Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sweet little red Jeep-killer

I was out in Bed Stuy somewhere near the Kingston-Throop station on the C line when this little lunchbox stopped me in my tracks:
Righteous! This is a Toyota Land Cruiser from the '60s (my guess is 1965) in either Carnival Red or Spanish Maroon. I like to be specific but these little beasts were produced from 1960-1984 worldwide and all the way through 2001 in Brazil without too many changes.
These trucks are exactly what they seem to be; Jeep-like trucks built to make their way through any sort of terrain. They are simple, rugged, and as charming as can be.
All these vents and louvers. What do they do? Who knows? I imagine the design team upgrading some component of the engine or something where they could use more air flow and just adding louvers wherever and whenever necessary.
This is shockingly rust free and solid for an older Toyota. Those little curved windows are an indication of Toyotas genius in design over the decades; if there's a blind spot add a window!
The heavy duty black steel acting as a bumper is basically the frame. As cute as this is it is a seriously heavy duty vehicle.
From this angle you can see that the tailgate is a 3 door affair; the liftgate which is attached to the roof, and 2 little doors that swing out to the sides as a tailgate. Above the TOYOTA emblem you can see the one little reverse light.
The white roof is the perfect à la mode for this ride. In a more practical sense a white roof on a truck with lots of window glass and probably lacking air conditioning helps to keep the interior cool in summer. *I love the little triangle of non-slip material on the step that's built onto the back of the front fender.
Like the Jeep the roof is removable. That line above the rear wheel well is the seam so you can see how low the body is with the roof off. Also like the Jeep the windshield folds forward and can be latched flat to the hood and the doors are easily removed. With that configuration you can easily amble through dense jungles and forests as your clearance would be the top of the steering wheel.
SO BASIC. There are no door panels just the stamped metal interior. The seats are plain as day, the steering wheel looks like a truck from the 1930s, and the switches and knobs on the dash look like the cheapest most straightforward items you can buy from the hardware store.
Those round turn signals on the fenders indicate that this is a '60s model as they would become big squares in the '70s. The bumper is an unapologetic push bar with plenty of space for a winch.
I've always loved these rides since our neighbor Pat drove one when I was 7 or 8 years old. They enjoy a well deserved cult collector status and the values can be surprisingly high for a nice example. If you find a rare body style like the long wheelbase passenger version of the pickup truck you can expect to pay over $50,000 for a mint example, even into the 6 figures. Trucks like the one here routinely go for between 20-30 grand. Great rig if you don't mind trading creature comforts for coolness and off road ability.

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