1971 FJ40 Land Cruiser Survivor
What is a survivor Land Cruiser? My definition includes that in order to be in the survivor category, a Land Cruiser has to have escaped most of the tinkering and modifications that are all too often performed by many hands over the years of the car’s ownership. Because so many of us like to make a vehicle represent us more once we own it, it’s getting harder to find Land Cruisers that haven’t been modified, built, or restored. When one pops up, it’s usually a cool discovery. The reason we find its exciting is that an unmodified Land Cruiser is a like a window into the past. They are a way for us to see exactly the way Toyota did things. Vehicles like this also tell us lots of stories. Dents and scratches, and in this case, even a broken jack handle, can all tell us of the adventures that the vehicle saw.
This FJ40 has all of the above. There are a couple of modifications, the standard CB antenna mount that all FJ40s seem to have gotten at one point or another, the poorly placed aftermarket antenna, the white spoke wagon wheels, and in this case, the dreaded and unspeakable upside down bezel. But all of these modifications are small. That and the fact that this vehicle has almost no mechanical or body alterations, and even had the original tool kit under the seat, means we can still confidently call this FJ40 a survivor. A funny side-note is that this FJ40 got a Grateful Dead sticker instead of the standard NRA sticker, proof that people from both sides of the political spectrum love Land Cruisers!
Read below for details.
An aside…The upside down bezel…has been the aggravation of many a true Toyota Land Cruiser enthusiast for years. This sort of common faux pas of mounting the iconic FJ40 bezel with the thick side down is a sure sign of total ineptitude and ignorance by the installer…or so we like to think. Kurt Williams, hopefully just playing the devil’s advocate, has argued the point with me a couple of times. It’s true, there is early Toyota literature with illustrations of FJ40s with the bezel indeed mounted what we consider as upside down. That orientation of the bezel however results in the TOYOTA logo being uncentered top to bottom in the space. It looks funny and out of proportion and there’s no way Toyota intended it to be that way. And if you need further proof, the 1962 FJ40 bezel actually had Land Cruiser stamped in it. If that bezel had been mounted the way it is on this FJ40, the text would have been upside down. So how does this happen? I have 2 reasons why I think it happens, but I’m sure there are many more. One, the bezel must be removed to change or aim the headlights. It’s not unreasonable to imagine that the orientation could be confused upon reassembly by accident. That’s probably what happened with this 40. It’s got one original headlight and one replacement. The other common thing I’ve seen is the bezel installed upside down for use as a license plate mount, with two holes drilled in the thicker part of the frame to hang a plate off of.
As to the early Toyota literature with the upside down bezel? I wager that the installer of the bezel on the cruiser in those photos had to practice Hansei for an extended period of time.