Toyota may have copied others, but the result is arguably better. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Things to look out for on a Land Cruiser… Um, maybe stay away from cars on nylon sand tyres? Otherwise, well, it’s a Land Cruiser. What could possibly go wrong? The Willys Jeep may have been the first ever off-roader as we know them today, but Land Rover, inspired by the legendary US military general purpose vehicle, was the first to put them on the road in 1948.

The British take on the 4x4 — copy the Americans — inspired another nation to come up with its own solution for mud plugging. So the Japanese did what they then did best: copied everyone else’s winning ideas (for a modern equivalent, see China).
When the Japanese army got hold of a Jeep during the Second World War, it was reverse engineered (couldn’t have been too hard since the car is made from about three parts) and the task of production was handed to Toyota.

After the military and police forces were satisfied with the off-roader, Toyota looked to the Land Rover and mused for a while to finally come up with the name Land Cruiser. It was the 1955 Land Cruiser that really started appealing to civilians, and the 1960 40 Series — or FJ40 — that really made the name take off. Land Cruiser is the longest serving nameplate in Toyota’s history — even longer than the Corolla.

Sales of the off-roader rocketed, and the Land Cruiser became the best-selling Toyota in the US as FJ40 global production numbers slid past 50,000 vehicles, then 100,000, 200,000 and 300,000 in 1973.

The first Land Cruisers disembarked on our Gulf shores in 1955, so there are plenty of oldies to be had. A trip to any beach in Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah will net you any number of rusted out FJ40s. But a quick glance at a local classifieds website gives you the option of several driveable cars, ranging in price from Dh20,000 to Dh50,000 and well above for restored examples.

The legendary ‘Abu Shanab’ is loved around here, but more as a faithful family donkey than a race-winning horse. Their sturdy construction and inline engines can handle plenty of abuse and they are generally well used — although there are a few sympathetic owners out there who treat their FJs with care.

For classic looks and modern drivability, look no further than the succeeding 70 Series Land Cruiser, which made its debut in 1984 but is still available to buy new in short-wheelbase or long-wheelbase form, albeit at a price similar to a brand new FJ Cruiser. As far as we’re concerned though, it’s a no-brainer…