Hi everybody, thanks in advance for reading. I'm getting this thread started to document what it's like to live with an 80 Series Land Cruiser, share the adventures it's taken me on, and outline some of the maintenance that they need.
This all started about a year ago when I started running into some major issues with my Mazdas. Mechanically the Speed 3 and Miata were doing just fine, but they lacked the ground clearance and other capabilities that I needed to enjoy the mountains to the fullest. About once a month I would find myself having to abandon camping plans because I was flat-out unable to get to the site.
So I started looking at the CX-5 to continue my life as a Mazda fanboy. After driving one I quickly realized I didn't like the CX-5. My search expanded to more capable vehicles, such as the 4Runner, X-Terra, XJ Cherokee, etc. One thing led to another, and I found myself at a buy here/pay here lot looking at a 1997 LX450 with a mere 169k miles on the clock.
For those unfamiliar - the LX450 was nothing more than a FZJ80 Land Cruiser with some extra goodies like more sound deadening, a CD changer, and Lexus badges. Mechanically, they're identical. It's powered by a 4.5-liter, twin-cam, four-valve inline-six engine that produces a whopping 215 hp and 275 lb⋅ft of torque. The hatchback I traded in for it made more power Curb weight comes in at roughly 5000 pounds. It's worth noting that this was the last generation of LC to be sold in the US with solid front and rear axles. Other mechanical bits include a 4 speed automatic, full time 4wd, low range with center locker, extra transmission cooler, etc. This one lacks the desirable optional front and rear diff lockers, but for what I need that's ok.
After a quick drive and poke around under the hood and under the rig, I knew I had to have it. This thing was so beefy compared to all of the other 4x4's I looked at. The price was right, so I said goodbye to the joys of hot hatch ownership and welcomed a slow beast into my life. Chungus was purchased in September of 2019.
A few shots from the car lot. It's clean clean clean.
Some glamour shots from its first week home:
Initial driving impressions: It's slow. Really slow. It's even more under-powered than the Miata. There is zero sense of urgency when the throttle is applied heavily. The ride is reminiscent of a luxury car of the same era - floaty and boaty. Larger bumps are a little jarring but the small stuff gets soaked up well. The LX has a softer spring rate than the LC. Twisty mountain roads that are fun in a Mazda become a chore. Whipping around corners has been replaced by rollover concerns. The brakes are fine, nothing to really comment on aside from the fact that they do an adequate job slowing down a super heavy rig. Apparently the brake pads off the 100 series fit these, and perform better. That's a mod that'll come down the road.
This thing is a thirsty pig. I've been averaging 12-14mpg around town and managed 17 on a highway trip.
I really wish I could say that the seats are comfortable, but I find that after two hours of seat time my legs start to bug me. I wish they offered more thigh support like some of the German manufacturers offer. The seating position is very upright, which is fine for a vehicle like this. The rest of the interior is a nice place to be. I replaced the factory headunit with a Kenwood touchscreen so that I could add cameras down the road and have creature comforts like Bluetooth for music and hands-free calling. I lost the ability to use the CD changer as a result, which is fine by me. The stereo sounds nice with the new radio hooked up, although the lack of a true subwoofer means it doesn't thump hard enough to rattle the windows.
Anyway, because I bought a 4x4 to do 4x4 things, I took it out onto a trail the first chance I got. With fresh temp tags, I headed to Caribou flats - a trail rated as "moderate" and "ok for stock trucks"
Things were going pretty smoothly. The suspension has great flex. The Michelin Defenders that wrapped the stock 16" wheels weren't my first choice in all-terrain tire. These were replaced by some Hankook snow tires and I'll be running Coopers this summer.
It had rained the night before, there were some muddy sections that I was able to overcome in 4Low, which automatically locks the center diff. This was the worst of them:
I came in from the high line shown on the right in the first photo and promptly slid into the hole, mashing the steel front bumper into the mud as it went down. And then I was stuck. After rocking it back and forth a number of times, the mighty LX clawed its way out and the rest of the journey continued without further incident.
Is it really a Toyota without a Camry dent? I'm glad I got it out of the way as quickly as possible.
More to come