Whichever version you choose, follow Castel’s advice, do your checks and you might just bag a Cruiser worthy of its UN reputation.
An expert’s view:
Trevor Castle, Freedom 4x4 Ltd: “My passion for the Land Cruiser began with a J70. I’ve since owned other J70s 80s and 120 series models. The 70s and 80s are easy to work on; 120s a little less so. All are strong with good winching-off capability when you get stuck. My daily driver is a J120 D-4D LC5 with an ARB winch bumper, snorkel and roof rack, a drawer system with a fridge. I drove it to Slovenia this summer and took it on the trails there.”
Engine: Diesels are rattly but check it’s not knock caused by faulty fuel injector controls. With the engine in gear and your foot on the brake, check if the engine rocks more than an inch or so at idle, indicating the pneumatic engine mount bushes have failed. Timing belts should be changed at 100,000 miles.
Gearbox and drivetrain: The automatic is sealed for life but specialists recommend regular fluid changes. Check for coolant contamination – the panel between the coolant radiator and the gearbox oil cooler can rot, causing contamination and wrecking the ’box. Poorly lubed propshafts ‘thump’ when stopping.
Suspension: On top-spec LC5s check the variable-height rear suspension works in all three modes. Inspect the air bags for splits, that the sensors are working and that the car returns to normal height above 30mph. On all versions, check the rear upper control arm bushes, and steering rack bushes.
Brakes: Check for seized calipers and pistons.
Body and chassis: Check the body floor, inner sills, rear axle and rear chassis for corrosion. Look for salt corrosion from towing boats out of the water. Check overhangs for grounding damage.
Interior: On LC5s, check the touchscreen heating controls work – repairs are possible. Heater pipes for the middle-row seats can rot through under the vehicle, causing coolant loss.