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Retro Drive: Toyota Land Cruiser FJ55

12 December 2016

Thanks to its rather controversial styling, the Land Cruiser FJ55 was dubbed the Iron Pig in its early years. These days, though, the Cruiser is getting the love it deserves.

SOME don’t necessitate attractiveness. Think of Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy – all these great actors command the silver screen without being attractive in the traditional sense of the word. You can’t take your eyes off them when they’re acting. The same is true of the Land Cruiser FJ55. It’s hard to call the styling beautiful, but there’s just something about it – it has that certain X factor.

This particular FJ55 belongs to Halfway Toyota Honeydew, where it’s used largely for promotional purposes. “We had it at the Land Cruiser Festival a few months ago, and you wouldn’t believe the attention it attracted. People swarmed it. I stood around for two hours, answering questions,” says Halfway sales executive Riaan Venter. So it would seem as if the Iron Pig is finally having its day. Today, the FJ55 is rightfully seen as a classic. As particular examples go, you’d struggle to find a better one than Halfway Toyota Honeydew’s. This 1971 model hasn’t been modified at all.

It has enjoyed some minor restorations here and there, but for the most part, the vehicle is in its original condition. Under the bonnet, it’s got a 3.9-litre  straight-six Toyota F engine that offered (when new) 93kW of power and 283Nm of torque. From 1975, the FJ55 was fitted with Toyota’s 2F 4.2-litre mill. The engine is mated to a three-speed manual transmission (a four-speed was offered from 1974).

It’s got all the off-road bells and whistles. “It’s got diff locks at the front and back, as well as high- and low-range gearing,” says Riaan. “It’s all original and it still works perfectly.” Although Halfway’s FJ55 rarely ventures onto the open road, it’s still capable of cruising – up to a point. “It’s built for a different time,” says Riaan. “You’ll be lucky if you squeeze 100km/h out of it. And there’s no real suspension to speak of. The ride is rough and unrefined. But the vehicle is reliable and easy to fix in the middle of nowhere.”

Its bench seats are also surprisingly comfortable, and it has enough luggage space to rival that of any modern full-size SUV. Standard extras provided when purchased new included a two-way radio, roof rack and a selection of replacement parts. Unsurprisingly, Halfway Toyota Honeydew’s FJ55 is not for sale. It’s too much of a show-stopper to let it go. And if you wanted to buy one, you’d struggle to find a good example anywhere else. Owners hang onto them. The Iron Pig has become a solid-gold classic.

Manufacturer Toyota
Model Land Cruiser FJ55
Years available 1968–1979
Body style Four-door wagon
Engine Model F straight-six petrol
Capacity 3.9 litre
Fuel system Carburetted
Power 93kW
Torque 283Nm
Gearbox Three-speed manual
Curb weight 1 810kg
Suspension Semi-elliptical leaf springs

Text and photography: GG van Rooyen