Is an 80 Series still a viable/cost-effective option on a reasonable budget vs. IFS trucks?

SaturnAscends

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It seems like there's been a prevailing sentiment on the forum lately that owning an 80 Series Land Cruiser is getting to be more trouble than it's worth as these vehicles age more and more and parts become harder to source. Indeed, the 1FZ is a very expensive engine to rebuild for what is essentially a dead-simple tractor motor.; and the same could be said for most of the rest of the vehicle as well.

This was part of the reason I ended up switching back to a mini-truck in the form of a 96 Tacoma. However, I've come to miss the robust drivetrain, solid axles, corrosion resistance, and interior space of the Land Cruiser. Even so, the gloomy tone of some of the replies to prospective J80 owners on here does give me pause.

Some posts make it sound like anything less than a painstaking nuts-and-bolts restoration will not suffice. However, these are also designed to be simple and durable machines to be operated in harsh conditions with minimal maintenance (especially the NA diesel models). After all, they aren't some high-stung supercar, and there's only so many things that could leave you stranded if you keep fluids in it. They are getting older, sure, but you still see Mercedes wagons and old Ford and Chevy Pickups from the 80s and 70s driving around here that appear to be unrestored.

I suppose I'm trying to better understand this disconnect, (real or perceived) between the J80's simple and robust construction and its high costs to keep on the road. I understand it was expensive when new, but so was the W124 Mercedes, and they are renowned for their ease of maintenance and durability, even when used as bush taxis in remote Africa.

In any case, if these old axle Land Cruisers are getting too onerous to keep on the road, what is the best alternative that has the same overbuilt robustness and rough-road capability? A GX470, perhaps? Is that solid front axle really worth the extra hassle of owning an older vehicle these days?
 

COYS

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No offense and all due respect to you, but these existential, philosophical ownership threads are a waste of time imho.

I was putting mud terrains on the GX 12 years ago well before the overlanding hype, but I was much younger and naive to the Toyota LC pecking order then.

Now that I’ve tasted the 80 nectar, there’s no going back. We aren’t saving lives or putting food on the table by owning this beast. We are likely though making memories and to all this is a very personal thing. Love is irrational.

If you can swing the cost of ownership, there’s not much better you can do in Toyota world let alone the 4x4 universe at large.

Hope you figure it out soon that which makes you happiest, friend.

👊🏼
 
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You'll get a bunch of opinions with a question like that (been discussed in the past, a lot), but here's some quick observations:

The cost of ownership is too much if you have to pay someone to work on it versus what some people might think is a pain in the arse if you do all the work yourself.

Most people who pick up an 80 series, all of which are now 25+ years old, spend at least a few thousand to bring them back into reliable working order.

Some of us with LC OCD spend more to bring them (or some systems/components) back to factory new condition.

And then add the poor gas mileage.

Some people who own both a FZJ80 for example and a 100 series say the 100 series (or LX470) is better for long trips with the family, more comfortable, and more power with less strain.

As mentioned above, once you've owned an 80 series you might not want to drive anything else.

They are getting older (obviously) so more components begin to fail and parts are being discontinued by Toyota,. At some point that will become an issue.

So it's kinda like if you ask the question then 80 ownership may not be for you.
 
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Personally, I like driving something that is becoming a bit rare. Anyone can buy a newer vehicle but keeping an older vehicle going (100% acknowledgement that the 80 series reliability makes this easier) is something unique in today’s throwaway culture. Mine isn’t perfect and it needs a bit more care with each passing year. BUT… for me it is worth it.
 
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It's absolutely viable. I LOVE it when people tell me they love my 4Runner or my Land Rover!

It's paid for.

Working on mechanical things is my therapy.

I like old stuff better than new stuff.

I don't let other people work on my stuff. (except body work and automatic transmissions)

If you're asking these questions if it's viable, then NO! It's not viable for YOU.

Stop right now. You've already sold your 80, so you're out of the club. Pick up your toys and go home.
 

garfieldthecat

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Also, can't this question be asked of any Land Cruiser? Toyota probably thought Land Cruisers were no longer economically viable, that's why they stopped making them for the U.S. There's an interesting rant on YouTube from a guy who remarks about throw away culture in the U.S.and the view that vehicles are now appliances to many people. Surely some people see a Land Cruiser as just another SUV (probably more so for 80, 100, and 200 series), but it's also very rewarding to keep older vehicles in good condition for personal use.
 

mudgudgeon

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It seems like there's been a prevailing sentiment on the forum lately that owning an 80 Series Land Cruiser is getting to be more trouble than it's worth
Honestly, if that's your perception, then maybe an 80 ain't for you :flipoff2:


I see a lot of threads were a newb posts about some POS they've been looking at with rose coloured glasses because they've just become infatuated with 80s, or overloading

But any POS vehicle while wearing rose coloured glasses is likely to lead to remorse.

I think a lot of threads you're seeing as negative are simply trying to help the overly optimistic or the unaware go into purchasing with eyes wide open.

How many threads do you see asking "it's this too much rust?" or possible purchasing a "bargain barn find" that say under a tree with windows down for the last 12 years, and had a swamp in the interior.

The reality is, they are all 25 years old or older. Unless you buy one that has had a full resto, then there's wear parts that are 25+ years old.

Parts fail, some slowly in ways that erode the minty fresh tight as a drum feel of a new cruiser.
Things like rubber bushes, or slip yolks, or pinion bearings, drive flanges, shocks, steering joints etc.
Then there's things that fail catastrophically, seemingly without warning, such as fusible links, starters, alternators, head gasket

They are robust and overbuilt, built to high standards etc
However, neglect then, and at some point in time, neglect will bite you on the ass. With a 25 year old vehicle, the odds are someone had neglected maintenance on something.

If you found a "cheap" cruiser, chances are it's gonna be cheap for reasons, and you'll have your hand in your pocket to bring it back closer to my fresh.
Unless you really get lucky.
Or, unless you have low expectations and are happy to drive a shít box.

I'm happy to drive a shít box work hack. The depreciation in value from new came out of someone else's pocket.
Now it's disposable. I can use and abuse, and if it truly takes a dump, I've got my money's with out if it.
I suspect that's not why you're interested in another cruiser.
 

SNLC

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They are not overly expensive to maintain if you do the work yourself and use cheap aftermarket parts. As well as just fixing it when it breaks.

All my vehicles in the last 20yrs have been expensive because I made them expensive. For example I wasn’t happy with a fairly stock 2004 Taco so I supercharged it, ran 16psi and a whole bunch of other things. That made it expensive to build and more expensive than stock to maintain. My current 80 has been expensive because I bought it with a blown engine. Rather than fix that or just get a used running engine I built a brand new engine. My choices have made it expensive, I justify my choices in a variety of ways.

When it comes to my shop, we stand behind our work and warranty things as well. So we do not want to install cheap parts. Older Cruisers come in and OEM parts are not available then there is no choice but to not use OEM.

Also in my opinion OEM parts are not ALL expensive, some parts are for sure. A new MAF or seat motors from Toyota are very expensive but things like oil filters and spark plugs are cheap.

As far as purchase price, ya way higher than they we 10yrs ago. As recently as 2018 I was able to buy a good 80 for cheap but those days seem gone now. Cheap was $4200 while now you are hard pressed to find them for $7-12k. Those of us who have been in the game awhile know we used to buy good clean 80’s all the time for $5-10k. Back in 2005 I knew somebody (original owner) who sold a 97 with lockers, always garaged and 80,000 miles for $12k. Good luck finding those deals these days.

Cheers
 

Bludozer

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They are not overly expensive to maintain if you do the work yourself and use cheap aftermarket parts. As well as just fixing it when it breaks.

All my vehicles in the last 20yrs have been expensive because I made them expensive. For example I wasn’t happy with a fairly stock 2004 Taco so I supercharged it, ran 16psi and a whole bunch of other things. That made it expensive to build and more expensive than stock to maintain. My current 80 has been expensive because I bought it with a blown engine. Rather than fix that or just get a used running engine I built a brand new engine. My choices have made it expensive, I justify my choices in a variety of ways.

When it comes to my shop, we stand behind our work and warranty things as well. So we do not want to install cheap parts. Older Cruisers come in and OEM parts are not available then there is no choice but to not use OEM.

Also in my opinion OEM parts are not ALL expensive, some parts are for sure. A new MAF or seat motors from Toyota are very expensive but things like oil filters and spark plugs are cheap.

As far as purchase price, ya way higher than they we 10yrs ago. As recently as 2018 I was able to buy a good 80 for cheap but those days seem gone now. Cheap was $4200 while now you are hard pressed to find them for $7-12k. Those of us who have been in the game awhile know we used to buy good clean 80’s all the time for $5-10k. Back in 2005 I knew somebody (original owner) who sold a 97 with lockers, always garaged and 80,000 miles for $12k. Good luck finding those deals these days.

Cheers
Worth pointing out though too that everything is expensive nowadays. That $12k in 2005 is around $19k in todays money. 80k miles would have been around the norm for an 8 year vehicle at the time as well - not super rare like today 17 years later.

It has definitely gotten more expensive to buy/own an 80 today, but there are a variety of reasons why, and the gap is not quite as wide as many claim as well once all factors are accounted for.
 

NeverFinis

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To me, the 80 (or in my case LX450), is just a tool. The tool's purpose is to travel to remote places. Tools aren't meant to look pristine and remain perfect. They are meant to be worked. If one thinks this way, an 80 is very viable.

A while back, I was weighing between buying new Ford Tremor or resuscitating my LX450. See this thread

My current LX450 build thread

Why a LX450? Because I possessed it.

It could have been an old Suburban or Excursion. I am brand agnostic.

At the end, it was a financial decision for me, rather than one manufacturer over another. I could put $30K into the LX450, or $75K into a new Tremor. If I sold either, I would probably lose less money on the LX450....

When I am done, I am hoping the LX450 is just as reliable as anything one can buy new. I am replacing the drivetrain with a 2020 L96/6L90e. I am far from a fan of the 1FZ-FE. That motor had to go.

I am guessing I am >$15K in and the LX450 is still not drivable... 😉 but that is still a ton less than a brand new Tremor. Plus, doing the work myself saves cash, and it allows me to know everything about the rebuild incase something does go wrong and I am in a very remote place.
 

SaturnAscends

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Stop right now. You've already sold your 80, so you're out of the club. Pick up your toys and go home.
Just because I got rid of my 97 doesn't mean I'll never have another one when better positioned to do so financially.
I'm happy to drive a shít box work hack. The depreciation in value from new came out of someone else's pocket.
Now it's disposable. I can use and abuse, and if it truly takes a dump, I've got my money's with out if it.
I suspect that's not why you're interested in another cruiser.
I'm used to sh!tboxes, but even a ragged out 80 series will go for close to 10k these days, so it seems more cost-effective to pay a bit more to get a bit nicer one. Maybe 20-30 grand is the ideal price point for a more spruced up example.
No offense and all due respect to you, but these existential, philosophical ownership threads are a waste of time imho.
I wasn't trying to ask a "why do you love your 80 series" type question, but I guess in retrospect this thread might be a bit redundant and vague. I suppose a more pointed and practical question would be whether the solid front axle and beefy frame etc. actually equate to greater rough-road performance and durability vs. some of the newer IFS offerings like a GX470.
Worth pointing out though too that everything is expensive nowadays. That $12k in 2005 is around $19k in todays money. 80k miles would have been around the norm for an 8 year vehicle at the time as well - not super rare like today 17 years later.
Overall I'd say the FZJ80 has definitely lost some of its value for money. Part of the beauty of these trucks was that they were cheap back in the Obama era, and hence were a boon to the off-road community. It's still nowhere near the absurd level of the JZA80 Supra though.
 
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as these vehicles age more and more and parts become harder to source.
Parts from Toyota are going out of production, but we're barely getting started! There are still tons of aftermarket parts suppliers out there that we can churn though and bitch about. Look at how aftermarket-dependent the forums for the earlier models are, for a glimpse into the future.

I plan to keep my 80 indefinitely. It will probably end up really far from stock, likely with a GM V8 + trans swap, and maybe even a hybrid or all-electric conversion in the distant future. It may end up garaged and only used as a weekend trip rig, but it'll still be around. It won't be a museum piece.

As rigs like the electric F150 and the Rivian become more common, you'll probably see the popularity of the 80 series wane. This will be good, because then you can buy up parts trucks and fill your yard with them like Mr. Miyagi.
 

SaturnAscends

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You'll get a bunch of opinions with a question like that (been discussed in the past, a lot), but here's some quick observations:

The cost of ownership is too much if you have to pay someone to work on it versus what some people might think is a pain in the arse if you do all the work yourself.

Most people who pick up an 80 series, all of which are now 25+ years old, spend at least a few thousand to bring them back into reliable working order.

Some of us with LC OCD spend more to bring them (or some systems/components) back to factory new condition.

And then add the poor gas mileage.

Some people who own both a FZJ80 for example and a 100 series say the 100 series (or LX470) is better for long trips with the family, more comfortable, and more power with less strain.

As mentioned above, once you've owned an 80 series you might not want to drive anything else.

They are getting older (obviously) so more components begin to fail and parts are being discontinued by Toyota,. At some point that will become an issue.

So it's kinda like if you ask the question then 80 ownership may not be for you.
My 97 was a bit rough cosmetically and had some leaks here and there, but the running costs didn't seem that unreasonable for that it is. I might've kept it were it not for my meager TA salary at the time which incidentally is about to change.
 

mudgudgeon

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I suppose a more pointed and practical question would be whether the solid front axle and beefy frame etc. actually equate to greater rough-road performance and durability vs. some of the newer IFS offerings like a GX470.

Yes.

But, everything is a compromise.

IFS cruisers, GX/ Prado and many others have been everywhere that a solid axle cruiser would go in an overlanding sense.
If you're talking rock crawling, then solid axle is tougher straight out of the box.
 

SaturnAscends

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Parts from Toyota are going out of production, but we're barely getting started! There are still tons of aftermarket parts suppliers out there that we can churn though and bitch about. Look at how aftermarket-dependent the forums for the earlier models are, for a glimpse into the future.

I plan to keep my 80 indefinitely. It will probably end up really far from stock, likely with a GM V8 + trans swap, and maybe even a hybrid or all-electric conversion in the distant future. It may end up garaged and only used as a weekend trip rig, but it'll still be around. It won't be a museum piece.

As rigs like the electric F150 and the Rivian become more common, you'll probably see the popularity of the 80 series wane. This will be good, because then you can buy up parts trucks and fill your yard with them like Mr. Miyagi.
Yeah these are ubiquitous in places like the GCC and parts of South America so I think there will be a pipeline for most essential parts for quite some time, but I could be wrong. The powertrains will become more and more of a relic as BEV/PHEV/FCEV tech improves, but the durability of the drivetrain should give it staying power.
 
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I have a 97lx with approx 315k miles. I strictly take it to a highly respected indy shop for service and request only oem parts. I've owned everything from a 64 vette, DB9, 2000s wrangler, volvos and about 25 more cars in between(only sharing for the sake of a decent spread of comps). All my toys are gone and replaced with a wife, home, and child, but my wife encourages keeping the LX as it always runs when either of our late model dailys are down. This truck is the least trouble vehicle i have ever owned, period. They are older rigs, but they made tons of them compared to other collectibles. Buy a clean one, don't try to make it a showcar, and don't overthink it.
 

PNWTreeOctopus

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Such a weird thread. You came to a LC enthusiast’s forum to find out if a vehicle is viable? For a great many folks on here maintaing these 80 series is essentially a hobby so your question is difficult to answer in a meaningful way.

Viable? I can still buy parts. Many new from Toyota. Aftermarket support is incredible. My wit’s end QPM is amazing. Have you seen the @Delta VS center console and shift housing? How about all the bumpers from places like Slee and 4x4 labs?

nope you can’t find a triple locked 80 with under 100k for 6k. That 250k 3x is going to cost you a bunch today. It’s that much more desirable (no new LCs in production here, broverlanding is super hip, this forum has amazing people nodding g and building these right into every imaginable configuration for a variety of purposes) so the initial cost will go up.


Lots of folks here have had their rigs for over a decade (or 2). So is that a vote for viable? I guess?

Such a weird question. Maybe next time:
“Has the cost of owing an 80 increased in the last ten years?”
“Is the 80 a good investment?”
“I sold my 80 and I miss it, should I buy another one?: here’s what I’m driving and here’s what I want to do with my rig”

We all think it’s viable, otherwise we be on the tundra/Tacoma/bronco/yj/etc forum.
:deadhorse:
 

SaturnAscends

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Such a weird thread. You came to a LC enthusiast’s forum to find out if a vehicle is viable? For a great many folks on here maintaing these 80 series is essentially a hobby so your question is difficult to answer in a meaningful way.

Viable? I can still buy parts. Many new from Toyota. Aftermarket support is incredible. My wit’s end QPM is amazing. Have you seen the @Delta VS center console and shift housing? How about all the bumpers from places like Slee and 4x4 labs?

nope you can’t find a triple locked 80 with under 100k for 6k. That 250k 3x is going to cost you a bunch today. It’s that much more desirable (no new LCs in production here, broverlanding is super hip, this forum has amazing people nodding g and building these right into every imaginable configuration for a variety of purposes) so the initial cost will go up.


Lots of folks here have had their rigs for over a decade (or 2). So is that a vote for viable? I guess?

Such a weird question. Maybe next time:
“Has the cost of owing an 80 increased in the last ten years?”
“Is the 80 a good investment?”
“I sold my 80 and I miss it, should I buy another one?: here’s what I’m driving and here’s what I want to do with my rig”

We all think it’s viable, otherwise we be on the tundra/Tacoma/bronco/yj/etc forum.
:deadhorse:
I did word it kind of strangely, and I'm aware cost of ownership has been discussed ad nauseam. It's just that I'd seen various posts lately warning against buying one at their current prices and at their current age, which made me think the ship had sailed for those who don't have tons of money and who didn't get in cheap when the getting was good.

A better question might be: "is the 80 series still a viable option for someone on a fairly tight car budget ($<15k total), and/or are they still a cost-effective option for a DD/weekend warrior vs. 'cheaper' options like a 1G Tacoma or Gx470?"

I understand if you see it as kind of a superfluous thread, but this kind of quandary has been bothering me lately.
 

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