Extremely Rare Example: 1957 Toyota Land Cruiser

It is a question that will always ignite spirited debate: Does the fact that a classic vehicle is rare necessarily mean that it can command a stratospheric value? That is what we need to consider with this 1957 Toyota Land Cruiser. These vehicles didn’t officially hit the American market until 1958, and even then, the sales total in that first year was precisely one. That means that this Cruiser must have been a private import. It is located in Auburn, California, and has been listed for sale here on Facebook. That brings us to the question of the price. The owner has listed the Toyota with an asking price of $1,000,000. For those who are wondering, my hand didn’t shake over the keyboard. That is the price in the listing.

The owner doesn’t provide us with any concrete information on this Toyota’s history, but the lack of visible penetrating rust suggests that it hasn’t spent an extended period in wetter climates. There’s plenty of surface corrosion, but addressing that will not be a huge problem. We receive no information on the state of the frame, but the dry appearance of the rest of the vehicle allows me to feel cautiously optimistic about its structural integrity. The other positive to take from the listing is that the Cruiser does appear to be essentially complete. It is missing a few items like the front turning signals and some badges, but all of the major components appear to be present. The only piece of glass in these early models was the windshield, and while this one is free from cracks, it has started to go cloudy around the edges. The buyer will need to source a replacement and a new seal, which could be a challenge. It may prove necessary to source these items from a Japanese supplier, as they aren’t likely to be thick on the ground in the US. There’s no hiding the fact that returning the Land Cruiser to its best is going to be a nut-and-bolt process, but there’s also no doubt that it will turn heads when the process is complete.

If ever you needed a graphic demonstration of the bulletproof engineering that went into the Land Cruiser, you only needed to lift the hood. Hiding in the engine bay is the 3,978cc “F-Series” six-cylinder engine introduced into Toyota’s range in 1949. It was common during this period for Japanese manufacturers to build components, and sometimes entire cars, under license from western companies. The F-Series was no exception, deriving much of its engine block architecture from Chevrolet’s 235ci “Thrift-King” six. The cylinder head was Toyota’s take on the same item from the “Stovebolt” six, and while their overall appearances were remarkably similar, there were no interchangeable parts between these motors. Nevertheless, it seems that the design team and engineers got it right with the F-Series six. It was introduced in 1949 and remained in production with only minor evolutionary changes until the end of the 1975 model year. In good health, this engine should be pumping out 120hp, which is fed to a transfer case via a 4-speed manual transmission. Once again, the owner doesn’t supply a lot of information for his asking price, so we can only hope that he is willing to answer questions posed by potential buyers. It isn’t clear whether the Land Cruiser is numbers-matching, or whether the motor turns freely. However, given the Toyota’s reputation for inherent toughness, I wouldn’t be surprised if the buyer was able to coax it back to life with surprisingly little effort.

From Day One, Toyota was quite candid about their confidence in the longevity of the Land Cruiser. One of their earliest print advertisements used the byline, “We’ll know how long it lasts when the first one wears out.” There’s no doubt that finding one of this vintage today is a rare treat, but does that rarity justify a seven-figure asking price? I suspect that this price was set as a tongue-in-cheek exercise to encourage potential buyers to contact the seller. Nailing down an accurate value for this one will not be easy because they rarely come onto the market. One sold at auction in 2017 for $66,000, but a beautifully restored example went under the hammer at Bonhams in 2019 and only fetched $33,600. That latter vehicle achieved that price against an auction estimate of $84,000, which shows that rarity doesn’t always equate to tremendous potential values. Is this a project car that you would be tempted to pursue further with those thoughts in mind?

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Comments

  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    First one of that vintage I’ve ever seen. Get this fixed up and take it to a few shows, I’m sure you won’t see another one. It would be somewhat of a challenge finding parts but nothing is impossible. $1M is certainly out of my budget but it might be within someone else’s. I guess if you don’t ask for it you will never know. I do know that a guy sold a Rikou 750 motorcycle for $29K about 35 years ago but it was restored to showroom condition. That was also a bike and this is an Off-Road 4×4. But anything is possible. Just attend the BJ Auction on the Saturday of the event when they sell the Blue Chip stuff. Powerball, here we come…

    Like 4
  2. Todd Zuercher

    I think this would have a 3 speed, not a 4 speed.

    Like 5
    • Rob

      The FJ25s had a 4sp granny first syncro in 3rd and 4th and no low range. Also no turn signals on the front fenders.

      • Todd Zuercher

        Thanks Rob! Learned something new!

        Like 1
  3. FOG

    Cough! (Speechless)

    Like 2
  4. Poppy

    Maybe the seller meant 1,000,000 Yen.

    Like 6
    • Engident

      Even $9,067 is more than I’d ever part with for this.

      Like 2
  5. Ralph

    Sorry but we are not talking about the Holy Grail here. It is insane to ask this kind of money, this is not a rare 60 year old Ferrari race car here.
    Just when I think we have seen everything when it comes to greed, someone new crawls out from under their rock to insult us with a false perception of reality.
    YMMV

    Like 2
  6. Gabe

    This is not what the listing states. It is a 1960 not a 1957. Not nearly as rare. Missing a lot of original parts.

  7. Steve R

    The price, $1,000,000 should be taken any more seriously than adds for $1 or $123,456. They are on a fishing expedition, trying to get offers, to lazy or disingenuous to do their own research and come up with a realistic price.

    Steve R

    Like 4
  8. Tony B.

    If the seller truly thought they had a million dollar vehicle here-they would have made some effort to showcase it properly. Putting it on a lift, numerous detailed photos, and pulling it away from other rusty vehicles to photograph, would have been a great start… I’ve owned a couple of these, a ’63 and a ’78. Maybe the fellow’s wife or partner insisted that they finally put something up for sale… That’s the kind of price I would list, in that case. ;)

    Like 3
  9. tomc

    If it is an import, it was intended for a country with left hand drive, because all Asian countries use right hand drive.

    ‘Crabs

    Like 2
    • XJSLord

      Its actually an even 16 – 16 split between RHD and LHD

  10. Terrry

    This was actually the first ‘TRD” version too. ‘Terminally Rusted Derelict”

    Like 2
    • Poppy

      I think you’d have a hard time polishing this TRD.

      Like 2
  11. Howard A Member

    Okay, posted clearly for shock value, and I think it’s a waste of time having the talented writers writing anything about this foolishness. I know, it all pays the same, but we shouldn’t encourage stuff like this, except in a comical fashion. This is nothing more than how far of an extreme the hobby can be exploited.

    Like 2
  12. Rob

    The FJ25s had a 4sp granny first syncro in 3rd and 4th and no low range. Also no turn signals on the front fenders.

  13. Rob

    The FJ25s had a 4 speed granny first gear tranny, no low range.

  14. Ian McColl

    As mentioned earlier the seller is entertaining offers and has not defined a true selling price. If you look at some of their other ads they mention that the price is not actually the price but that they are accepting offers. If this one is worth a million my dad has a 1983 that he bought new. It’s a diesel (Canada). Completely original including the exhaust. Never been out in the winter and rarely rain. Still has markings on the springs. I wonder what it is worth. Red with a 5 speed, factory wagon wheels and tinted windows. This combination was only offered in 1983 and 1984 in this body style. 1982 had a four speed with the smaller diesel.

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