80 Series vs Contemporary Domestic Trucks

SaturnAscends

SILVER Star
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
1,028
Location
Northwest Arkansas
I've heard it said that the 80 Series Land Cruiser was arguably the most capable and durable touring platform ever brought to the US market. This is perhaps supported by it ubiquity in those parts of the world with little to no infrastructure. After all, you don't see many Dodge Ramchargers or Ford Broncos in Outback Australia or the Gobi Desert.

Is this seemingly global preference for Toyota trucks, especially Land Cruisers and Hiluxes, due to innately superior toughness and build quality that help it stand up to harsh conditions? Or is it due to some other factor like Toyota being the world's largest auto manufacturer and hence being able to afford mass production of vehicles intended for less developed countries?

Simply looking at it at face value, something like a square body Blazer with a 14-bolt rear axle and beefy frame would seem to be comparable to the 80 Series, but perhaps I'm missing some x-factor with the venerable Cruiser. any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.


1668565743281.png
1668565761405.png

1668565821664.png

1668565846575.png
 

ChaseTruck

--
SILVER Star
Joined
Apr 4, 2006
Messages
2,311

Simply looking at it at face value, something like a square body Blazer with a 14-bolt rear axle and beefy frame would seem to be comparable to the 80 Series…
I have one of these; got it 26 years ago. Takes a bunch of upgrades, such as axles - D60 for the front, 14b for the rear; lockers, of course. The stock front axle, even with upgrades, can be a real problem with 35s. The leaf spring boogie needs to be calmed down with a traction bar for the rear. The 80 is better in bringing the power to the ground. The K5 may not look that much bigger than the 80, but that perspective will change really quickly once it is in an obstacle. And it’s heavy. On a crawling trail, gas use is 1 gallon per hour. Mine has proven fairly durable and reliable - as in fly to PHX, get truck from storage, drive to Moab & ‘wheel for a week, come back, return it to storage, and fly back home, even in the old times with the carburetor. It generally can go to most places where 80s go - if it fits.
Mine does not have a transfer case doubler or a links & coils suspension - that’s where I drew the line; the really slippery slope starts there. Most folks I knew who went that route don’t have a K5 anymore. On mine, doors and windows seal, and the A/C still works. I’m mulling over letting it go in favor of a rock crawler, but then I hop in and it puts a smile on my face… I suppose it has earned itself an LS motor by now. We’ll see…
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 1, 2022
Messages
87
Location
Wisconsin, USA
There are a variety of factors at play, Toyota's reach and resources chief among them.

In my opinion, the design itself is a winning formular. Solid axles front/rear, fully boxed frame, coil springs in each corner, and disc brakes all around (at least, in later models). Just enough luxury without the frills. Almost entirely mechanical.

Some have said the 80 series was Toyota's finest hour, at least in respect to factory 4x4 vehicles - I'd agree.
 

mudgudgeon

Resident galah
SILVER Star
Joined
Dec 17, 2007
Messages
6,640
Location
Hanging on to the underside of the flerf
There's a bunch of reasons US trucks aren't seen in Australia.

Size is a definite factor. I've watched Broncos struggle to fit through tracks in the Aussie bush because of the extra width.

Another factor is left hand / right hand drive. If US based vehicles weren't being built for right hand markets elsewhere, we just didn't get them in Aus. Our automotive market is too small to support US manufacturers tooling up for such limited production runs off right hand drive vehicles. So many times there's be rumours of niche US vehicles coming to Australia, but for the most part it wasn't economically feasible

I believe there was no Mopar dealers or products available in Australia from late 70s, early 80s on.
Dodge trucks are available again, but through a third party importer who converts them to RHD

Another is build quality. Look at quality of fit and finish of a 90s Toyota vs anything Ford or GM produced in the same era. There's no comparison.

Just simple things like closing a door. Toyota doors close with pleasing thud. A Ford closes with a bang and a rattle.

Things like interior panels, dash layout, seats etc. External body work, compare gaps and fit between panels, fit of bumpers mirrors etc.

Then there's reliability. Toyota has a well deserved reputation generally. Lots of components on Landcruisers are overbuilt in comparison to other utility vehicles of a similar size.

By the time the 80 series was being designed, it was specifically being designed as a luxury vehicle, with maximum off-road capability.

Another factor, in the 90s, V8 engines weren't popular in Australia due to fuel price crisis in the past. V8s fell out of favour big time in Australia for a long time.
If you bought a V8, you were an irresponsible hoon. American cars were known as Yank Tanks and considered to be oversized and excessive.
V8s disappeared from Aussie built cars completely for a few years (can't remember what years).

Then, there was other good 4x4 options in Australia.
Nissan Patrol was another popular 4x4, on par with Landcruiser on most criteria.
Mitsubishi Pajero was a slightly smaller, cheaper option.
Holden Jackeroo is another smaller, cheaper option (rebadged Isuzu??)
Daihatsu also had 4x4s in the Aussie market.

There were a lot of trade tariffs in play with imported vehicles too
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2009
Messages
2,112
Location
Between pixels
It is simply the build quality and attention to detail. If you do any of your own work on your 80, you will quickly realize and appreciate the lengths they went to. For example, I recently removed the trio of fuel lines from under the floor. They were held together with qty 8 (IIRC) metal brackets with internal separate plastic “clips”, and another 3 or 4 more “plastic” spacers located in between the metal brackets. Even my front fender flare (LX) is attached with a myriad of metal and plastic clips, gasket, and foam tape. You just don’t see that on 99% of production vehicles. Closest vehicle to the Land Cruiser/LX would be the venerable G-Wagon IMHO.
 
Last edited:

ChaseTruck

--
SILVER Star
Joined
Apr 4, 2006
Messages
2,311
Speaking of size - looks ok here ...

JMS_7304_edit.jpg


But it was quite handful here...

JMS_4436_edit.jpg


much more so than the 80...

JMS_4408_edit.jpg


Level of build on the 80 is quite different. Don't know about Dodge or Ford, but the frame on the Chevys is C-shaped, and the steel on the 1/2-ton trucks is not very thick. I once bent the bottom of the C upwards when I took a (self-inflicted) hit. Bent it back with a 10" pipe wrench without trying very hard... It's a far cry from the boxed frame of the 80. As I already said, stock front axle is flimsy, broke it 3 times on 35s, despite everyone (especially my Cruiser friends...) saying I drive like grandma. Anyways, a frame-to-frame belly plate of 1/4" steel has solved the initial issue.

My Cruiser friends know what that truck can do, in some cases the width is to its advantage, other spots it's not. If I bring the truck to a Cruiser run, most folks that don't know it expect the K5 to break down 200 yards after air-down...

The driver's seat in the K5 is a Mastercraft Pro - which I consider far superior to the seats in our '93, '97, or the '04 GX470 (which is a very comfortable long distance vehicle). I think @richardlillard1 is a recent convert to the comfort of that seat. I have not been able to convince my wife that Mastercraft is the way to go. Instead, there's a set of new leathers & seat bottoms waiting to be installed in the '97.

It is somewhat funny - I like 'wheeling the '93, and it's much nicer on the highway. But for going on trails where things might be a bit more iffy, I hop in the K5. My wife is somewhat the same, she'll leave the '97 behind and take the FJ40. I suppose it's not that the 80 or the LX couldn't do these trails, it's more of a matter of accumulated seat time.
 
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Messages
241
Build quality is incompatible.
I regularly drive my 77 Bronco with unknown miles, 86 Bronco with 187,000 miles on and off road.
While wonderful nostalgic and truly fun trucks - they both feel and sound like a bucket of bolts traveling in loose formation compared with the 87 60 with 185,000 and 96 80 with 256,000. Frame rigidity, tolerances everywhere, door glass, panels, over time and miles the differences show up
 
Joined
Apr 14, 2016
Messages
2,364
Location
Oregon
Everything about the 80 series seems to be top-notch for its time. The engineering, design, and assembly, all the way down to the metallurgy. Looks at how well the frames hold up compared to the Toyota Tacoma recalled frames made by Dana, for example.

I had a '95 Grand Cherokee. The transmission needed to be rebuilt before 80k miles. The front differential ate itself on a freeway exit at around 120k miles. It chewed through motor mounts thanks to the V8. It ate ignition coils because they were located in a very hot spot in the engine compartment.

I read that in the 90s, GM engineered their vehicles to last 70k miles, because that was the length of an average lease. There was a known issue with the differential gasket on the rear end of the Caprice. It was missing a hole needed for lubrication. They didn't care, because they usually lasted to 70k miles, after which it was someone else's problem.

As for off-road prowess, what American vehicles were available from the factory with front and rear lockers? What, at the time, had full-time AWD combined with a viscous coupler in the transfer case?
 
Joined
Jul 26, 2020
Messages
694
Location
Juneau, Alaska
I read that in the 90s, GM engineered their vehicles to last 70k miles, because that was the length of an average lease. There was a known issue with the differential gasket on the rear end of the Caprice. It was missing a hole needed for lubrication. They didn't care, because they usually lasted to 70k miles, after which it was someone else's problem.
There's the old Henry Ford story about looking for the longest lasting parts on his cars & re-engineering them to cost less and have a shorter life. Planned obsolescence so you have to buy more... vs quality & longevity so you want to buy more. Kaizen, jidoka, ikigai, and all the Toyota bits - things I have respect for and am inspired by, and much of the reason why, as a "poor snowboard bum," I'm willing to dedicate more of my income to it.
 
Last edited:

COYS

SILVER Star
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
2,209
Location
Los Santos
Some background info on the actual Japan based Toyota factories including Toyota Auto Body…

I’m no expert, but it seems to be in their cultural dna to build cars that last.



I will never buy a Toyota not made in Japan, a BMW M or 911 not made in Germany. Sht like this matters to me as a car enthusiast that values quality, their most complete manifestation of pride in work.
 
Last edited:

Dave 2000

Not all Land Rovers are useless!
Joined
Jan 24, 2009
Messages
4,452
Location
Spain
Having been in the trade for so many years I have been fortunate to come across quite a considerable number of vehicles. From the offerings, I have purchased, used/raced and sold pretty much everything on UK roads, and that would include a Camaro and one or two other American imports, so no big deal right? Then along came a Land Rover Discovery, I stripped it and built it for serious off road and competition use, unfortunately the build quality was not there to start with, OE parts which were poor quality anyway, becoming NLA, and paying considerable amounts of money for upgrading this and that was like setting fire to wallet every week. To be fair it was reliable and tough but costly to get it there, and that is where the comments from an earlier post were made about the 80......you don't need to spend a shedload of wedge, it came from the factory pretty much prepared for whatever you throw at it.

That is the difference between an 80 and any other vehicle of that era, it does what it says on the can!

Regards

Dave
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
Messages
5,734
Location
Colorado
Fun discussion!

I think it's a little off base because the 80 was being rolled out as the era of full size, solid axle domestic trucks came to an end. K5 and RamCharger both discontinued in the early days of 80 production. the 90's bronco stuck around through the same timeframe, but was never available as a solid-axle truck after the late 70's. I think the more fair comparison would be domestics vs 60-series.

Some thoughts on the K5 blazer: you could not buy one with D60/14B axles, it has to be built. So if we're comparing apples to apples, we're talking about a D44 (8.5")/10b (8.2") semi-float blazer, which would be liable to break axles in tough scenarios.

I don't know as much about Ramchargers, but I believe they also came with a D44 front, but the rear axle could be optioned up to a 9.25.

Bronco has IFS (although it's a kind of cool design) also a D44 front and 9" rear.

By comparison, the FJ60 had 9.25" axles front and rear straight from the factory. The FJ60 is built with more beef than all 3 💪 But the Ramcharger or bronco would be roughly equivalent to an fzj80 in diff strength. None of the domestics came with locking differentials, so there's that, Not sure if any of them had a full-float option, I know the bronco and K5 did not.

In terms of drivetrain, 360 or 318 in the Ramcharger only put out high-100's HP, about 20 or so less than a 1fz-fe in a heavier package. The 5.7 available in the K5 was the worst generation GM V8 ever made. 6-cyl power output, 8cyl fuel consumption, unrefined. I had a TBI V8 in my fj62 and I'd barely consider it an upgrade over the 3FE. My 80 felt a little faster, and more refined by miles. Of the big domestics you mention, the Bronco is the only one with a real advantage in powertrain over an fzj80, IMO. All of them could whoop up on an FJ60 though!


That said, I'm sure the real reason toyota enjoyed worldwide renown and use in the bush of Africa, South America, Asia and Australia is because Toyota bothered to market and sell them there. :hillbilly:
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
508
Location
Sonora, CA
Engineering is the biggest reason, IMO. Tighter tolerances, but far superior product. The fact that these rigs need OEM parts, while annoying at times to spend the extra $ or order delay, shows the quality.

Another factor not mentioned is how serviceable Toyotas are, compared to American rigs. Virtually all parts on a Yota are rebuildable or serviceable, even in third world countries.
 

SaturnAscends

SILVER Star
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
1,028
Location
Northwest Arkansas
Part of what prompted me to think about this is seeing so many old Fords stand up to decades of farm use here in Arkansas and elsewhere, especially with the 300 ci inline 6; that is one incredibly tough engine. Same with 12v Cummins trucks with a manual transmission. In fact I was looking at a first gen Cummins the other day and it made my old 80 series seem light duty by comparison, especially with that mighty 5.9 turbodiesel. But that's not surprising since it was a 3500 and a much larger and heavier vehicle.

These are the kind of roles usually filled by 70 series Cruisers overseas, and it would be interesting to see a comparison of their durability in the same conditions. The only other vehicle I can think of that rivals a LC for durability and build quality would be a W123 Mercedes with the OM617, or possibly a G-wagon or Patrol as was mentioned above.
 

SaturnAscends

SILVER Star
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
1,028
Location
Northwest Arkansas
Fun discussion!

I think it's a little off base because the 80 was being rolled out as the era of full size, solid axle domestic trucks came to an end. K5 and RamCharger both discontinued in the early days of 80 production. the 90's bronco stuck around through the same timeframe, but was never available as a solid-axle truck after the late 70's. I think the more fair comparison would be domestics vs 60-series.

Some thoughts on the K5 blazer: you could not buy one with D60/14B axles, it has to be built. So if we're comparing apples to apples, we're talking about a D44 (8.5")/10b (8.2") semi-float blazer, which would be liable to break axles in tough scenarios.

I don't know as much about Ramchargers, but I believe they also came with a D44 front, but the rear axle could be optioned up to a 9.25.

Bronco has IFS (although it's a kind of cool design) also a D44 front and 9" rear.

By comparison, the FJ60 had 9.25" axles front and rear straight from the factory. The FJ60 is built with more beef than all 3 💪 But the Ramcharger or bronco would be roughly equivalent to an fzj80 in diff strength. None of the domestics came with locking differentials, so there's that, Not sure if any of them had a full-float option, I know the bronco and K5 did not.

In terms of drivetrain, 360 or 318 in the Ramcharger only put out high-100's HP, about 20 or so less than a 1fz-fe in a heavier package. The 5.7 available in the K5 was the worst generation GM V8 ever made. 6-cyl power output, 8cyl fuel consumption, unrefined. I had a TBI V8 in my fj62 and I'd barely consider it an upgrade over the 3FE. My 80 felt a little faster, and more refined by miles. Of the big domestics you mention, the Bronco is the only one with a real advantage in powertrain over an fzj80, IMO. All of them could whoop up on an FJ60 though!


That said, I'm sure the real reason toyota enjoyed worldwide renown and use in the bush of Africa, South America, Asia and Australia is because Toyota bothered to market and sell them there. :hillbilly:
Maybe a better comparison for the 80 series would be the Tahoe of the time. It is my understanding that the IFS leaves a lot to be desired on those rigs when it comes to roading, but otherwise they seem to hold up pretty well and are becoming somewhat desirable in their own right. I still wouldn't take one over a J80 though.
1668703144303.png
 

SaturnAscends

SILVER Star
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
1,028
Location
Northwest Arkansas
There's a bunch of reasons US trucks aren't seen in Australia.

Size is a definite factor. I've watched Broncos struggle to fit through tracks in the Aussie bush because of the extra width.

Another factor is left hand / right hand drive. If US based vehicles weren't being built for right hand markets elsewhere, we just didn't get them in Aus. Our automotive market is too small to support US manufacturers tooling up for such limited production runs off right hand drive vehicles. So many times there's be rumours of niche US vehicles coming to Australia, but for the most part it wasn't economically feasible

I believe there was no Mopar dealers or products available in Australia from late 70s, early 80s on.
Dodge trucks are available again, but through a third party importer who converts them to RHD

Another is build quality. Look at quality of fit and finish of a 90s Toyota vs anything Ford or GM produced in the same era. There's no comparison.

Just simple things like closing a door. Toyota doors close with pleasing thud. A Ford closes with a bang and a rattle.

Things like interior panels, dash layout, seats etc. External body work, compare gaps and fit between panels, fit of bumpers mirrors etc.

Then there's reliability. Toyota has a well deserved reputation generally. Lots of components on Landcruisers are overbuilt in comparison to other utility vehicles of a similar size.

By the time the 80 series was being designed, it was specifically being designed as a luxury vehicle, with maximum off-road capability.

Another factor, in the 90s, V8 engines weren't popular in Australia due to fuel price crisis in the past. V8s fell out of favour big time in Australia for a long time.
If you bought a V8, you were an irresponsible hoon. American cars were known as Yank Tanks and considered to be oversized and excessive.
V8s disappeared from Aussie built cars completely for a few years (can't remember what years).

Then, there was other good 4x4 options in Australia.
Nissan Patrol was another popular 4x4, on par with Landcruiser on most criteria.
Mitsubishi Pajero was a slightly smaller, cheaper option.
Holden Jackeroo is another smaller, cheaper option (rebadged Isuzu??)
Daihatsu also had 4x4s in the Aussie market.

There were a lot of trade tariffs in play with imported vehicles too
It seems like the GQ and GU Patrols have quite a dedicated following in Australia. AFAIK, the diffs and axles are stronger than an 80 series, but they're also a bit heavier.

I often wonder why they were never brought to the US. Maybe since the petrol engines were pretty lackluster and they wouldn't bring the diesels here for whatever reason like Toyota.
 

FJ40 that green thing

1996 KZJ78 Prado
Joined
Jul 8, 2004
Messages
279
Location
Wyoming
Toyota's and 80 series being more common for certain uses in other countries I would say has more to do with availability than anything. A consideration for overland travel would be availability of parts, mechanical knowledge, reliability, etc. so the Toyotas fit the bill well as they are common and widely used in other countries. They tend to be slightly smaller than the full size American suv's and trucks of that time as well. There is no doubt the solid axle platform and build quality of toyotas during this era was arguably the peak of Toyota's offroad vehicles. Toyotas are not flawless though, contrary to popular opinion on mud. The engines left alot to be desired, efficiency was atrocious for a 6 cyl. the interiors on these 80 series even on luxo models can age really badly. They rust the same or worse than most domestics, parts are becoming scarce and expensive. Domestic offroaders from a similar time frame had their issues too but yea, its not uncommon to see older ford or chevy vehicles with 2-300k+ miles on them and still running strong. In our part of the country you see 1980's and 90's domestic trucks still in use everyday for hard labor like snow plowing, fire wood trips, ranch trucks hauling hay, etc. and they hold up well also. I think Toyotas have some offroad heritage that people become enthusiasts for not unlike muscle car guys. Variety is nice. I love seeing old but impeccably cared for and used off roaders of all makes.
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
Messages
5,734
Location
Colorado
Maybe a better comparison for the 80 series would be the Tahoe of the time. It is my understanding that the IFS leaves a lot to be desired on those rigs when it comes to roading, but otherwise they seem to hold up pretty well and are becoming somewhat desirable in their own right. I still wouldn't take one over a J80 though.
View attachment 3170580

These still had the TBI 350 until like 1996 and still had a 10 bolt rear and torsion bars up front :-/

90's bronco was a good vehicle though.

Now if you're talking heavy duty trucks, Cummins Dodge and 7.3 (or 460, for that matter) Fords were built to last, IMO. But something of that size and weight would probably be considered a commercial truck in most of the world, not something normal people would own and get around in.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom