Why is the 1983 FJ40 the “Holy Grail
By Gregory Overton, Land Cruiser Nation and Jonathan Ward, ICON
1983 was the final year for the FJ40 in the United States. The non-USA version was continued until 1984 but was considerably less evolved than the USA models.
Low sales numbers due to the introduction of the FJ60 in 1981 coupled with increasing EPA and Safety standards, high import tariffs and competition from Jeep CJ’s all contributed to Toyota’s decision to discontinue the FJ40 in US Markets in 1983.
There were approximately three hundred FJ40’s delivered to the US that year, so finding a 1983 FJ40 in any condition is rare. Many have since been parted out, modified, or have simple rusted away. It is estimated that about fifty 1983 FJ40’s were delivered with factory power steering and/or factory air conditioning. The trucks that remain in good condition with both options are Uber-rare!
Besides the fact that there are very few of these FJ40’s available, the 1983 model has many factors that make it the best all around Land Cruiser Toyota ever built, and the most coveted.
These enhancements were evolutionary and started in 1976 with USA trucks getting front disc brakes with four-piston calipers. By 1979 Toyota went to 3:73 gears, which gave the FJ40 better highway speed than earlier 4:11 gear ratio models. Then in August of 1980 we saw the change to the split transfer case and updated four-speed transmission, which was considerably smoother and quieter than it’s predecessor.
The emergency brake design was updated using cables to actuate the rear drum brakes vs. the earlier models, which deployed a drum that sat behind the transfer case and was problematic and less efficient. The fuel tank was relocated from under the passenger seat to a safer location underneath the vehicle that allowed for an increased from 16 to 21.6 gallons. The steering wheel was re-designed to a more modern look. The dashboard, which is unique to 1983, was re-designed using a silver and black dash panel held with four screws to allow easy access to wiring for serviceability.
The odometer was upgraded from five digits to six-digits. The choke received a lighted knob, as did the headlight switch. The seats became reclining, the jump seats were given metal U-shaped legs for added support. The cabin courtesy light came on when the doors are opened. The center console, which was a simple metal and then plastic box, was upgraded with an ashtray and integrated rear heater.
Trucks delivered to colder climates were equipped with side window defrosters and in very late 1983 models you may find doors with wing windows, which were common on earlier FJ40’s but discontinued in the mid 70’s in favor of one larger window. Some 83’s have odd, NON USA, content due to the fact that Toyota was running out of parts specific to the US model. So digital clocks, unique columns (with ignition lock) and other details are occasionally present.
So in summary, the 1983 FJ40, which has become known as “The Holy Grail” is not only in extremely short supply but also delivers more refinements than any Land Cruiser that Toyota built in the preceding years. The values throughout the last few decades have shown that the 1983 FJ40 is one of the best possible investments on four wheels. They continue to rise in value, on a trajectory unique in the classic car and 4x4 market.