Long-term, which 70-series do I want?

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Hi folks,

Sometime within the next 5 years or so, I'm looking to buy (import) an LC70. I've drunk the Land Cruiser koolaid and I've been lurking various forums for ~6 months, but I still feel like I don't know much about the specific vehicles I'm most interested in, so I figured I'd make a thread and hopefully get some advice from LC veterans. Quick info - I'm in my early 20s, live in the US (East Coast), no rush or need for a vehicle for the next ~2 years at least.

Why I want an LC 70:
  • Reliability - I'm not a 100% buy-it-for-life person, but I want a straightforward vehicle that will last a very long time
  • History - LCs do almost anything, and I'll shamelessly admit that I'm very interested in the story behind the products I buy
  • "Forbidden Fruit" - Kinda in line with the history point, it's a lot more interesting (to me) to import a vehicle that's somewhat uncommon; also, I spent most of my life outside the US, sometimes in countries where LCs are a big deal (although I didn't know it at the time)
  • Styling - I like straight lines on cars and most of the other LCs have too many curves, regardless the 70 series is the coolest looking LC to me by far
What I most want in an LC 70:
  • Left hand drive - This is the #1 most important feature for me, I know there are plenty of JDM/Aus LC 70s in the US, but since LHD models are available, I'm not interested in RHD
  • Some safety features - I don't want to feel like I'm in a death trap (I guess I'm saying here that I'd prefer newer model years? safer is better)
  • AC/Heating - Self explanatory
What I (probably) don't need in an LC 70:
  • Offroading features - I can't see myself doing lots of offroading in the future, I'm mainly interested in LCs for their reliability but their capabilities are a huge plus
  • Ute/Troopy configuration - I won't need to haul stuff in a flatbed regularly, and I don't think I'll be overlanding; avoiding the poultry tax if possible would be nice
  • A top-tier engine- Might be a controversial opinion, but one of my two realistic dream vehicles is an electric motor and battery-swapped LC 70
    • Yes, I know that EV retrofits aren't viable now, but I'm a firm believer that they will be in 10-15 years with some money/time/effort
    • Mainly, I'm mentioning this because I don't think I'll need a turbo/diesel (if I want to remove them in the future anyway, why pay extra now?)

So, given these wants, I feel like the best model is the 76. The 73/75 seem viable as well, but then again, I'm looking at the 70 series to help me do anything for half a lifetime, so if I go for the 73 and suddenly can't carry bulkier loads, I'm worried that I'll feel some remorse. I really like the look of the 77/78, but my brief search seems to only yield RHD models, unfortunately.

Main questions:
  • Are there any (major) considerations I'm missing?
  • Is there a recommended resource/database for model year differences and options for LC 70s? Since I'm in the US, the 25 year rule will apply, so specifically I'm looking for 1991-2001 info
Hope this train of thought made some sense, any advice is much appreciated!
 

WarDamnEagle

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I thought the 76 model didn't start until around 2007?? Not sure what you mean by safety features. None of the 70 series that will fall within the 25 year rule have air bags, or abs or any of that stuff to my knowledge.
 
Joined
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The most important thing is; being in your early 20s, what is your budget?

No set budget for now, but since I'll want to use the 70 for decades, I want a decently nice one without rust or other major issues (seems like the cheap Central American LCs are the sketchiest). Most importantly, there's a 0% chance I buy before 2023/24; I have money saved up now, and I'm assuming I'll have more saved up in a few years. Don't want to get ripped off, and don't want to overspend on features I won't need.

I thought the 76 model didn't start until around 2007?? Not sure what you mean by safety features. None of the 70 series that will fall within the 25 year rule have air bags, or abs or any of that stuff to my knowledge.

Thanks, that's super helpful, I guess I was too focused on the LHD in the 76s that I didn't pay close enough attention to the model years. Is there a chart/reference that tracks LC 70 model year history (i.e. in X year Y feature was added), or will I need to go through feature lists for specific vehicles and piece that information together myself?

No ABS kinda sucks, I did some quick searches on retrofitting but wasn't able to find anything for the 70 series, unfortunately. I was able to find an Australian kit that allows for 200 series steering wheels (with airbags) to be installed into LC 70s, definitely a mod I'd want to make shortly after receiving the vehicle.
 
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No set budget for now, but since I'll want to use the 70 for decades, I want a decently nice one without rust or other major issues (seems like the cheap Central American LCs are the sketchiest). Most importantly, there's a 0% chance I buy before 2023/24; I have money saved up now, and I'm assuming I'll have more saved up in a few years. Don't want to get ripped off, and don't want to overspend on features I won't need.

Prices can vary immensely on these things, mostly driven by what engine it has and overall condition.

Finding a turnkey LHD, heavy duty (non Prado), 77/76 that's not from Latin America, isn't completely hosed and doesn't cost a fortune, is going to be very tough. It'll probably become even more tough in the years to come for multiple reasons.
 
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Prices can vary immensely on these things, mostly driven by what engine it has and overall condition.

Finding a turnkey LHD, heavy duty (non Prado), 77/76 that's not from Latin America, isn't completely hosed and doesn't cost a fortune, is going to be very tough. It'll probably become even more tough in the years to come for multiple reasons.

Well, as it turns out, I completely missed the fact that the 76/77 aren't available with the exception of JDM vehicles until 2007, which would mean I'd have to import it in 2032. So, I think I'll need to settle with a 1999+ 73/74, which seem to be closer to the lower end of the price range anyway. Prados would be fine, but I haven't seen any LHD models in this time range (plus, didn't the Prado shift to the 80 series afterwards?), and any kind of conversion sounds like a nightmare.

Not fully opposed to Latin America, it just seems (based on various threads I've read online) that imports from EU seem to go smoother. I also have EU relatives, an EU bank account, and dual citizenship, so it might be possible to buy an LC 70 on a trip over. Also open to GCC region imports, but those seem to be the least common.

Other than increased US demand, would you be able to elaborate as to why you suspect the process will become more difficult in the future?
 
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You should study this site to understand the various models

Other than increased US demand, would you be able to elaborate as to why you suspect the process will become more difficult in the future?
Because Landcruisers in many places get worn out fast due to the conditions they work under and the older models are getting scarce now. They are becoming collectable like old corvettes etc. And if you did find a nice one, you would be taking a big hit in resale value by taking out the drivetrain and all the bits and pieces that go with it, to add batteries and electric motors. Do it to a Ford or Dodge.
 
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Other than increased US demand, would you be able to elaborate as to why you suspect the process will become more difficult in the future?

Increased demand worldwide, not just the US. As vehicles become more complex, the prices of older, simpler, better looking, SFA, ect... rigs will continue to rise. Look at 80 series prices.
 
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Sounds like you are looking for a hassle-free, as-good-as-new, secure, LHD LC7x Cruiser, which is 25 years old, in order to be importable?
Well, that's going to be a bit costy... .
And you are obviously totally undecided on what exact model you want, including the purpose you want it for. (The foreseen driving habits you describe rather call for a sedan than a LC). Your arguments for a LC apparently are "outstanding, cool look and feel", which actually are very valid arguments, though. (If not, I wouldn't have bought a 35yo BJ73 for a price close to a 5yo sedan).
Believe me, once you have one, you will enjoy the modes of use you can't imagine to do now. The end of any forestry road becomes a temptation ;) .
My 2 cents:
Use the time you have left to experience some variants of LC. There are huge differences. Inform your self on models and engines, like roscoFJ73 advised. Join events and visit trails and ask some Cruiserheads to take you for a ride. They for sure will.
Your quality needs can imho likely only be met when buying from a reputated professional that has restored vehicles available. Or one of the rare experienced Cruiserheads that sells a good vehicle. All you will find in ads, auctions or portals will require more or less work.
You may want to talk to some professionals in the US and maybe Europe. Over here e.g. Wiegman 4x4 Land Cruiser builder - https://www.wiegman4x4.com/ come to my mind (I have no relation to them).
Good luck. I know your situation very well. It took me 10 years to eventually pull the trigger on my BJ73. (And I wouldn't still have it, if I wouldn't have let go some requirements concerning "quality".)
 

WarDamnEagle

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It sounds like a Us 100 or 200 series would suit you better. You could put some jdm parts on it to make it look different. They have many safety features. You could also get a 4runner and put some surf parts on it as well.
Or an 80 given it at least has a straight front axle. My '97 80 has airbags and ABS, FWIW. It's also built like a tank but the ride is 10x better than my 79 series.
 

flx

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No ABS kinda sucks, I did some quick searches on retrofitting but wasn't able to find anything for the 70 series, unfortunately. I was able to find an Australian kit that allows for 200 series steering wheels (with airbags) to be installed into LC 70s, definitely a mod I'd want to make shortly after receiving the vehicle.
I don't think so, my bet is they propose to swap the plastic 70 steering wheel with the comfy leather one from a 200. But you will get the airbag only if your 70 already had them. Airbags need precisely calibrated and installed sensors, and a control unit.
If you think the absence of ABS suck I would advise trying to drive old trucks for some time before importing for a lot of money this kind of vehicle. They look cool but it does not drive at all like a modern car or SUV.

Prados would be fine, but I haven't seen any LHD models in this time range (plus, didn't the Prado shift to the 80 series afterwards?), and any kind of conversion sounds like a nightmare.

Not fully opposed to Latin America, it just seems (based on various threads I've read online) that imports from EU seem to go smoother. I also have EU relatives, an EU bank account, and dual citizenship, so it might be possible to buy an LC 70 on a trip over. Also open to GCC region imports, but those seem to be the least common.

Other than increased US demand, would you be able to elaborate as to why you suspect the process will become more difficult in the future?
There are tons of 3-doors 70 series Prado in Europe. 70 Prado was followed by the 90->120->150.

The biggest issue with EU will be rust, you will have to be very careful with which vehicle you buy. And also the best models (KZJ7*, HZJ7*) are becoming very expensive in Europe.
GCC have a lot of 70, there are some importers specialized in this region (at least to import in Europe). The biggest advantage of GCC is almost no rust but the default is often vehicles don't have a heater.
Also Europe you will only find Diesel and GCC only petrol.
 
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I am sorry but to included ABS and Airbags as part of the criteria in selecting a classic 70 series is just plain wrong. The lack of those is the reason why most on here love their 70 series. If those are your wants, then you will be highly disappointed about many other aspects about the 70 series. To get a good feel for what it would be like, go drive a fully loaded water truck on the freeway, with at least 10 infants next to you crying, must be 10, any less will not be representative. All while throwing 100 dollar bills out the window. When someone looks over and yells "nice jeep" you can't flip them off because it takes two hands on the wheel to keep it going straight.

Man do I love driving my 70 series....
 
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You should study this site to understand the various models
Thanks for the site, super helpful!
You would be taking a big hit in resale value by taking out the drivetrain and all the bits and pieces that go with it, to add batteries and electric motors. Do it to a Ford or Dodge.
This is an even longer term goal, like something that I'm assuming would only even be feasible in the mid 2030s. Whatever happens, that's a decision I'll have to make 15 years out. People are already making EV FJ40s, which is super exciting to me.

It sounds like a Us 100 or 200 series would suit you better. You could put some jdm parts on it to make it look different. They have many safety features. You could also get a 4runner and put some surf parts on it as well.
Or an 80 given it at least has a straight front axle.
I'd been passively reading up on LCs for a few weeks, mostly about US LC 80s and 100s, the 70 series flew under my radar until I saw some pictures. I was immediately struck, kind of got this "Yep, this is the one" feeling. The rational move would be an 80, but I want a 70.

I don't think so, my bet is they propose to swap the plastic 70 steering wheel with the comfy leather one from a 200. But you will get the airbag only if your 70 already had them. Airbags need precisely calibrated and installed sensors, and a control unit.
If you think the absence of ABS suck I would advise trying to drive old trucks for some time before importing for a lot of money this kind of vehicle. They look cool but it does not drive at all like a modern car or SUV.
I am sorry but to included ABS and Airbags as part of the criteria in selecting a classic 70 series is just plain wrong. The lack of those is the reason why most on here love their 70 series. If those are your wants, then you will be highly disappointed about many other aspects about the 70 series. To get a good feel for what it would be like, go drive a fully loaded water truck on the freeway, with at least 10 infants next to you crying, must be 10, any less will not be representative. All while throwing 100 dollar bills out the window. When someone looks over and yells "nice jeep" you can't flip them off because it takes two hands on the wheel to keep it going straight.

Man do I love driving my 70 series....
Have to admit that I don't have a lot of driving experience at the moment. I still need to learn how to drive a manual, and I'll definitely find a way to drive a 70 series afterwards (again, I'm years away from any potential purchase, so I hope I'm not completely crazy).

On the security features, I'm somewhat spooked because I've seen some US LC 60 owners say things like "I love my LC, and never want to get rid of it, BUT it's a death trap". I know it'll still be a hurdle to get over if I do end up purchasing a LC 70, which is why I asked about improved security mods in the first place.

Also, just want to thank everyone for being super nice and friendly, I know that my idea is pretty dumb, and I don't really know what I'm talking about at all, but I've learned so much from this thread already. Hope to post pics of my LC here, imported 70 series or not, one day.
 
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I wouldn't discount a 77/78 Prado (light duty) model. Admittedly the engine options aren't spectacular, especially the 2L-TE, but the 1KZ-T is a pretty decent power plant from all reports. From what I understand of your expected uses there is no benefit to the beefier axles and suspension in a heavy duty 70, and the ride quality of the coil sprung Prado will be much nicer to live with on a daily basis. Granted, there are no 'modern' safety features, and one's driving style definitely has to be adjusted to suit the vehicle, but I really can't complain about the on road handling and braking of my Prado. The KZJ77 was available with LHD in South America and some European markets I believe, as evidenced by this example: SOLD - $29,900 Oregon - 1994 KZJ77 Factory 1KZT 3.0 Turbo Diesel Left Hand Drive - 5 Speed - Locked - 2 Owner -108K Miles - https://forum.ih8mud.com/threads/29-900-oregon-1994-kzj77-factory-1kzt-3-0-turbo-diesel-left-hand-drive-5-speed-locked-2-owner-108k-miles.1254353/

I find that the 77/78 size is perfect for an all-rounder. The addition of the rear doors gives it an edge in practicality over a 73 or 74, and with the rear seats folded up it has a lot more cargo space too. In addition, the longer wheelbase makes for a more comfortable ride.

I can totally understand the desire for a 70-series over other, newer LandCruisers. I briefly had a fully specced HDJ81 and still consider the 80-series to be the best combination of modern-ish daily driver and extremely capable off roader, but I'm just drawn to the 70's in a different way.
 

GTSSportCoupe

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I wouldn't discount a 77/78 Prado (light duty) model. Admittedly the engine options aren't spectacular, especially the 2L-TE, but the 1KZ-T is a pretty decent power plant from all reports. From what I understand of your expected uses there is no benefit to the beefier axles and suspension in a heavy duty 70, and the ride quality of the coil sprung Prado will be much nicer to live with on a daily basis. Granted, there are no 'modern' safety features, and one's driving style definitely has to be adjusted to suit the vehicle, but I really can't complain about the on road handling and braking of my Prado. The KZJ77 was available with LHD in South America and some European markets I believe, as evidenced by this example: SOLD - $29,900 Oregon - 1994 KZJ77 Factory 1KZT 3.0 Turbo Diesel Left Hand Drive - 5 Speed - Locked - 2 Owner -108K Miles - https://forum.ih8mud.com/threads/29-900-oregon-1994-kzj77-factory-1kzt-3-0-turbo-diesel-left-hand-drive-5-speed-locked-2-owner-108k-miles.1254353/

I find that the 77/78 size is perfect for an all-rounder. The addition of the rear doors gives it an edge in practicality over a 73 or 74, and with the rear seats folded up it has a lot more cargo space too. In addition, the longer wheelbase makes for a more comfortable ride.

I can totally understand the desire for a 70-series over other, newer LandCruisers. I briefly had a fully specced HDJ81 and still consider the 80-series to be the best combination of modern-ish daily driver and extremely capable off roader, but I'm just drawn to the 70's in a different way.

I agree 100% with what AirheadNut posted here.

And remember, the problem with 2LTE and 1KZTE is they are turbo IDI (indirect injection) diesels. Putting a turbo on most of the heavy duty normally aspirated IDI motors will lead to the same overheating problems (which is why Toyota only put turbos on the DI (direct injection) heavy duty motors). Fundamentally it's an IDI technology problem. I'd suggest the 1KZTE is probably the best IDI turbo Toyota made. Sure you may have to replace the cylinder head at some point, but they're good for 200,000km plus as long as the vehicle is maintained. For most that will be many years of driving.
 

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