Welcome to Below Average Cars, an occasional series about kickass cars you can buy for less than the average price of a new car.*
For this special Tacoma Tuesday edition of Below Average Cars, We have an absolute beauty, a 1979 Toyota Land Cruiser HJ45 long-bed pickup.
No one on Oppo needs reminding of the legendary reputation of the Land Cruiser. They go anywhere, they do anything, and they don't break down. This one will certainly go anywhere, but it won't go anywhere fast. That is because instead of being one of the FJ series Land Cruisers we are used to in the states, this one is an HJ, which means there is a pulsing, throbbing (there is no other way to say this) diesel between those elegantly sculpted front fenders.
This particular cruiser has been imported from South America, and it isn't alone. South America has become the hot spot for TLC imports these days, for a couple reasons. First, unlike Aussie imports, they are LHD. Second, a couple of companies have popped up down there in recent years that are manufacturing new body panels for old cruisers, and from what I have read, they are using original Toyota tooling. Considering that there is not much space to hide shoddy work on a vehicle that shows more metal than OzzFest, this particular example looks to have been restored pretty well.
It isn't 100 percent perfect, however. The bumper is wrong, although that doesn't necessarily matter. The tires are too wide for my taste. This thing is begging for a set of 7.50r16 pizza cutters. The biggest flaw I see in it, though, are the split rim wheels, which can kill or seriously injure you if you aren't careful.
Swap for a set of non-split steelies, though, and you'd be good to go. Who needs a Tacoma?
Sure, a Taco is faster, and it has amenities, but Tacos don't look nearly this good. They also don't have that magical off-road combination of solid axles and a diesel motor.
Tacomas are known for holding value extremely well. When I bought my most recent vehicle, I set out to find a Taco. I bought a low mileage British luxury car because it was half the price of a Taco that had twice the miles. There is a very real chance, however, that an old TLC pickup like this one would be worth more than you paid for it when you get around to selling it. Prices for vintage off-roaders have been climbing significantly of late, and show no signs of abating.
All of this adds up to one simple Truth- the HJ45 is one hell of a Below Average Car.
*Following this advice will often make your SO hate you and your mechanic love you. You may end up broke, wrapped around a tree, or both. Just because you can buy a Below Average Car doesn't mean you should, except it obviously does. I'm not affiliated with any seller.