In terms of the performance, the 55 Series was a bit of a dog. It came with either a 3 speed or 4 speed manual gearbox with high and low range available. The engine put out a whopping 75kW from the 3.9 litre in-line six cylinder motor. In 1975, the 3.9 litre engine was replaced with the 4.2 litre L2F engine which upped the performance to 94kW and 272Nm of torque.
Originally the FJ55 had 4 wheel drum brakes, but with the change of engine size, Toyota changed to front discs, improving the ability to stop the 2 tonnes when you needed. One unique aspect of this 4WD was the rear tailgate which had a retractable window.
Off road, the FJ55 was quite capable. It had fairly narrow tyres as standard, so would struggle in soft sandy conditions, but otherwise this vehicle was taken to some fairly extreme locations with ease. I had the opportunity to drive one in the 80’s and it handled like a truck on road, but off road it felt stable and capable.
In 1980 Toyota replaced the 55 Series with what became the much more popular 60 Series. One interesting fact about the Land Crusier is that Toyota do extensive testing in Australia where it is one of the most popular 4WD’s sold (overall, not the 55!). The 55 Series was often called the Iron Pig and 4WD enthusiasts are still to this day divided on the looks and styling of this ancient beast.