Sweet Stripes: 1986 Toyota Land Cruiser

Nothing sets off an ’80s Toyota truck quite like the right graphics, and this ’86 Land Cruiser goes from beige to boing! with its root beer-gradient appliqués. What’s more, it’s said that it “runs and drives great just like it did when it rolled off the showroom floor in 1986”; I rolled off the showroom floor in ’86, too, so to speak, and I wish I could say the same. But then, no one’s asking $15,950 (or best offer) for me…let’s check it out here on craigslist out of Watsonville, California, and see if it earns its $16k stripes (archived ad).

The seller picked the right image to start with; as we move around the truck to the driver’s side, the graphics look a little less showroom-fresh. Still, there’s no substitute for originality, and the overall effect is so charming that I’ll indulge some imperfections. This Cruiser hails from Arizona originally, which could account for the fading, but also helps explain the solid, rust-free condition.

The seller does well to harp on the originality of this wagon (although I see you, modern head unit and speakers), but I might quibble with the description of the interior as “near mint.” In addition to the disclosed splits in the driver’s seat, I see multiple cracks in the dash cap, and the seats and door panels lead me to think that it’s awfully hard to keep this fabric from starting to look dingy after a while. Still, the cabin is appealingly roomy, and I agree that the condition of the headliner is impressive.

Time warps are all well and good but, as they say, it’s the miles, not the years that count. In this case, the miles total 175,755, which is not too bad for a 31-year-old vehicle of any sort, and especially for the robust inline six of an FJ60 Land Cruiser. Displacing a brawny 4.2 liters, the 2F six pumps its 135 horses through a four-speed manual (to all four wheels, natch). This mechanical simplicity comes as a refreshing contrast to today’s $80k luxury liner Land Cruisers.

Being in the presence of this Land Cruiser, we are told, is “like going back in a time machine to 1986!” While I’m not sure how appealing I find that proposition—I like being potty trained, thank you very much—the retro appeal of this wagon is undeniable. Whether that appeal is worth $16k…well, I’ll throw that one out to all of you!


WANTED 1987 Mercury Merkur Ideally rust free, nicely optioned, solid running car w/ man. trans. Also consider 85&86. Contact

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  1. Chris Londish Member

    This one has had a bit of use the drivers seat and decals looking well worn and $16 thou without a marti be very wary could cost a lot in drive line repairs but they are becoming quite collectable so as long as there,s not a lot of rust it’s probably worth the money

    • Drew

      A “Marti” (report)…on a Toyota???

    • DorsoDoug

      From martiauto.com
      Marti Reports are currently available for all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles built in the United States or Canada 1967-2012.

  2. Luke Fitzgerald

    Weren’t they all this color?

  3. XMA0891

    Second-to-last of the greatest years for these. Of course this one has a third pedal! $16 K is steep, but I am betting they’ll get it as there is not rot. These really are great trucks!

  4. Big Al

    Sorry, I’d get an Edge, or Explorer with that kind of dough. With well under 100k miles. Maybe a late model one of those? That one might just be the one easily lasts 300,000 miles or more someday. Too pricy.

  5. JW

    Toyota’s are awesome vehicles for dependability up to 500K miles if well maintained, their biggest issue is rust. This one is nice but I would have to negotiate a lower price. I just bought a 2000 Toyota Avalon that is in showroom condition but with 175K highway miles from a professional businessman for $1500 he was asking 2K, it’s for my niece who needs a cheap car for college.

  6. Doug

    One neat thing about the Land Cruiser is they are easy to do a small block Chevy conversion to…… I’ve seen a number of this version built with 327 or 350 engines that run great and get good fuel economy – I’d bet that adding one of the newer carb replacement fuel injection systems would net well over 20mpg in normal city/highway driving.

    • Tony, Australia.

      I know a guy here in Australia who did the Chev small block conversion on one of these, he got out into the rough sandy country and screwed both inner ends off the front axle splined shafts, they weren’t designed for the torque of a V8, plus being recycled Japanese ‘steel’ ! We see these things on our roads daily, they’re still very common and popular ‘downunder’.

  7. Gay Car Nut

    Sweet looking Land Cruiser FJ60. The price is rather steep for my tastes, even given how original survivor it is.

  8. charlie Member

    Great vehicle, but, for 1/4 of that money you can buy a 12 year old 4Runner which is a much better vehicle, airbags, etc., with AWD or locking differentials, high and low range, V8 and a barely worn interior, and no rust issues as plagued the 1980’s Toyotas. But if you just want to “collect it”, this is the one!

  9. Gay Car Nut

    For an SVU of this vintage, $15k is a tad steep. I’d pay 1/2 that for one this nice driver.

  10. Danton J A Cardoso

    It’s not permanent four wheel drive like an FJ 80. Thusly, that 4.2 and four speed drive the rears until the front hubs are locked and transfer cased shifted into four high or low depending on conditions.

  11. Gay Car Nut

    I prefer part-time 4wd over the more modern full-time AWD. One thing the Land Cruiser should’ve been offered with is a turbo-diesel engine. Think about it. The Chevy/GMC Suburban was available with a 6.2 litre V8 diesel engine. I fail to see what harm in offering an FJ60 with a turbo-diesel engine of its own would’ve been.

  12. Hal

    Overall Toyota is a bullet proof vehicle.
    Noted for huge millage and run great as well as solid vehicle.
    As a past owner of a few of this product I speak the truth over other makes.

  13. JohnD

    This would be a great starting point for a total restoration. The selling point is the fact that there’s no rust, but it’s likely that every bit of rubber on this Cruiser will need to be replaced due to the dry climate. Ask me how I know…

  14. Hal

    Yes John you are right.
    Also most likely all gaskets well need to be upgraded.
    Having lived in southern Arizona for a number of years it is common to pay very close attention to anything that is not metal.

  15. Pete

    If it had less than 100K miles I could see the asking price or better overall condition. The only thing this jewel has going for it is that it is a rust free SUV your gonna need 10K to repaint and fix the seats and rubber seals. Then it will be worth maybe 22K. I kind of always wanted one of these. I sold Toyotas when I was 27 and did very well at it because they essentially sold themselves, They are great products if you service them regularly they will last. I have 318K miles on a 97 T-100 and it will start right up.

  16. Phinias

    I owned a 1984 and wish I still had it. FJ-60’s are amazing vehicles. They run forever, the 4WD won’t quit, they’re comfortable, right sized, and appointed with eveything needed and nothing you don’t need. The ONLY drawback is they are thirsty by today’s standards. I never got better than 12 MPG even going downhill with a tailwind. For a modestly powered 6, that’s not very good. The only reason I sold mine however was because we bought an 18’ travel trailer, and the cruiser wasn’t rated to safely tow the weight. I’d love to have another. This one is priced about. 3k too high, but then if it’s truly rust free, that’s a big plus.

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