The FJ40 Land Cruiser – A buyer’s guide for 2020

Thinking about buying or selling a Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser in 2020? Well, I can probably give you a tip or two about that. First, a bit about me:

Apart from being the founder of CLASSIC.COM, I also co-founded The FJ Company with my brother Nelson. At The FJ Company, we build high-end, modernized versions of the FJ40, FJ43, and FJ45. To be clear, it is NOT the purpose of this blog post to sell you one of those. You’re welcome to google our company and check it out, but I accept the fact that not everyone is looking for our type of vehicles.

It IS the purpose of this article to share with you my experience with the 40 series market over the last decade. We have purchased over 100 of them for use in our projects, in multiple countries… so hopefully I can enlighten you with what I’ve learned along the way to make the journey a bit less painful for some of you.

FJ40 Market Values

Focusing on the FJ40 – for 2020, we are expecting the CMV to continue trending downward slightly from $27,994 as of this writing (January 7, 2020). The downward pressure is largely a result of the additional volume from imported vehicles making their way into the market (more on this later).

Yet the market appears to be surprisingly resilient to the import phenomenon. To put things into context, in 2019, there were 211 listings for an FJ40 in our data, with a 66% sell-through, representing 139 sales, at an average of $29,630.

FJ40 Market Values

For 2016, a decent year for the classic car market, there were 86 listings, 78% sell-through, for a total of 67 sales at an average of $33,522.

FJ40 Market Values

The number of actual sales doubled in 2019, yet the average price was reduced by only 16%. In our view, that is only explained by the growing interest in this type of vehicle.

So why such a dramatic increase in volume? To make sense of it all, you’ll need to dig deep in the background and history of the FJ40 market in the US.

Background: About the 40 series

The FJ40 is really one model within a series of vehicles known as the 40 series. Other models include the FJ43, FJ45, and other variants such as the BJ40, BJ42, and so on. In all, there are more than 10 variants in the 40 series range. The “FJ” relates to the gasoline-powered F engine, and the “BJ” relates to the diesel-powered B engines. The “J” stands for jeep…. Or so the story goes. You should also know that the numerical value that follows the FJ or BJ model designation typically relates to the wheelbase of the vehicle (note emphasis on typically). For example, the FJ-40 is the shortest wheelbase option, followed by the FJ43, followed by the FJ45. In the case of BJ’s, some of the differences in numbers are not as straightforward. For example, the BJ40, 41 and 42 actually have the same wheelbase. The difference in those is the type of diesel engine.

But let’s keep it simple. In this post, I’m going to focus on the FJ40 mainly because it’s what I know best, and because they are more readily available in the US market. The BJ’s would be more relevant in Europe, Central America, and some asian markets.

Replacing Toyota’s 20 series, the FJ40 was born for model year 1961. The earliest 40 series vehicles are extremely utilitarian in today’s standards. Powered by Toyota’s first generation of the “F” engine, it’s a tractor-like experience: 3-speed manual transmission, no power steering, and uncomfortable seating. That said, the early samples can be charming and have strong appeal among collectors and restomod-ers.

Soon after the launch of the FJ40, Toyota introduced the FJ45. At 2,950 mm, the FJ45 is the longest wheelbase option in the 40 series line up. Generally speaking, you will find four variants of the FJ45: pick-up, troopy (troop carrier), and the FJ45LV. This latter variant is the only four-door option in the 40 series[1].

In the late 1960’s, Toyota introduced a medium wheelbase option (2,430 mm) designated as the FJ43. Although we are starting to see a good number of these in the US, this variant was never imported into the country by Toyota. They were originally shipped to a few countries in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

Along the way, Toyota made incremental improvements to the FJ40 (and its siblings) in terms of ergonomics and drivability. Notably, for model year 1973, Toyota introduced a 4-speed manual transmission. In 1975 they introduced the 2F engine. The doors where redesigned and interior tweaks were made to make the vehicles more comfortable with western buyers in mind. For model year 1979, the gas tank was removed from the inside of the cabin (underneath the passenger seat), to the underside of the vehicle.

In addition to these major changes, which applied across the entire 40 series lineup, vehicles were accessorized differently depending on their country of destination. The FJ40 destined for the United States (a/k/a US-spec) received the most upgrades[2] in the form of creature comforts (A/C, radio, etc), trim pieces, and safety components such as front wheel disc brakes, roll bar, and side markers. Today, late model, US-spec vehicles are considered by some to be the best of the breed.

Although they improved over time, sales of the FJ40 peaked in the US in 1978 and declined quickly from that point forward as other makes with more advanced vehicles made their way into the market. 1983 became the final model year for the 40 series in the United States but Toyota Japan would continue production until 1984. These later samples made their way into countries like Colombia and some to the Middle East where sales continued to thrive.

Furthermore, it’s important to know that at some point in the late 70’s, Toyota started to produce the 40 series in Venezuela and Brazil, strictly for local demand, where regulations encouraged in-country production (no different from what Tesla is doing in China today). Venezuela would continue production of the 40 series until 1986. Under the model name “Bandeirante”, brazil would continue production until the early 2000’s.

In the last 10 years, as interest for the 40 series increased in the US from collectors and enthusiasts alike, demand for late-model samples outgrew local supply. Companies (mine included), found a niche importing Japanese-made 40 series vehicles from abroad. Even if they didn’t have all the bells and whistles that the US-spec models had, they were generally in good condition and had limited rust. Sales were brisk for well-preserved or properly-restored samples.

In the meantime, the Venezuelan economy tanked and the government went into turmoil. It didn’t take long for several companies and entrepreneurs to figure out how to export their locally-produced vehicles out the country – even against local export rules. To be clear, I don’t have anything bad to say about the vehicles produced in Venezuela or Brazil, but there are differences, so at the very least you should be aware of their provenance.

It’s no surprise then, that the market for the FJ40 today is like a big food court in Miami. Lots of Venezuelan, Colombian, some Brazilian, Middle Eastern, Japanese, US-spec, resto-mods, restored, preserved, you name it. Some of it is great, some of it is bad, some of it I would even label as fraud.

What’s important is for you to be aware of the influx of vehicles into the market and the impact that this may have on pricing. Do some research, ask questions, and be smart about what you buy.

[1] Toyota in Brazil produced a 4-door “Bandeirante” pickup, considered part of the 40 series as well, but it was not marketed locally as an FJ45.
[2] There is a LUX version in certain countries, which is arguably even more accessorized than a US-spec vehicle.

2 thoughts on “The FJ40 Land Cruiser – A buyer’s guide for 2020

  1. I am looking at a 1981 FJ40 on Facebook. It looks great, but I think the price is high at $26000. I read what you wrote about fraud models, which this could be. How does one tell the difference, and is the price good?

    1. Hi Bill,

      Sorry for the delayed response. You may want to post on an FJ-specific forum like IH8MUD.COM – it’s a vibrant community with many members who can give you tips on detecting fraud models. Best of luck with your search!

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