Advice on buying an 80 series

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Hi all,

So as I move to my new job in the Middle East, I’m starting to look to realise something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time - get an 80 series. I have a daily driver that keeps me happy, so this would literally be to go off-roading, dune bashing and reaching places that are otherwise hard to access.

I’m looking for a bit of advice on what to get. As it’s a “hobby” car, I can’t spend too much on it; but I’d like to get something I won’t regret having cheaped out on. Here are the observations I have gathered so far, hopefully get some thoughts on these.

- If i filter by 1995-1998 (airbags are a must, and OBD is preferred), there are only about 20 cars for sale.
- Most have 200-300K kms, some over 500.
- Most are either V6 petrols; there are no diesels I can see (and anyway, I can’t think of where I’ve seen diesel for sale where I am). Some are advertised as V8, but that can’t be right, can it? I don’t think the 80 ever had a V8? (I doubt anyone swapped them in here)
- I’m thinking I want the VXR and not the GXR? In which case I’m down to 8 cars.
- I think I know how to tell the locking differential model (on the left side of the dash, where the mirror adjustment is, I’m looking for a switch you can turn) - only some cars have that so probably even less than 8. Is there a separate option for center diff, or was that standard across all?
- prices are basically all over the place - from $6K to $30K.

Overall - am I crazy looking for a car that likely has over 300K and has likely been dune bashing all its life by non caring locals, or is it more of a “it has survived this long, now it will outlive you” mentality? If I’m crazy, then should I be looking at the 100 or something? Those can be had with lower mileage, but I don’t like them as much.

Thanks for any thoughts on this!
 
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Just a heads up, 1995 does not necessarily mean airbags, it only does for the USDM market. My JDM 95 has no airbags. Gulf-spec trucks may or may not be the same. GCC 80's are, AFAIK, all FZJ80R/L models with the 4.5L gas six. They may import diesels and other versions from elsewhere.

In general GCC trucks are pretty different. I wouldn't rule out the 100 series, I believe they have the 105 over there but others will know for sure.

There's an instagram, vxr_1990_to_1997 that posts a lot of pics of these 80's.
 
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I’ll check out the Insta. I mean if I expand to the 100, there are literally hundreds of options available - with varying mileage and so on, but isn’t it, relatively speaking, a worse off-roader? Plus there’s that weird new electronic suspension. Or does the logic go that if it survived to now then it’ll likely be fine?
 
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I’ll check out the Insta. I mean if I expand to the 100, there are literally hundreds of options available - with varying mileage and so on, but isn’t it, relatively speaking, a worse off-roader? Plus there’s that weird new electronic suspension. Or does the logic go that if it survived to now then it’ll likely be fine?
The standard 100 is technically "worse" yes, the 105 no. My 95 80 has an electronic normal/sport mode for the suspension, 300,000km and 26 years later it still works 🤷‍♂️ but my understand is that the 100's use airbag susp...

Actually it looks like both the HZJ105 and gas 105 were sold in the M.E. The HZJ is pretty anemic. They did get the HDJ100 with the 1HD-FTE, to me the holy grail of Toyota engines, but it is IFS and you'd probably want to get some aftermarket arms if you'll be hitting the bump stops on the dunes.
 
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...airbags are a must...
If it's that important to you, don't buy a 25 year old vehicle. First of all, collision tech has come a very long way since then. Second, there's no guarantee the airbag will work properly after 25+ years.
 
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Have you read about the Takata airbag recall? A lady died because her airbag launched a piece of metal into her neck. I have no idea if it has any bearing on 80 series airbags, but I'd rather have no airbag than a 25 year old one. You don't know if it's going to go off when needed, and even if it does you don't know if corrosion has resulted in loose shrapnel inside.

If passenger safety is your concern, a 90s vehicle should *not* be on your shopping list. Even if you're lucky and the airbag goes off, you're only helped in a front-end collision. No side or curtain airbags. Also, have you seen what 80s look like after a rollover?

Incidentally, the gasoline engines are I6, not V6.

I'd suggest looking for a turbo diesel for the cool factor. Or whatever engine and plan a V8 swap. A Toyota V8 and A750F transmission would be really nice... It sounds like labor is cheap over there, so you might as well dream big with the swaps and mods.

Locking center differential (transfer case) was on all 80s, to my knowledge. I would completely ignore axle lockers. You can get aftermarket lockers easily and they're definitely not worth the US-market markup.
 
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Ok, so the point on airbags is very fair. I guess on top of that, you probably don’t want them accidentally deploying if you bounce off a sand dune, so it’s probably better to disable them even if the car has them.

For context, I’m not worried about “old” crash technology btw - back home I have a ‘98 Delica Space Gear, so I’m happy with what it does and doesn’t do.

So then the question comes to, I guess, what options am I looking for that can easily be identified from dashboard pics? Did the 80s have optional, or standard, sub-gas tanks?

Regarding axle lockers - I’m not sure I’m going to bother adding aftermarket ones, and rather than them carrying a premium here, I think it’s more like “most” cars would have them (considering they are all bought for sand driving) and I just want to filter out the ones that don’t. So is it correct to look at the small panel to the left of the steering wheel? What buttons am I looking for in the (usually) grainy shots?
 
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So is it correct to look at the small panel to the left of the steering wheel?

Well, I don't have any lockers, but I have the locker switch right there to the left of my steering wheel. Why? Because I plan to add them at some point and wanted a new, factory switch before they go out of production. The dash is an ideal place to store the switch so that I don't misplace it.

People have been suckered before. Go read the thread about advice for buyers.
 

Ozark Bushwalker

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Ok, so the point on airbags is very fair. I guess on top of that, you probably don’t want them accidentally deploying if you bounce off a sand dune, so it’s probably better to disable them even if the car has them.

For context, I’m not worried about “old” crash technology btw - back home I have a ‘98 Delica Space Gear, so I’m happy with what it does and doesn’t do.

So then the question comes to, I guess, what options am I looking for that can easily be identified from dashboard pics? Did the 80s have optional, or standard, sub-gas tanks?

Regarding axle lockers - I’m not sure I’m going to bother adding aftermarket ones, and rather than them carrying a premium here, I think it’s more like “most” cars would have them (considering they are all bought for sand driving) and I just want to filter out the ones that don’t. So is it correct to look at the small panel to the left of the steering wheel? What buttons am I looking for in the (usually) grainy shots?
The 80 series has tons of options in different markets, @WarDamnEagle and @John Young might have some insights on GCC spec LCs
 

John Young

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Hi 100. You have not mentioned what country you are in. I have a little experience in Oman, Bahrain and the UAE. The car markets are quite different.

Your location says Canada so maybe the most important factor is that you can bring back a truck 15 years or older. That gives you a lot more options. Assuming you will be here for a couple of years, it means you can consider 2010 or earlier.

You have not mentioned 70 series cruisers. They are not as comfortable. Yesterday I drove a diesel 105 for the first time after daily driving a diesel 80 for the past few months and occasionally driving a troopy. For me at least, the comfort level goes 70, 80, 105 and finally 100. The 105 is remarkably close to a regular 100; you mostly notice the difference when you go over a traffic bump. If you want a real rocky desert crawler then I'd suggest a 70 series. Sand, probably 80 or 100 series.

The one real bit of insight I can offer is that don't assume that cars for sale will be posted online. And it will take a you a long time to figure out how to find non-posted trucks for sale in your local market.

If I were you I would find a nice 1FE 100 and use it. The parts are relatively easy to find and it will give you a way to learn which parts suppliers to use and which repair shops to trust, and the means to make some friends who may know about trucks for sale that are not posted. You could think of the 100 as a 'trainer' to help you learn the market while looking for what you really want. And I'd suggest a manual 100.

Good luck!
 

Devils Paw 80

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Have you read about the Takata airbag recall? A lady died because her airbag launched a piece of metal into her neck. I have no idea if it has any bearing on 80 series airbags,...
It doesn’t. The recall was for 2002 model year and later.
 
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It doesn’t. The recall was for 2002 model year and later.
Because the 80 airbags aren't a problem, or because they are exempt from assessment or recalls due to age?
 

WarDamnEagle

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As @John Young asked, what country are you in? I haven’t seen any diesel 80s in KSA or any 105 models. I would look for a 96 or 97 80 series with manual transmission. Lockers are less common here than I thought but I would want them. One other consideration, the 80s here are not fuel injected, they have carburetors. I have the same engine in my 1994 FZJ75 and so far the carb has not been an issue so I wouldn’t let that stop me.

Otherwise it’s all about kilometers and condition. You can find some very nice examples but you will pay $25k+.
 
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I’m located in Qatar. I have a suspicion the cars here a little less abused than the KSA ones, but I may be going purely on conjecture.

I’ve started looking at 105s as well but it’s a whole can of worms because there are SO many, it’s impossible to figure out which ones have been bush-repaired and which ones have led an OK life …
 

John Young

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I’m located in Qatar. I have a suspicion the cars here a little less abused than the KSA ones, but I may be going purely on conjecture.

I’ve started looking at 105s as well but it’s a whole can of worms because there are SO many, it’s impossible to figure out which ones have been bush-repaired and which ones have led an OK life …
Psst! I think you meant '100s' not '105s'
 
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John Young

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I bet he didn't. Unless you're saying there aren't very many to choose from.
In 10 years in Dubai I've seen exactly four 105's. Two were clapped out pieces of junk I was told had been imported from Somalia. The other two were on auction, ex government. I bought one of those two. The other one on auction was a bit messed up.

I guess I should admit that just like sexing chicks you have look under them. I may have passed by many 105's. I don't think so just based on how few I see for sale.
 
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cruiserdan

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Have you read about the Takata airbag recall? A lady died because her airbag launched a piece of metal into her neck. I have no idea if it has any bearing on 80 series airbags, but I'd rather have no airbag than a 25 year old one. You don't know if it's going to go off when needed, and even if it does you don't know if corrosion has resulted in loose shrapnel inside.

As a point of interest, 80 Series Land Cruisers were not involved in that recall.
 

Ozark Bushwalker

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I wonder if there's ever been a case of an airbag randomly going off, or failing to activate in a 95-97?

Mine has the airbag light on which I understand is a common electrical issue
 

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