buying an older Landcruiser on ebay

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older Landcruisers are more common than you would think in the UK . For about £800 - £1500 or a bit more , you have a choice of vehicles , but there are some points to watch out for .

I'm not going to say much about Hiluxes , except to say that most of them have been used as work vehicles , often on construction sites plus hard motorway driving on the weekend run home , so they have sometimes had a right old bashing . The 2.4 litre engine is notably weaker than the 2.8 litre version , and best avoided . Fuel consumption can be pretty scary . Personally I wouldn't buy an older Hilux at all , but it's up to you , you might be lucky

older 'Cruisers come in four main versions

firts of all , the 40/45/55 series . These are best regarded as collectors' vehicles . They are solid and last forever if they in good condition , and they are serious off-road vehicles which make Landrovers look like Tonka toys . However the rustproofing on the bodies leaves a great deal to be desired . Japanese or Australian imports may not be bad at all due to the dry climate , but European or US ones are often rotten in all the odd corners and if the chassis is rusty , then get ready for some serious costs . There was an Australian one recently on ebay with LPG conversion which looked tidy , but DO go and look at a vehicle which is going to cost you in the £3500 - £5000 range .

The best ones are the later ones with power steering and 4-litre diesel ( 6-cylinder ) engine , if you can find one with the 62-series 5-speed transmission and vacuum-operated 4wd selector , even better . Drum brakes are very poor , so look for ones with disc front brakes ( again a retro-fit using 60-series parts ) as a worthwhile extra . Ditto free-wheel hubs . Some have various power steering conversions using Toyota or Saginaw parts , these are worth having . Fuel consumptions on the petrol ones is pretty terrifying . Diesel ones are usually ok , about 25 mpg ; some have had turbos fitted at some stage .

Next up are the 60 / 62 series , these turn up regularly and usually make £800 - £1500 . They are huge LWB estates with 5 seats , 4 doors and a split tailgate like a Range Rover . All have the 4-litre 6-cylinder engine with no turbocharger , unless one has been fitted at some time in its life , although this is rare . These tend to suffer from  concealed body rust in a whole range of locations , aircon ones are worst as the air exhausts at the back of the body and rots the whole upper body behind the liners . If you see rust bubbling through somewhere , walk away as it will be all over the back of the panel ; either that or of it has a long MoT , buy it cheap and reckon to scrap it when it runs out .

They are a bit slow ( 65-70mph on the motorway ) but they will go anywhere , pull anything ( GVTW is 6 tonnes ! ) and do 25mpg along the way , 27mpg if you get a good one . They will do 300,000 miles before needing serious mechanical attention if they have been maintained along the way -so look for one with FSH if you can .

apart from that the 6-cylinder injected engines are mechanically very strong , they have chain-driven cams so no worries about cambelts and no turbos , so no expensive bearing failures and huge oil consumptions . They all have 24-volt electrics , so bulbs can be a bit of a pain , and they will blow the lights on your caravan if you don't fit an adapter , but the starting is first-click in any weather . They all have free-wheel hubs like a Hilux , leaf springs fore and aft and disc front brakes

as a quick guide the 60-series ones have single round headlights , wind-down windows and 4-speed gearboxes ( usually manual but autos turn up occasionally ) , and 62-series have twin square headlights , 5-speed gearboxes with a vacuum-operated 4wd selector ( this is great , it is the first Toyota to feature high-ratio 4wd as a result ) and electric windows but they are all pretty much the same otherwise

The 70-series ones are almost all SWB hardtops with the 2.5-litre turbo engine . These can be found on ebay most weeks and are usually solid enough although the usual comments about rust apply

these are usually dated around the late 80s and often serve as horse-box tugs , they are very good for towing but the short wheelbase and leaf springs makes them bob a bit and makes them a bit skittish with a caravan .

these ones have cambelts and turbos so keep this in mind when you are bidding for them , replacement is expensive !

they often have black paint trim around the headlights and look like they are wearing a mask ! they are the junior members of the 75-series which any expat will have seen in most parts of the world except the UK , these are formidable contraptions and I wish I could get one in the UK ...

VX 80-series ones are the last of the 'real' 'Cruisers , they are the first ones to have the modern body shape . They usually have 4.2 litre turbo diesels with the same indestructible feel as the older ones , but belt-drive cams so again , figure on replacing the cambelt at the first service . They have permanent 4wd and independent front suspension so are generally a bit smoother . Rust protection tends to be better and they are often quite nice inside and out . Avoid imports and any which have served as senior managers' vehicles on construction sites , but if you can find a low-mileage one ( say 100,000 with service history or MoT to back it up ) you can get a solid one for £2,500 - £4,000 .

then we are coming into the '2-tonne tarts handbag' zone which the later ones seem to have gone overboard for !

I'm not going to say anything about Pradas , I don't know them except that they mostly seem to be Jap-import autos

so ; my 'tip for the top' is a late-model low-mileage VX for value , a 60 or 62 for a cheap workhorse with a limited life , and a VX for solid family wheels or caravan tug


good luck !





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