Toyota Landcruiser - 75 Series 1985 -1999

This series of articles offers buying tips and advice on some of our all-time favourite used four wheel drives. Vehicles that have proven themselves and stood the test of time. These vehicles, if serviced and looked after properly, can represent good value for anyone searching for a used 4x4. In this article we deal with the venerable 75 Series Landcruiser.

75 series ute and troopy

The Landcruiser lineage originated in 1951 after a request from the Japanese National Police Reserve Forces to develop a similar 4WD vehicle to the rugged Willys Jeep.

The BJ series was born in response, followed by the FJ Series finally evolving into the familiar look and feel of the 70 Series Landcruiser.

The 70 series was sold across all world markets except for the U.S. and gained a reputation as a rugged business like four wheel drive.

Hundreds of thousands were sold in countries like Australia and Africa. The 75 Series became the work-horse of the pastoral and mining industries and thousands are still in service. It is not unusual to see models clocking up over 500,000km.

At half a million kilometres they're not comfortable but they're still running.


The 75 Series was built around a ladder frame chassis with rigid leaf spring suspension. It was designed to fill the demand for robust, heavy duty four wheel drives that could be used continuously in harsh environments, under less than ideal conditions.

This is reflected in the spartan driver and passenger appointments. These vehicles were built for work and it shows.

The 75 is the long wheel base version of the series (70 - 74 referred to short and medium wheelbase) and the model we are discussing here.

The 75 series was sold as a cab/chassis (ute) or as Troop Carrier with seating for 3, 6 or 11 people.

The front seats were a fairly agricultural affair consisting of a bucket seat for the driver and a bench for 2 passengers. Never famous for being overly comfortable the cabins of these cars didn't offer huge amounts of leg room although the Troop Carrier had generous head clearance.

Solid, leaf sprung axles meant you could drive through a ditch with a tractor on the back or in the case of the 'Troopy', filled with eleven well fed miners. In 1998 the front leaf springs were dropped in favour of coils while soon after the rear leaf springs were extended. This allowed a slight lift in passenger comfort and a bit more articulation. 75 Series are capable over extremely uneven terrain but could never be called 'nimble'.

The 75 Series in Use

The part time four wheel drive meant that front hubs had to be selected manually to engage four wheel drive and power was delivered through a 5 speed, high/low range gearbox and transfer case. A second gear lever was used to actuate the desired range.

These 4x4's are masters at picking through obstacles in low range, especial down tricky hills where the low gearing affords enormous control.

Ground clearance straight from the factory was good and approach and departure angles are adequate.

Engine was the now famous, overhead camshaft 4.2 litre diesel - rated at 89kW at 4000rpm and 271Nm at 2000rpm.

In 1992 the 1FZ-FE twin-cam, 24-valve petrol six was introduced and all models received four wheel disc brakes which do a reasonable job of pulling these fair sized units up. In 1995 the diesel engine was enhanced to deliver 96kw. 75 Series Landcruisers were never designed as sports cars and owners learn to accept that their 4WD's are made to labour along all day and to allow plenty of leeway when overtaking.

Inside controls are reasonably laid out if not a little sparse. Seats were covered in cloth or vinyl trim and vinyl floors were the order of the day.

Options included a second 90 litre fuel tank (delivering a total range of around 1200km), air conditioning, differential locks and a snorkel. It is rare to see a second hand unit without a bull-bar and snorkel. Fitting these items seemed almost mandatory.

A Survivor

Not a lot goes wrong with these vehicles. Diffs and gearboxes seem to last forever if they get decent levels of service and the engines are renowned for their durability.

They're not the most economical four wheel drive (the petrol engines can be absolute fuel monsters), but they're certainly not the worst out there.

Lots of 75's saw service in beachside locations and rust can be an issue especially around windscreens and roof seems.

Window winders give up the ghost eventually and transfer case seals can be an issue.

These vehicles were designed to work and carry weight and many continue to do so. Expect to spend some money on the original springs which will no doubt need some attention.


We love these things. They are well built and do most things right and their reputation for reliability is well deserved. If you accept the limitations of a big heavy four wheel drive with slightly antiquated technology, then a well looked after second hand model can be a great buy.

The article 4WD Accessories, What do you need? offers some tips on outfitting a four wheel drive.

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