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Despite much of our motoring history being dominated by six-cylinder engines, it’s no secret Australians love a V8 engine.
The V8 LandCruiser might be nearing the end of its run as a Toyota production model (2021’s 300 Series is widely tipped not to incorporate a V8 option), but there are still ways to get what your heart desires.
And since a V8 engine has been a factory option for more than two decades now, there’s lots of scope for snaring a second-hand one.
Or, you could do what plenty of homegrown engineers have done before today, and brew up your own take on the V8 LandCruiser theme.
Either way, there are more ways to get a LandCruiser V8 than you might have imagined.
So, let’s start with which LandCruiser configurations have been available with a V8 engine from the factory over the years.
The first factory Toyota LandCruiser V8 was the 100 Series, which replaced the 80 Series in 1998.
While the carryover 1FZ-FE petrol six-cylinder engine remained in the 105 Series of the same time (basically a reskinned 80 Series), the 100 Series in petrol form used the 4.7-litre 2UZ-FE petrol V8.
Toyota claimed 170kW and 410Nm for the V8, and the engine was definitely smooth and powerful, although whether it was THAT much of an improvement over the 1FZ-FE is debatable.
To be completely honest, although Australians liked the idea of a V8 Cruiser, the fact that it arrived first as a petrol suggests the impetus was coming from the North American and Middle East markets first and foremost.
Toyota really played the V8 card when the 200 Series LandCruiser arrived in 2007.
Suddenly, there was no six-cylinder option at all, and it was a V8 all the way, regardless of whether you went petrol or diesel.
In the case of the former, the engine was still the 2UZ-FE (although peak power was now out to 202kW) and if you went diesel, you got the all-new 4.5-litre 1VD-FTV V8 diesel with twin turbochargers and peak power of 195kW and a whopping 650Nm of torque.
The petrol LandCruiser V8 engine could be had in the V8 GXL LandCruiser and up (VX and Sahara), while the diesel V8 was also available on the base-model GX.
Yes, you can. Toyota never offered a petrol V8 in the 78 or 79 Series workhorse range, but in 2007, Toyota did fit Australian dual-cab, single-cab, Workmate and Troop-Carrier Cruisers with the turbo-diesel V8, ditching the twin-turbo layout for a simpler, cheaper-to-make single-turbo set-up.
Power was 151kW and torque maxxed out at 430Nm.
From this point onwards, there were no factory LandCruisers without a V8 engine, unless you count the Prado models as true LandCruisers (which most people don’t).
And these days, when dual-cabs apparently rule the planet, a V8 dual-cab LandCruiser is a very desirable model.
In terms of the factory petrol V8, not really.
The engine has a fine reputation and is considered a million-kilometre engine if it’s maintained correctly and driven sensibly.
The LandCruiser V8 diesel, meanwhile, had a slightly rocky start where it was found to sometimes be a bit of an oil-burner.
But Toyota modified the piston-ring design as a running change fairly early on in the game and that problem disappeared.
The bottom line is that the later the diesel V8’s build date, the better it is likely to be.
That’s also true for the petrol 200 Series models which got a six-speed automatic transmission (to replace the five-speed unit) and a slightly bigger engine (4.6 litres) as part of the 2012 facelift.
As well as having a potentially very long lifespan, the Toyota V8 in petrol form will sound and feel familiar to anybody with experience of production V8 engines.
It’s quite smooth and doesn’t mind a rev, but it does its best work at low to middling revs where the torque can really be felt.
The turbo-diesel V8, meanwhile, is a bit of a rarity in the first place (most manufacturers haven’t gone down the diesel V8 road) and it’s in a world of its own in this class of vehicle.
But it’s quite civilised to drive and had heaps of low-down grunt; perfect for towing or off-roading.
And it sounds brilliant.
Working on the principle that anything is possible, it’s quite feasible to do your own V8 conversion at home.
The bigger question is why you need to, now that there have been both factory petrol and V8 LandCruisers on offer for years now.
But before the factory V8 days, plenty of people did, indeed, swap the old Toyota sixes for V8s.
There have been a range of aftermarket LandCruiser V8 conversion kits, most of which require you to source your own engine, while the kit provides the hardware such as engine mounts, cross-members and bell-housings, as well as some of the plumbing and necessary wiring.
Popular V8 engines over the years have included Ford, Holden and Chevrolet small-block engines and, more recently, the Chevrolet LS1 alloy V8, as well as the 5.3-litre cast-iron version of the LS1 as found in USA school buses and light trucks.
Those are all petrol options, of course, and for a V8 diesel Cruiser, many have turned to a range of Cummins, Caterpillar and other engines from North American light trucks.
In the very early days of V8 conversions, the US-spec Oldsmobile diesel V8 was a common choice, too.
There has also been the odd workhorse LandCruiser that’s been converted to a twin-turbo V8 LandCruiser with the turbo hardware from a 200 Series, but it’s not a common upgrade.
A much more common theme is to fit a larger single turbocharger to the V8 along with a bigger intercooler.
What does a Land Cruiser V8 conversion cost? That’s one of those classic how-long-is-a-piece-of-string deals.
It will all depend on how much work you do yourself, which engine you decide to use and whether you rebuild it before you fit it, or just buy a second-hand V8 and hope for the best.
There’s also the matter of making the thing legal, which will involve a consulting engineer in most cases and perhaps more modifications as a result.
Then there’s mating it all to the rest of the driveline (gearbox and transfer-case) and making sure it has a supply of fuel.
In any of those cases, you’ll be spending thousands of dollars, not hundreds.
Because the petrol V8 sold alongside the turbo-diesel six-cylinder LandCruisers, the latter was the engine of choice for Aussie outback tourers and off-roaders.
As a result, the diesel V8 – particularly the workhorse 70 Series versions – is the one that has received the most interest from modifiers.
The first thing many people do is fit a larger-diameter exhaust system to liberate some of that V8 music.
An intercooler, bigger turbo and revised fuelling system (injectors, pumps etc) are often next, but since the V8 diesel uses common-rail technology, this is not a job for the backyard tinkerer.
Messing with the fuel system also usually means a fiddle of the computer-control of the engine’s functions.
Some tuners like to do this with the standard hardware, others prefer to swap the Memcal and will use whatever brand they consider to be the best diesel chip for a V8 LandCruiser.
The other modification we’re seeing more and more with the workhorse models is to fling the standard five-speed manual gearbox and fit a six-speed automatic from the 200 Series.
This makes the vehicle easier to live with, more partner-friendly in a lot of cases and only makes it an even better vehicle off-road and when towing a decent load.
It’s not a cheap conversion, however.
Driveline aside, the LandCruiser is often treated to many thousands of dollars’ worth of accessories and modifications including camping gear, fridges, swing-out kitchens, roof racks, winches, bull-bars and extra lighting. If you’ve seen it on a four-wheel-drive, you’ll also see it on a V8 Cruiser.
Beware of a vehicle with a huge, five-post bulbar, as these can seriously mess up the vehicle’s airbag functions in a crash.
But trust us, a modified V8 Toyota LandCruiser is now probably more common than an unmodified one.
Although it hasn’t become a widely used layout, Toyota did go to the trouble of designing and making a turbo-diesel V8.
Although not necessarily appealing to the Middle East and North American markets (which prefer petrol engines in this type of vehicle), the diesel V8 was a smash hit in Australia and continues to sell well.
In fact, sales have been so strong, it’s almost a wonder nobody else has tackled the concept.
If you bought a diesel V8 LandCruiser because you though diesels were good on fuel, you’re in for a shock.
This remains a big, heavy vehicle with lots of driveline drag and an aerodynamic profile similar to a small building.
The official figures tell the story, and with an official combined fuel consumption figure of 10.3L per 100km for the 200 Series diesel, 11.5L/100km for the diesel workhorse models and a whopping 13.6L/100km for the petrol V8 200 Series, it’s pretty easy to see the likely effect on your fuel bills.
Even then, those vehicles have no real hope in the real world of matching those numbers, and off-road, in low-range, it’s even worse, and figures of 30L/100km are not out of the question in sand-dune country.
Towing a caravan or camper? Then add another 50 per cent to those numbers.
Engine oil is a constantly evolving commodity, so the later the engine’s build date, the better, more sophisticated the oil it’s been designed for.
Your owner’s manual will give you the specific grade and weight of oil that represents the best oil for a V8 LandCruiser.
The best advice beyond getting the grade and type right, is to only use quality, known brands of oil.
Avoid the 'brand X' stuff sold at supermarkets, and go for an established brand that you can trust.
As for capacity, the petrol V8 in the Toyota requires 6.8 litres of oil for an oil-change, while the diesel V8 LandCruiser oil capacity is 9.2 litres.
It should come as no real surprise to learn that both the petrol and turbo-diesel V8 LandCruisers have a good reputation for reliability and durability.
That’s just Toyota for you, apparently.
Starting with the petrol V8, V8 100 Series LandCruiser problems are likely to centre around the fact that the vehicle may now have travelled lots and lots of kilometres and, therefore, could be suffering general wear and tear.
That will only be more obvious if a lot of those kilometres have been covered off-road.
But if problems do crop up in individual vehicles, it probably won’t be down to the engine itself.
The petrol V8 is a very tough customer and capable of racking up huge distances provided it’s serviced properly.
The only real grizzle from the trade is that the petrol V8 mounts its starter motor high up under the intake manifold, so replacing that starter motor involves lots of hours and that means bigger repair bills.
Actually, the starter-motor location is a complaint that carries across to the list of LandCruiser V8 diesel problems, because it’s in roughly the same place.
The placement of some of the vehicle’s electronics in this under-bonnet area has also caused some raised eyebrows over the years, mainly in terms of the Cruiser’s wading-depth limit.
Some early built 200 Series LandCruisers experienced CV joint failures - Toyota made running changes to fix this - and the well-publicised oil-burning problems of early V8 diesels was also fixed with a new piston design as a running change.
Some owners have discovered that the diesel engine lets in a bit of dust in rough conditions, and this can cause engine and turbocharger problems.
Dust making its way into the motor can destroy turbochargers, contaminate the air-flow meter and cause irreparable damage to engine internals such as piston rings.
Experts reckon the plastic the air-box is made from is the culprit and allows too much flex to properly seal and force all the air through the air-filter.
The solution is to be very careful fitting the air-box lid and to even add a smear of Vaseline around the sealing edge as a double measure.
On the plus side, V8 LandCruiser injector problems (a common gripe on many other makes and models) don’t seem such an issue with the diesel V8.
That’s probably due to the bigger, lazier V8 engine never being as stressed as smaller, four-cylinder units typical of other models.
Toyota LandCruiser V8 ute problems (as opposed to the 200 Series) are more likely to be caused by a hard previous life and lots of off-road action, rather than any design flaws.
That includes worn five-speed manual gearboxes which have been used to tow heavy loads in the overdriven fifth gear (definitely not recommended).
Many workshops recommend an oil separator (also known as a catch can) be fitted to prevent a build-up of black gunk in the intake manifold as a result of the vehicle’s factory emission controls.
A quality V8 LandCruiser catch can will run to a few hundred dollars but can be a good idea in the long run.
Thanks to the popularity of the V8 LandCruiser concept, finding a second-hand one is a no-brainer.
You can check out websites like this one and then decide whether to shop privately or from a dealer.
A private buy will probably be a bit cheaper, but a dealership has a variety of legal requirements including guaranteeing a clear title, organising a roadworthy certificate and even offering a warranty in many cases.
A V8 LandCruiser ute for sale is a common thing in rural areas, while both petrol and diesel 200 Series Cruisers are found everywhere.
The LandCruiser V8 price range is a vast one.
There are many models and specifications to choose from, along with the fact that condition and history are critical in vehicles like these which can be worked hard and used to play hard.
That said, many a LandCruiser V8 has been used for nothing more arduous than the school run, so check each one out on its own merits to see if the price stacks up.
The cheapest 100 Series petrol V8s are now likely to be (on a weight-for-age basis) around the mid-to-high teens while the cheapest single-cab utes with the diesel V8 are still nudging the $30,000 mark.
If you can find even an early build 200 Series diesel V8 for less than about $40,000, it will only be because the thing has covered close to half-a-million kilometres.
In fact, the vehicle is a bit of a victim of its own success, with resale values staying high thanks to the popularity of the concept.
And don’t bother waiting for prices to come down; rumours of Toyota ditching the turbo-diesel V8 for the next model has fuelled demand, so prices will stay high.