1978 Toyota BJ40 Land Cruiser

1978 Toyota BJ40 Land Cruiser


Status: Sold to Derrick T, Tulsa, OK
Manufactured: Japan
Imported: Tenerife, Spain
Engine: 3.0L Four-Cylinder “B” Diesel
Transmission: 4-Speed Manual

A few months back, we started hunting for trucks down in Tenerife for a couple reasons: We have a fairly large ongoing restoration taking place there, and a customer wanted something specific we could only find on the Spanish islands. The more we dug into it though, we quickly learned the Canary Islands have their own automotive culture, as unique and proud as the people who live on the islands themselves. The remote nature of the islands belies the diverse array of classic vehicles scattered in the region. We’ve seen beautiful rally-inspired Lancias, been lured in by the unique array of Land Rovers, and now fallen prey to the siren’s song of some vintage Toyota Land Cruisers. This is the first of two (very different) Cruisers we have heading our way from the islands.

This 1978 Toyota BJ40 Land Cruiser is the diesel variant of the iconic FJ40. Powered by Toyotas 3.0L “B” engine, the BJ40 makes about 85hp and around 140 lb-ft of torque. It comes to us from a mechanic-turned-friend, Ayoze. Back in 2016 he decided the BJ40 needed a breath of new life. The Land Cruiser was torn down. All the way down. Glass out, engine out, the works. He dismantled and fully rebuilt the engine, machining the head, rebuilding the injector pump, and when complete, had a ’78 BJ40 Land Cruiser that had all the pep and power of a new rig. He drove the Cruiser around Tenerife for a couple years, until an itch familiar to any car guy-or-gal set in: He wanted something different. For him, the automotive wanderlust was leading him to a Jeep Wrangler. For me, this was a lot of fun: Driving around D.C. and Northern Virginia, there are no shortage of Wranglers. And not just any Wranglers. Built-up rigs with as much personality dripping from them as one can imagine. Photographing these for Ayoze was probably a form of torture prohibited in the Geneva Convention, but therein was the irony: I was surrounded by what moved him, and he had what I wanted. Such is life, I suppose.

His touches around the Land Cruiser are light but just as personal as any wrangler here in the States: When his restorative work was performed in 2016, he opted to paint the Toyota a matte forest green, under a gloss black roof. The original 16” split-rim wheels made there way back to Virginia, where we decided to put our own stink on it: We powdered coated them and had a meaty set of Hankook Dynapro MT’s mounted. We’re happy with the result and have thoroughly enjoyed having this Land Cruiser around the shop.

Driveline. The 3.0L Toyota “B” diesel engine was fully rebuilt in 2016. It sparks to life with ease, and makes fantastic power, helping pull the truck down the road around 60mph. It revs freely and has outstanding low-end torque. The four-speed transmission shifts smoothly, while the high-low transfer case engages with ease, helping the Toyota go damn-near-anywhere you can think to put it.

Exterior. The matte forest green paint sits under a gloss black roof, while the 16” split-rim wheels were powder coated a Dusty Grey and mounted with Hankook Dynapro MTs. The body and chassis are largely rust-free; dog legs, chassis components, bulkhead areas, and rear quarter panels are all straight and clean. The only rust evident lies on the bottom of the front grill. The body itself has some light scratches; far from perfect, it’s the type of truck you can hop in and drive every day.  

Interior. The black vinyl interior is largely stock, configured to seat three across the front, with two rear-opposed jump seats providing room for 2-4 more people, size depending. The front driver and passenger seats have shoulder and lap belts. An aftermarket head unit was installed, with a cubby box sitting under the dash holding the speakers. And they work just fine, but between you and me, the growl of the diesel provides a nice enough soundtrack all on it’s own.

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