Which Is The Better 70s Off Roader: The Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 Or First Gen Bronco
Ford's Bronco and Toyota's Land Cruiser might be back in modern form but the classic examples of the off-roaders still have a lot to offer.
The introduction of the new Ford Bronco a few years ago and the new Toyota Land Cruiser for 2024 have revived an SUV battle in North America. This began with the first generation of the Bronco, and the FJ40 generation of the Land Cruiser built from 1960 until 2001. Both early generations hit their peak in the 1970s, and they now command a lot of attention in the classic car market.
So how do the two compare? Well, both have similar off-road capabilities and reliability, but offer different levels of design and styling. How the two are priced can depend on their condition, but the battle between the classic SUVs is quite the interesting one.
Information on Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 and Ford Bronco values taken from Hagerty Evaluation Tool
The Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 became highly regarded as the core product of Toyota’s worldwide export strategy, and that was evident in the looks alone. The FJ40 had very attractive flat surfaces, curved windows, and curved rear corners to create a tough yet also pleasing aesthetic.
Those clean lines also meant the FJ40 had fantastic all-around visibility, particularly when it came to the rear windows. The big bumpers and its boxy outline meant that the FJ40 looked every bit as tough as it was. Toyota’s build quality then added to the appeal of the original Land Cruiser.
There is little to complain about with the Ford Bronco either. The Bronco sports a simple yet highly charming exterior shape, with various chrome editions ensuring that the SUV had a certain extra level of sophistication over its Toyota rival.
The Broncos from the 1970s have smoother lines and curves, and a bit more gravitas and the design was also implemented into the very collectible Bronco wagon. Both SUVs though epitomized the 1970s, and their size to their modern counterparts shows just how different from their successors they really are.
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One of the best ways to see just how much classic examples of these SUVs are worth is via the Hagerty Evaluation Tool. Checking it out, we can see for example that a 1971 Ford Bronco, in two-door wagon 4x4 trim is currently evaluated at $49,600.
That value can rise higher still for the pickup truck version of the 1971 Bronco. Hagerty evaluates this version at $51,000. Those are staggering numbers when you note that the current Bronco has an MSRP for the base model of $34,890. The Toyota Land Cruiser equally can sell for big money.
Hagerty rates the FJ40 version of the Land Cruiser high, with a good condition 1972 FJ40 evaluated at $27,600. Looking at the highest sales figures for the SUV paints a fascinating picture too. Hagerty says the highest sale record for a 1968-1983 Land Cruiser FJ40 is a staggering $286,000.
For a Ford Bronco from 1966-1977, the highest sales figure is even higher, with Hagerty claiming $650,000. The most recent Hagerty sale for a 1973 Bronco was $134,000 while a 1978 Land Cruiser FJ40V recently sold for $114,000. These big numbers highlight the desirability of the classic SUVs.
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The Land Cruiser might win in the reliability takes, thanks to proven Toyota toughness and durability. The FJ40 generation in particular has forged a reputation for virtually bulletproof reliability, with outlets such as AutoWeek heaping a lot of praise onto the model.
The FJ40 helped to solidify Toyota's reputation as one of the most reliable car manufacturers in the world. In fact, it is this reliability that prevented the efforts of Land Rover's early export sales, in very important markets such as the United States.
With it clearly one of the most durable SUVs of its time, the Land Cruiser FJ40 easily became a legend, and the Bronco is very much the same.
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Generally, old Ford Broncos are good vehicles. Users on Reddit have spoken about the Ford SUV as a winter car, and the consensus is that the Bronco is a very reliable SUV. It can handle even some extremely cold conditions.
There are issues with the Bronco, such as its high center of gravity but for the most part, they are extremely reliable. Like the Land Cruiser, the Bronco was able to forge quite the reputation as one of the toughest and most reliable off-roaders on the market, although it perhaps falls a little short of its Toyota rival.
When it comes to spare parts for the two SUVs, these are relatively easy to come by. The sheer number of Land Cruisers built and exported all over the world means that spare parts are plentiful, be they from heritage part outlets such as Koromo Heritage or donor cars.
The Bronco itself wasn’t quite as prolific as the Toyota, but it is equally an easy task to source the required parts. Maintaining the Land Cruiser in particular recently became easier thanks to Toyota saying it will resume manufacturing of critical drivetrain and other components for the early Land Cruisers.
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Unsurprisingly, the Land Cruiser is the big winner here when it comes to off-road capabilities. Motor Trend recently did an interesting comparison between various classic SUVs which included the Land Cruiser and the Bronco.
They were full of praise for the Land Cruiser off-road, claiming its steering in the dirt and mud was spot on and that it can crawl nicely over obstacles thanks to its 4.84:1 first gear. The short wheelbase of the Land Cruiser FJ40 enables it to navigate narrow tracks and tight turns, with them even comparing the off-roader to a modern Jeep.
The Bronco also stacked up pretty well, with the 4.9-liter V8 in their Bronco providing all the power needed on and off the beaten track. A 40-degree approach angle and great ground clearance ensure the classic Bronco can easily navigate ruts, water crossings, and more.
Modern Jeeps may have a tough time outperforming the classic off-roaders, and how they perform in 2023 is an impressive achievement. Ford and Toyota certainly hit the nail on the head with both these off-roaders, with the Land Cruiser perhaps the slightly more rounded performer overall.
Sources: Motor Trend, Ford, Toyota, Hagerty, AutoWeek
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