Australia Loves LandCruisers

Image: Toyota

Australia's love affair with the venerable LandCruiser stretches back to the '50s, when Sir Leslie Thiess bought a bunch of FJs to work on the Snowy Hydro scheme. Since then, Australians have bought over 700,000 Landcruisers -- a full 10 per cent of the 7 million sold around the world in the last seven decades.

LandCruiser is the longest-running Toyota brand in Australia -- beating out Corolla by 12 years -- and comprises a mix of 370,000 cab-chassis workhorse bodies and 330,000 wagons including the current LandCruiser 200.

The UAE buys the lion's share of all the LandCruisers around the world every year at the moment (we've all seen them drifting in Qatar, too) but Australia tops the charts for more Landies sold since launch than any other nation around the world. We also bought over 11 per cent of all the model's worldwide sales last year.

The figures also don't include the Prado, of which 260,000 have been sold around Australia.

Here's a short history of the brand from Toyota itself:

LandCruiser began life as the dream of TMC founder Kiichiro Toyoda who was determined to produce a vehicle with low price, high performance and economy - fully made in Japan.

By January 1951, Toyota had produced a prototype known as BJ - a one-tonne truck chassis with a petrol-powered water-cooled in-line six-cylinder 3,386cc unit.

Six months later, test driver Ichiro Taira drove a prototype to the sixth of 10 checkpoints on the 3,775m Mt Fuji - higher than anybody had thought possible in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Toyota soon began selling the vehicle in world markets, earning valuable foreign currency and carrying the Toyota name to other countries.

In June 1954, director of technology Hanji Umehara (later a managing director) renamed the 4WD the LandCruiser. The rest, as they say, is history.