Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Twofer Tuesday with a couple of off-road Toys

Parked at the spot where Carroll Gardens and Red Hook stare across the open trench of the BQE at each other was this drab little soldier: 
A 1978 Toyota Land Cruiser! 
The color is Olive Green, which was only available from '78 to '82. The tan colored grill surround became squared-off as opposed to rounded around the headlights in 1979, confirming this as a '78.
These little brutes were every bit as capable as the Jeep CJ was both on road and off road. Combine that with the Swiss Watch reliability of Toyota engines from the '70s and you've got a great 4x4.

That body separation line between the rear wheels and the rear side windows is where the metal roof can be lifted off for your safari or trip to Home Depot. Those corner quarter windows are a thoughtful touch; no blind spot so you can see the vehicle passing you clearly.
Rugged, basic, and well-built were the hallmarks of this boxy ride. 4 WHEEL DRIVE got you wherever you wanted to go.

This handsome Land Cruiser is from the 40 Series (known as the J40), and was built with almost no changes whatsoever from 1960-1984. The original (10 and 20 Series) was built as a military vehicle for the Korean War. The fact that they persisted throughout almost all of the Cold War makes this truck like an homage to Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese holdout soldier found to be fighting WWII alone in the Philippines in 1974.
This particular truck has leftovers from the decade in which it was built; faded pinstripes surround both the rear side window and the lower door section. The white roof looks smart, but is also practical in hot summer for keeping the cabin (essentially a glass & metal shed) cooler than it would've been otherwise.
The new tires and overall condition make it seem that this is ready for action!

Soon after stumbling across the first one I found this parked at the northeast corner of Fort Greene Park; a 1974 version of the Land Cruiser. The smaller fender signals let us know it's '74 or earlier.
The flat charcoal spray paint is chipping away all over this thing showing what seems to be the original color; Freeborn Red! Is that a reference to people born into a free country that later turned Communist? Are they mocking the less fortunate North of the Korean Peninsula for which this vehicle was designed? No, but here on my computer alone I can type that.
The TOYOTALandCruiser emblem has been re-affixed with 2 wood screws drilled right into the panel. This grumpy little lump is more about work than show, as it should be!

This trapdoor was ajar, allowing us to admire the basic mechanical nature of this entire vehicle. No do-dads or gizmos - the vent is connected by a hinged rod to a lever that says VENT. No need to fidget with complicated controls when deciding the percentage of airflow you want on the defrost as opposed to your feet or face. You feel hot & stuffy? Open the trapdoor to the outside!
Again with the nice tires; good for you Land Cruiser owners! This little frumper is ready to climb a mountain right now. Those 40 year old leaf springs might make for a bouncy ride, but they also might make for more clearance when traversing a rocky path.

From this angle you can see the roll cage installed in this beast. Also, see those big metal hinges on the lower corners of the windshield frame? With the roof off you can fold the windshield forward and lock it flat to the hood, making the highest point of the vehicle the top of the steering wheel. With that setup you can truly crawl through dense jungle trails (or find a spot near Fort Greene Park to park). When I was a kid in California an older neighbor named Pat had one of these and I always admired it. To find 2 of them in NYC decades later surprised me to say the least!

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