications of the Toyota Model BJ Four-Wheel Drive Truck (First-Generation Land Cruiser [1951])

Type B (3,389 cc, 82 hp)
2,400 mm
3,793 mm
1,575 mm
1,900 mm
Chassis weight
Vehicle weight
1,230 kg
Maximum capacity
(including passengers)
360 kg
Maximum speed
100 km/h
Toyota Engineering Society's, Toyota Technology, April 1, 1951

In November 1955, Toyota created the Model BJ25 series by completely redesigning the Model BJ Land Cruiser, and also added and launched the Model FJ25 series equipped with the F engine. Whereas the Model BJ had been developed primarily for military use, Models BJ and FJ25 series were intended for wide use by the general public. Specific improvements achieved included the following: enhanced mobility by shortening the wheelbase, easier transmission operation by adopting the synchromesh method, greater comfort level by substantially expanding the cabin, and improved riding comfort by modifying the plate springs.

In addition to these improvements in function and performance, the Land Cruiser's inherent high off-road performance level (demonstrated by its climb to the 6th station on Mount Fuji) was rated highly in many mountainous and desert countries of the world, with resultant increases in both the number of export-destination countries and the number of vehicles exported. In 1955, Toyota exported its vehicles to 14 countries, which included 98 units of the Land Cruiser. The figures jumped to 35 countries and 518 units in 1956, and to 47 countries and 2,502 units in 1957.

Meanwhile, a 3/4-ton four-wheel-drive truck was completed as the Model BQ prototype in January 1951 and formal testing was carried out by the Police Reserve Force in February of the same year. The Model BQ four-wheel-drive truck, which was also developed by capitalizing on the technical experience gained during the war, was formally adopted by the Police Reserve Force following many test runs.

In parallel with the development of the Model BQ, Toyota also set out to develop a 2.5-ton Model FQS six-wheel-drive truck in August 1951 and completed a prototype in February 1952. The Model FQS six-wheel-drive truck took approximately 1 year to pass testing by the Police Reserve Force (Security Force) and was formally adopted in February 1953.

Subsequently, these four-wheel-drive trucks were improved one after another, and a large number of the trucks were delivered2 as APA Special Procurement Vehicles beginning in 1958.

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