Toyota Celebrates 50 Years of Land Cruiser

16 February 2001

The Toyota Land Cruiser has legendary status, outselling Land Rover by over one million units. From its humble beginnings 50 years ago, the Land Cruiser has developed into one of the most dependable and sought after brand names in off-road driving. To commemorate this half century-long reputation for go-anywhere capability, Toyota is launching a limited edition of unique specification Anniversary Land Cruiser Amazon cars, just 50 of which will come to the UK initially.

Its record of outstanding reliability has made it one of the most popular off-road vehicles in some of the most remote countries of the world. The Land Cruiser brand has become synonymous with robust build quality and class leading 4×4 capability. As a key supplier to the United Nations across the globe and in markets such as Africa, Indonesia, and the Middle East, Land Cruiser is the preferred choice of those whose lives depend on it. Down under, where over 75 per cent of SUVs sold are Toyotas, the Australians clearly wouldn’t give a XXXX for any other 4×4.

The Land Cruiser’s ability to provide comfortable transport in urban environments as well as off-road has contributed to worldwide success. Over 3.7 million Land Cruisers have been sold to date, which is 1.2 million units more than all Land Rovers sold since their introduction. In the UK, Over 25,000 Land Cruisers have been sold to date. These figures do not include sales of Toyota’s other 4×4 sensation, the RAV4, nor any pick-ups or other Toyota 4×4 SUVs.

Land Cruiser History

Land Cruiser can trace its heritage back to the Toyota BJ, the first four-wheel drive vehicle launched by the company at the end of 1950. It was powered by a 3.4-litre,
six cylinder engine and rapidly developed a reputation for toughness and an ability to go anywhere. This was followed in 1954 by the type 25 BJ, the first to be given the Land Cruiser name which has been used ever since.

In the UK, Land Cruiser has become an increasingly popular choice since it first went on sale in 1975. Importation began in 1981 with the predecessor to the Amazon. At that time, sales were steady at a few hundred each year. In 1988 Toyota introduced the second short wheel base Land Cruiser model, the Mk II. The lower price led to increased volume and both models complemented each other through the late Eighties and early Nineties.

Land Cruiser 80, introduced in 1990, continued the development of the station wagon style Land Cruiser but in a design adapted to the modern market with a more rounded body and rigid rear axle. In 1996 an all-new Land Cruiser, the Colorado model was launched in response to the new European market for medium Sports Utility Vehicles. This was followed in 1998 by the introduction of the current generation Land Cruiser Amazon.

Land Cruiser Amazon

The Land Cruiser Amazon appeals to the heart as well as the mind of the 4×4 buyer. For these customers the emphasis in the description ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’ has shifted away from utility towards luxury. They are choosing a 4×4 as a leisure vehicle; often as an alternative to a luxury car or even a family MPV.

Despite the desire for the rugged looks that characterise the sports utility market, Land Cruiser customers in Europe are almost as likely to live in the town as they are in the country. Just over a third of existing Land Cruiser Amazon owners hardly ever drive off-road but they do appreciate its reliability and reputation in more hostile driving environments such as Africa and Asia.

The hydro-pneumatic Active Height Control system fitted as standard equipment on the Amazon 50th Anniversary model provides better steering stability, ride comfort and can also be used to manually change ride height – higher for travelling across rough ground or lower for easier passenger access.

Unique Specification for 50th Anniversary Model

In addition to the high level of equipment fitted as standard to the Land Cruiser Amazon VX model, the 50th Anniversary model has the following unique specification:

Multi-function Display Colour Screen

A seven inch, fully integrated, colour information display screen is fitted in the centre console and incorporates a display for all air conditioning operation and temperature controls, audio controls and selections for RDS radio, cassette deck and six disc CD autochanger. Also incorporated are controls and map display for the navigation system and adjustment for screen brightness.

DVD Navigation System

A full colour DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) voice guidance navigation system is fitted which has the ability to store up to 13 times the amount of data as a conventional CD based system, meaning the capacity to store the entire European road system on a single DVD. The touch screen operated system features a full map display, destination search with memory points, street and places of interest search and present position display.

Special Interior and Upholstery

All Anniversary models are trimmed in ivory leather, which includes the door panels as well as the three rows of seats. The leather upholstery is unique to this model and has a different texture. The driver’s and front passenger seat are electrically adjustable and heated as per the VX model, with the driver’s seat having a memory function.

All Anniversary models also feature a specially selected wood trim interior that extends to the surrounds of the door mounted switches, centre console and parts of the facia. The steering wheel and gearshift lever are trimmed in a combination of wood and leather. The wood trim differs in appearance to that fitted to the standard GX and VX models.

A 50th Anniversary logo is featured on the centre console and also on special scuff plates fitted to all four doors. An individually numbered commemorative plaque is fitted to the centre console and the steering wheel has a chrome-effect Toyota logo.

The instrument binnacle of the 50th Anniversary Amazon model features Optitron instruments which use a cold cathode lamp to project a clear analogue image which is both easy to read and stylish. These types of instruments are currently used in Lexus models as well as the Toyota Previa.


The 50th Anniversary model is fitted with chrome-effect alloy wheels and has a 50th Anniversary badge fitted to the rear ‘D’ pillars. This limited production car is available as standard in a choice of three metallic colours; Ashdown Green, Silver Pearl and Stellar Blue.

Pricing and Availability

The Land Cruiser Amazon Anniversary model is based on the top of the range VX automatic model and is priced at £46,845 for the 4.2-litre turbo diesel model and £46,145 for the 4.7-litre V8 petrol model including a three year/60,000 mile warranty. This represents a £4,650 premium over the standard VX model. The Anniversary model is available from February 2001.


Download this release as a PDF below

Toyota Celebrates 50 Years of Land Cruiser


Images are copyright free for editorial purposes only

Media enquiries

Please click here to see the press contacts at Toyota (GB):

Show Press Contacts

For further information, please contact:

David Rogers

07825 280608 or by email at

General, alternative fuels and mobility media enquiries

David Crouch

07909 900 085 or by email at

General, fleet and motorsport media enquiries

Please understand that our press team only deal with enquiries from media representatives.

Toyota and Lexus Press Releases

To receive all Toyota and Lexus press information, please select the box below.

To update your profile type in your email address and press return. MailChimp will then send you an email confirming your details and you will then have the opportunity of amending your details.

* indicates required
All Toyota/Lexus News