As the Toyota FJ40 market settles, now might be the time to buy

blue 1978 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 front 3/4

How times have changed for the Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40. Once upon a time, the FJ40 was an old farm hand, a rugged master of function that may have lacked modern amenities but could always be counted on to get the job done, even if that job was on another continent—and maybe even featured on the pages of National Geographic. (That’s where I remember first seeing one, anyway.)

Today the FJ40 is an auction fixture, often over-restored and generally living the good life as a collector vehicle, its hill-climbing days in the rear view. Similarly, it seems the classic FJ40’s values have also leveled off.

The 4x4 utility vehicle, a Japanese version of the famed WWII-era jeep, was launched in 1960 and began being imported to the U.S. in 1963. Within two years, the FJ40 Land Cruiser was the best-selling Toyota in America, and it wasn’t even close. Cosmetically, the FJ40 didn’t change much through the years. Available with an open body or fully enclosed, it was essentially the same truck from the beginning to end, except for some evolutionary mechanical improvements and a slight drop in horsepower in the mid-1970s. Production ended after 1984.

1970 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 badges
1978 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 rear 3/4
1978 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 side profile
1978 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 engine

As FJ40s reached the secondary market, it became very common for owners to take on engine swaps, most notably by replacing the FJ’s stock six-cylinder power plant with a small-block Chevy V-8. The Chevy engine certainly yielded more power, but Toyota’s six –essentially a reverse-engineered 235-cubic-inch Stovebolt-six Chevrolet engine that produced 135 horsepower–was virtually indestructible.

When classic FJ40s began to trickle into major auctions and high-end restorations found willing bidders with lots of cash, prices shot up and FJ40 owners across the country began to cash in. Potential buyers had plenty to choose from, and prices came back down to earth. Since 2016, a Land Cruiser FJ40 in #2 (Excellent) condition has fallen an average of 7.6 percent to $47,375.

For comparison, the average value of a 1968 FJ40 in #2 (Good) condition is $49,100, while a 1975 model in similar condition has an average value of $44,800.

1970 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40
RM Sotheby's
1970 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40

Meanwhile, the Hagerty Value Rating for a 1968–84 FJ40 is 62, which is unchanged from last month. [The data-driven Hagerty Value Rating is based on a 0–100 scale and considers the number of vehicles insured and quoted through Hagerty, along with auction activity and private sales results. A 50-point rating indicates that a vehicle is keeping pace with the overall market. Ratings higher than 50 show above-average interest, while vehicles with a sub-50-point rating are lagging. The HVR is not an indicator of future collectability, but it says a lot about what’s trending hot and what’s not.]

According to Hagerty valuation analyst John Wiley, although FJ40 values are down overall, interest is growing among younger enthusiasts. In 2018, the number of Millennials quoting the FJ40 increased by 2 percent to 16 percent of all Land Cruiser quotes. Gen-Xers remain the vehicle's biggest fans and accounted for 47 percent of all quotes in 2018 (unchanged from 2017). Overall, the number of quotes increased 9.5 percent from 2017 to 2018, and the average quote value increased 2.6 percent to $27,082 in 2018. That dollar amount is significantly lower than the FJ40's average #2 value, regardless of model year, which means there are still some deals to be had on lesser-condition Land Cruisers, if you can find them.

“With the FJ40 market settling and demographics shifting,” Wiley says, “now might be a good time to look for one.”

And if something newer is more your flavor, there’s always the beefy, FJ40-inspired FJ Cruiser, which has its own energetic following.