Roughly two years ago, American actor Tom Hanks raked in some half-million dollars from the sale of four vehicles from his private collection. The collection’s centerpiece was a unique 1992 Airstream 34-foot travel trailer, but the most nostalgic was the actor’s fully restored 1980 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser. Hanks said he’ll miss the iconic full-size SUV, “but maybe I have some other ideas ahead.”
The classic land cruiser earned a pre-auction estimate of $75,000 to $125,000 but ended up fetching $123,200 after crossing Bonham’s auction block. By comparison, Hagerty auto insurance set the value of a “#1 Concours” level comparable at $72,000. By “comparable,” we mean that Tom Hanks’ vehicle was a specially commissioned Toyota FJ40 for personal use as opposed to SEMA and auto show exhibitions.
A recent Hagerty review of three cars to sell, buy or hold listed the 1968–1983 FJ40 as one to sell. Hagerty’s position makes sense considering prices for the ubiquitous Land Cruiser nosedived the last two years, even though the Toyota SUV continues to lead the market for classic utility vehicles, including the Ford Bronco, Land Rover Defender, and Jeep Scrambler. The FJ40’s falling price and market popularity are likely to continue, making now a sensible time for hoarders to sell and a great time for you to buy.
How Much Is An FJ40 Worth?
The Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser saw its market price double with its popularity in 2014 and 2015, but prices look to have stabilized around an average of $40k, with Classic.com placing the average price of a Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 at $36,081. That’s an interesting turn of events for the model that amplified the market for similar models across brands in recent years, effectively starting the current vintage SUV craze.
“Where our parents’ generation wanted a Corvette convertible, today [we] are looking for something more fun and rugged,” Nelson Calle, CEO of Classic Motors (a company that makes $100,000 restorations of the old Land Cruiser models), told Bloomberg. “We are an active generation, and this vehicle reminds us of simpler times.”
You don’t have to buy over-restored models that can set you back more than $100,000. As reported by Bloomberg, auction-block demand for Toyota Land Cruisers rose dramatically in recent years, from as low as $26,000, on average, in 2006 to more than $80,000 in 2017. Notably, mint-condition FJ40s averaged more than $105,000.
In 2017, a 1968 Ford Bronco ranked as the second-highest-priced car of any sold at Barrett-Jackson. To substantiate the significant spike in the value and demand for classic SUVs and pickups like the FJ40 and Bronco, Hagerty data shows the average value for a first-generation version of the ’68 Bronco pickup is $47,025, up from $23,400 just five years ago.
The trend is the same for others like the Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler. The value rose from $22,500 to nearly $30,000 in the past three years, according to Hagerty. But our focus here is the FJ40, and, as Hagerty says, times have changed for the Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40, and now might be the time to buy as the dust settles after the initial market upheaval.
“Today the FJ40 is an auction fixture,” Hagerty wrote, “often over-restored and generally living the good life as a collector vehicle, its hill-climbing days in the rearview. Similarly, it seems the classic FJ40’s values have also leveled off.” Considering that Hagerty experts earlier said prices for the classic SUVs will continue the upward trajectory, this might be a window you don’t want to miss.
Which Year FJ40 Is The Best?
The FJ40 Land Cruiser fans and just about everyone who has been paying attention to the classic car scene can attest to the ongoing debate about what year is the best Land Cruiser FJ40. While several factors determine the answer to that question, it ultimately depends on personal criteria and values. We say that because the 4×4 utility vehicle was virtually unchanged across decades.
You could see that as a testament to the SUV’s timeless appeal, simple design, and reliable mechanical components. In any case, many points to the 1981 – 1983 models, representing the final years of the Toyota FJ40, as the most modern and best of the crop. For example, the aforementioned model years featured an updated odometer with six digits instead of the five in previous model years.
Hunters for the earlier models might get attracted to their classic rounded headlight bezel, thicker sheet metal, 4:11 gears, and basic, no-nonsense design. These came with 3.9-liter 1F engines paired with a three-speed transmission and drum brakes for stopping power. Even so, a roll bar and disc brakes would not become standard on the FJ40 until the 1974 and 1976 model years, respectively.
The Toyota FJ40 switched to rear ambulance doors and introduced new vinyl door cards on the front doors (in lieu of earlier all-metal doors) in 1975. It added the rear wing windows in 1977 and a fully electronic ignition in 1978. Factory power steering and air conditioning became available in 1979, and the fuel tank moved from beneath the passenger seat to a safer location under the vehicle.
Relocating the tank also allowed the fuel capacity to grow from 16 to 21.6 gallons. As stated earlier, it ultimately boils down to personal criteria and values because the Toyota FJ40 kept seeing minor updates until its last year of production.
Is The FJ40 Reliable?
There’s probably no better testament to the FJ40 Land Cruiser’s reliability than that it was Japan’s version of the renowned WWII-era Jeep, and was good enough for import to the US three years after launching in 1960 to become Toyota’s best-selling vehicle in America. Customers can get it with an open or fully enclosed body – it was the same truck either way.
The fact that the Toyota FJ40 never received significant changes throughout its production years speaks volumes about how good it was just the way it is. The Japanese marque designed the FJ40 as a rugged and reliable farmhand that could get the job done with no need for modern amenities.
With the truck hitting the secondary market, we’re now familiar with high-end restorations of the FJ40, driving up their prices for deep-pocketed bidders to snap up. The Toyota FJ40 set the standard of off-road capability, reliability, and styling for future Land Cruisers.
Sources: Hagerty, Classics, Bloomberg