When we decided to launch a weekly series entitled “Future Classics,” one of the first vehicles on our list was the Toyota FJ40.
However, while wandering through the tents, buildings and parking lots of vehicles being offered up for bids during Arizona Auction Week, we wondered if the FJ might not be a future classic but already a classic.
We counted 14 of them in the Barrett-Jackson catalog. There also were a couple at Russo and Steele, one at Silver (plus an FJ45 pickup version), and even Bonhams, RM and Gooding & Company each had one FJ cross its block.
But we still feel justified in calling the FJ40 a future classic.
For one thing, they have yet to be included in the Hagerty Price Guide of collectible cars, which lists only Toyota’s 2000GT, 1980 Celica Supra and the various and ensuing Supras (which became a separate model line) as classics.
On the other hand, the Kelley Blue Book Official Guide for Early Model Cars does include 1963-83 FJ40s, and notes that you can expect as much as $53,900 for one in excellent condition.
Prices at the Arizona auctions ranged from the very high teens to $101,750 for a 1977 FJ40 Land Cruiser at RM. The 1978 model at Bonhams brought $71,500. Typically, however, prices were in the $25,000 to $50,000 range.
Although they aren’t include in Hagerty’s price guide (something we figure will change with the next edition of that book), McKeel Hagerty will tell you that early SUVs and classic pickups are the up-and-coming collector vehicles, in part because they’re cool, in part because they’re versatile (you can still actually use them on a frequent basis), and in part because they’re still affordable.
OK, so they’re a little less affordable at classic car auctions, but you can find them at classic car dealerships, used car lots and being sold by private owners for less than $20,000.
The FJ40 traces its roots back to the original Jeeps that carried U.S. soldiers in World War II. When the U.S. military found itself fighting a few years later on the Korean peninsula, the Army hired Toyota to produce an updated version, one better suited to the rugged, hilly Korean topography.
That original BJ (B stood for the Toyota engine and J for Jeep) was succeeded by the FJ series, first an FJ20 and then the FJ40, which soon became the vehicle of choice for people around the world who had to deal with mountains, deserts, jungles and other extreme and unpaved environments.