What is it like owning the same car for 40 years ?

Land Cruiser

A love affair with an old Toyota Land Cruiser might sound like an odd obsession, but one Sydneysider has owned the same car for four decades.

That’s pretty remarkable when you consider that the average new car buyer hangs on to their vehicle for about five years.

But Phil Meade, a retired accountant from Penshurst in Sydney’s south-west, didn’t buy the chunky short-wheelbase 40 series Land Cruiser 4WD in 1975 for its good looks.

At the time, it was top of the line in off-road motoring despite being delivered with an uncomfortable bench seat, no air conditioning and basic leaf-spring suspension.

Phil and his wife Cheryl set about modifying this gas-guzzling military-spec mini truck to their own needs; they never considered that it would become an antique.

“One of the first things we did was get rid of the bench seat,” says Phil, “It was pretty terrible. We fitted a pair of very racy Recaro bucket seats and even an under-dash air conditioner from this guy in Granville who was making them.”

Toyota did not offer air conditioning as a factory option until the 60 series was introduced in 1980.

In the early ‘90s, the pair decided to upgrade the Land Cruiser to the flash new 80 series which, by comparison, was a Rolls-Royce.

They were offered a modest $3500 trade-in for the old FJ40 and decided to keep it instead, investing $15,000 in a garage extension to house both vehicles.

The FJ40 has taken them as far as Western Australia reliably and almost comfortably.

They managed to get around the Toyota’s thirsty engine by adding an extra fuel tank and carrying jerry cans. Phil had fitted a larger Holley 350 carburettor which helped performance, but not economy.

These days the couple, long-time members of the Toyota Land Cruiser Club of Australia www.tlcc.com.au, keep the FJ40 for special occasions and show days.

toyota land cruiser

In fact, Phil and Cheryl’s Land Cruiser is thought to be the best-maintained, privately owned example of its type in Australia. So much so that Toyota themselves have borrowed it for their own displays several times.

The list price for the FJ40 was $5495 in 1976 and could probably fetch almost that today, especially one in this condition. Will he ever sell it? “It’s been such a part of our life for so long, it would be pretty hard to part with it now,” says Phil.

Want to find your own off-road gem? Check out these used cars listings on Gumtree:

Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 81 model – $16,500

toyota land cruiser 2

Image credit: Gumtree user

Rugged and sturdy, this classic Toyota four-wheel drive (with a new bikini-top roof) is perfect for off-roading or cruising in town.

1976 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 – $15,000 (negotiable)

Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40

Image credit: Gumtree user

The owner of this soft-top classic says no expense has been spared on the rebuild of the “yellow beast”, using local and imported parts.

1978 FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser 4×4 Custom Built – $31,000

1978 FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser

Image credit: Gumtree user

This custom-built 1978 Toyota Land Cruiser with “extreme suspension”, painted in midnight blue, is a real head-turner.


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