Friday, January 31, 2014


To all other Toyota distributors and marketing executives and those at Nissan, Isuzu, Honda, Jeep and other makers the 4wd vehicles I'll be talking about here.

I'm an American consumer. White, middle aged, professional, married with children and both of us work.

I've owned Toyotas now for over 30 years personally. Add to that another five years when my dad bought a Celica before I bought my first one myself in 1983.

My only regret in owning Toyotas was that in 1988 I SHOULD HAVE bought a Landcruiser instead of the Tercel I got. I thought I should economize at that time, going to school and all, and although I had a paid off trade in worth quite a bit and could have had low payments on the Landcruiser, the gas mileage scared me.

I laugh out loud at that now, with gas prices now vs. then.

The point of this post is, I want a REAL 4wd vehicle that is not some luxury mobile I can't afford. Yes, the current model Landcruiser and it's Lexus twin and vehicles of their ilk like the Land Rover are quite marvelous vehicles, and fabulously out of my reach.

I've often wondered why they don't make a "bare bones" edition of the current full size Landcruiser, dropping $25k or $30k off the price leaving a 4wd machine you can drive on the street, sans all the luxury extras that make the current Landcruiser almost indistinguishable from it's Lexus twin in terms of extras and luxury.

That leaves, other than trucks, as "real" 4wd vehicles the venerable Jeep Wrangler, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and the Toyota FJ Cruiser. If the FJ Cruiser were somewhat longer with 4 full passenger doors and a bigger cargo area, then that's what I'd buy. I'm talking about an extension that would give a cargo area the size of the 1980's FJ Landcruisers, not the tiny just barely bigger than a Wrangler cargo area that the FJ Cruiser features.

We've owned a Wrangler before, for many years. It did leak a lot, usually mystery leaks that resolved and went away. We might consider an Unlimited, but I wish we had more choices with more cargo room that the Unlimited offers.

Unrelated to my desire for an old school Landcruiser, I'd also like to see a Jeep pickup truck worthy of the Jeep name. The old full size 4wd pickup, the "J" series that ended in 1983 I think, was a great truck. Instead of the custom and priced at $50k or more converted Wranglers that are being offered as "custom Jeep trucks", I'd like to see a real truck with a REAL extra shift lever for 4wd right out of the Wrangler or Rubicon. With a big engine with some torque like the Jeep trucks in the days of yore, 30 years ago, had.

My good friend Billy Ray had the follow up to the J series of Jeep trucks, the Comanche. When he called me, I was very excited for him. I knew the old J series trucks were rough and tough and very cool vehicles. Unfortunately, that day in 1997 he got it and when I saw that Comanche I was dis.a.ppoint.ed. big time. While it later proved capable in some 4wd situations, I recall one time Billy Ray sorta scraped against a parking lot light pole base and it basically ripped the front end off of his car, leaving a radiator, engine and fenders on each side. Luckily, it left the headlights and running lights, so it was legal, but it was not a tribute to solid construction.

So along with a more utilitarian Landcruiser, I'd like to see a nice Jeep truck worthy of the reputation and again something competitive with other trucks with similar specs.

As I have posted before, I do not understand why Toyota does not import an Americanized version of the current rendition of the 1983-1990 Toyota FJ 60 4 door Landcruiser. In all accuracy, I believe that it had some different numbers after the FJ for some of the years, but I'm not sure. But google FJ 60 if in doubt and you'll know the vehicle I'm talking about. In 1990, Toyota switched this vehicle to a larger and heavier design and it became more fancy and luxurious and is out of reach for the common family and person. 

I see pictures from all over the world, and even as close to Texas as Latin America. Certainly, they're all over Asia and Africa and I believe Australia. They are an updated version of the 1980's Landcruiser. What I call the old school Landcruiser.

I know from various for sale websites in other countries that Toyota still builds a modernized version of the venerable 1980's FJ series. 4 doors and a hatchback deal. Real 4wd that is controlled with a lever not a button. Some serious torque. A nice but simple interior. They also make a version in a single cab pick up truck, which is a vehicle I'd like to have as well.

Both of these vehicles would sell like crazy in this country. For the regular guy like me, I can't import one and pay a shop to have it legalized for import purposes. But an automotive maker could easily absorb those costs, since they already make the updated safety and emission products and it's a simple matter of introducing those to the vehicles still sold in countries not requiring such things.

I wish Toyota would market this vehicle in America.

Likewise, I see all kinds of new vehicles from Ford. I'd love to see a modern interpretation of the old school early 70's Bronco. If I were an engineer for Ford, I'd re imagine it as a modern version of the Land Rover Defender, with just a bit more length than the early Bronco models had. And with the power that the Defender has, because some Broncos back in the day had some big Ford V-8 engines in them. And those engines had some torque for off- roading with some serious 4wd transmissions attached.

And then there is Isuzu. In the early 90's, had I known then what a great off-roading vehicle that the Trooper was, I'd have had one. I still see a lot of these vintage vehicles on the road.

Billy Ray's friend Dan has one from the early 90s that he bought for something like $1,000 and put another $1,000 in it, and together Billy and Dan have traversed the often hard to travel beaches of the Padre Island National Seashore while beach wilderness surf fishing. Billy Ray claims that whilst they encounter many other brands of stuck 4wd vehicles (never any Dodge 4wd full size trucks, though), the Trooper has in effect been...wait for it...a trooper in the deep sands of Padre. Billy Ray claims the automatic transmission is the way to go for Padre Island wilderness four wheeling. 

So I'd sure like to Izusu make a real 4wd again as back in the day, those Troopers were affordable. Something more on the spartan side and less on amenities. Same with Nisssan. They could take their large truck frame, seat a SUV body on it and make a real 4wd suv. 

I'll mention a couple of other old rides that deserve remembering. The International Scout was a vehicle that fit the description of what I'm looking for, and they made several other similar models as well. Those days are gone.

1 comment:

  1. (fondly remembering my rusty but trusty 1966 International Scout and its spartan sheet metal interior... gosh, that little beast was fun... )