To say that the Toyota Land Cruiser has a massive fan base is an understatement. Thanks to its combination of utility, capability, and reliability, Toyota's flagship SUV has a reputation that is envied by other automakers. These days, they're more luxurious than ever, but it's still ready to get its wheels dirty at a moment's notice.
Perhaps the model that helped the Land Cruiser go upmarket is the 80 Series. It's also known as the one sold from late 1989 to 1998. It looked less brutish than its predecessor, the 60 Series, yet it retained all the capabilities to take on the rough stuff. It was also the plushest and most comfortable Land Cruiser yet. Because of that, the 80 Series cemented its legacy in automotive history.
The shape of the 80 Series is imprinted in every car enthusiast's mind, but it took a while for Toyota to finalize its design. Thanks to the internet, we found these hard-to-find images and share them with you.
From the initial sketches, we can see that Toyota had an outline in mind. It resembled the 60 Series but featured rounded-off edges to welcome the 90s. There were more radical ideas, but we're glad the designers went for a more conservative and recognizable look.
The 80 Series design we know today started taking shape during the scale model phase. Here we see the distinct shoulder line of the SUV that eventually reached production. The windows also began to look more recognizable. Of course, that didn't stop some folks from the design department to come up with a more futuristic and swept-back appearance.
We arrive at the full-scale mock-ups and it shows what the 80 Series could have looked like had it been approved. Again, the roofline is recognizable, but few elements drew inspiration from the smaller 70 Series. For instance, the corner of the headlights sweeps upwards and has a more angular look. Also, the light clusters and the grille were all housed in one rectangular panel. This design study also features boxy fender flares that are thicker than what was eventually fitted to the production model.
In the end, Toyota opted for a simpler and more upright design for the Land Cruiser. After all, they didn't want to alienate any long-time Land Cruiser owners. But the result was a mix of classic elements and modern (at the time) touches. That said, we're curious where all the mock-ups are stored within Toyota's massive design and development facilities.
To give you an idea of how big of a leap the 80 Series was from the 60 Series, we found a digital copy of the press release within Toyota's online archives. And if you were born on October 16, 1989, you have the same birthday as this legendary model.