Used Toyota Land Cruiser 70-Series review: 1984-2017
July 30, 2005
The 70-Series is a seriously rough and tough vehicle that will cope with the roughest conditions in the country, but it's really out of its depth in town. It is a big and cumbersome vehicle that needs to be driven with a large amount of common sense in traffic. But if you want a reliable vehicle for the round-Australia dream drive that won't cost you an arm and a leg, then it's worth considering.
The 70-Series is one of the last uncivilised Landcruisers. That's not to put it down. It was simply designed to work hard. Built on a ladder frame, the 70-Series came in a range of models in short and long wheelbases with ute, hardtop and troop carrier body styles.
Back when four-wheel-drives were driven by men in hard hats, blue singlets and Blundstone boots, Toyota's Landcruiser was the king. Underneath it had solid axles slung from leaf springs front and back. It was great for going bush, with plenty of ground clearance and good articulation, but it made for a hard ride.
Toyota offered a choice of petrol and diesel engines. The 4.0-litre overhead valve six-cylinder petrol engine boasted 111kW and 284Nm, and the 4.0-litre overhead valve diesel six had 72kW and 229Nm.
A five-speed manual gearbox was standard, with high ratio two-wheel-drive, plus low ratio four-wheel drive able to be selected via a transfer case. The front hubs had to be locked manually.
The 70-Series Landcruiser didn't have many creature comforts. The seats were trimmed in a hard-wearing cloth, the plastics were simple and basic, and the floor was covered in vinyl mats.
IN THE SHOP
THE first and most important thing to understand is that the Landcruiser is often used by serious offroaders. Though it is perhaps the toughest vehicle around, it needs proper and regular maintenance to help it survive. It won't survive if it isn't serviced, so it's important to see a service record. If there isn't one, get a check by an acknowledged specialist.
Rust is a problem. The most common places to see rust are around the windscreen and the side windows, but you might also see it around the roof where it joins the body sides.
It's also important to check underneath. Running for hours on dirt roads can be like sandblasting the underbody, stripping the paint and protection right back to the bare metal, which can then rust.
Caring owners will have moved things such as diff breathers higher to minimise the chances of water entry in river crossings, but even then it's almost impossible to eliminate it.
The 70-Series is generally a hardy vehicle and little goes wrong with its engines, gearboxes and diffs if they're regularly serviced. Some petrol-engined Landcruisers have been converted to LPG, but be wary of them because they add load to the cooling system.
A regular problem that Dragan Vasic of All Terrain 4x4 has seen is failure of the seal on the transfer case input shaft. Replacing the seal can be an expensive exercise, but there's a less expensive fix which is often employed and doesn't involved stripping the transfer case.
Vasic recommends repacking the front axle bearings every 40,000km minimum, earlier if you're regularly driving through water, and replacing the swivel hub seals and gaskets as well.
Window regulators are a common failure, but the cause is usually found in the window channels which are often pinched, making it hard to crank the glass up and down.
NICK Bywater bought his 1985 70-Series Troop Carrier three years ago to do just that. As a scout leader, he uses it to transport the boys and their gear as well as go on the occasional serious four-wheel-drive adventure. He knew of the 70-Series' reputation for toughness and reliability in rough and rugged conditions.
A check by All Terrain 4x4 identified a few minor problems that needed attention, but it was otherwise in quite good condition. It has clocked 327,000km and shows no sign of tiring.
SAFETY wasn't a high priority for the designers. Their brief was to design a vehicle to stand up in the harshest conditions on earth. Safety simply was not critical. Mass and a rigid chassis are the keys to the old Landcruiser's safety performance.
THE BOTTOM LINE
ROUGH but reliable wagon. The 70-Series is generally a hardy vehicle and little goes wrong with its engines, gearboxes and diffs if they are regularly serviced.