As basic as basic can be: 1969 Land Cruiser

Farm Forum

American Jeeps and British Land Rovers have always appealed to the off-road crowd. In 1969, however, a young Marine Corps officer was shopping for an off road-capable vehicle and discovered Toyota’s Land Cruiser. The more he investigated the more he liked what he saw. The officer purchased a red Land Cruiser from Webbs Irving Toyota in Irving, Calif.

The 1969 Toyota Land Cruiser came equipped with 4WD with locking front hubs and has a three-speed manual transmission with a shift lever on the floor. At the rear of the Toyota are a trailer hitch and an accompanying electrical connection.

In addition to the under-dashboard heater there is an auxiliary heater in the rear of the cabin. Occupants of the pair of sideways-facing jump seats in the rear face one another. Eight of the 10 windows are perfectly flat glass; the remaining two are curved wraparound windows in the rear corners.

The 3.9-liter, inline, six-cylinder engine is fed fuel from the 16-gallon tank under the passenger seat via a two-barrel Rochester carburetor. Air flowing through the grille at the front is augmented by air entering the engine bay through 14 louvers on top of the engine hood — seven on each side.

In the summer of 1985 the Marine decided the time had come to part with his low mileage Land Cruiser.

Since new the annual mileage was about 2,500 miles.

Tom Davis kept the ’69 Land Cruiser whenever the Marine officer was out of the country and was happy to take the Toyota off his hands. Davis is not fond of the location of the fuel tank beneath the passenger’s seat saying, “It’s like sitting on a time bomb,” he says.

Davis wasn’t pleased with the original red paint either, so it was covered with something more to his liking, namely a 1964 GMC pickup color, Autumn Wood Light for the body and Autumn Wood Dark on the front fenders and fiberglass top.

Davis notes that the speedometer is calibrated for speeds up to 100 mph. “I wouldn’t want to be in it at 100.” Davis has also replaced the original seat belts that secure the front seat occupants.

Davis marvels at the engineering efficiency of the front door window cranks. The big windows in the doors can be raised or lowered with only two-and-a-quarter turns of the hand cranks.

Each corner of the 12-foot, 9-inch-long Toyota is cushioned by leaf springs. It rides on a 91-inch wheelbase. Under the engine hood is the 12-volt battery and the filler pipe where 7 quarts of oil can be poured into the crankcase.

With his hands on the three-spoke steering wheel, Davis is comfortable driving at about 55 mph. “I try to avoid Interstate highways,” he says.

Toyota equipped the 1969 model with turn signals and a single backup light. There is an AM/FM radio, but in the noisy cabin, Davis reports, “You can’t hear it.”

At the rear of the Land Cruiser are three doors, a liftgate on the top half while the lower half is split in half vertically. Davis has discovered that only 15 bolts secure the top to the body. Consequently, he removes the top in April and replaces it in September. He has built an apparatus in his garage that can hoist the top off the vehicle, so it can be driven out from under the raised top.

The odometer recently rolled over 68,000 miles. And in 2013, the Toyota shows no sign of slowing. “It’s as basic as basic can be,” Davis says.

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