The Good Oil: Cruiser for the wide boys
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Toyota’s big-gun Land Cruiser wagon is legendary for its go-anywhere ability but also for being, well, really big. The latest 300-series is no exception.
All kids’ stuff compared with the company’s Mega Cruiser (1995-2001), which remains the largest SUV Toyota has ever built: “just” 5090mm long, but 2170mm wide and the best part of three tonnes in kerb weight. Ground clearance was an incredible 420mm.
Biggest, but maybe not the most original. If you think the Mega Cruiser looks like Toyota’s version of the Hummer H1, you’re not far off. Like the Hummer, it was designed primarily for military use (that’s the BXD10 version). The Japan Self-Defence Forces (JSDF) were the main customers, although it was also used by police, emergency services and even the Japan Automobile Federation.
At the time, Toyota said the vehicle had “outstanding capabilities for working in arduous conditions such as in rescue work during disasters”.
But the Mega Cruiser’s availability to civilian customers is a big part of the enduring cult appeal. It remains a rarity though: of the 3000 vehicles produced, just 133 were in roadgoing specification (BXD20), sold only in Japan through Toyota Stores.
The Mega Cruiser was powered by a 4.1-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with 114kW/382Nm, matched to a four-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer and front, centre and rear differential locks. Slow and steady wins the war, right?
Because it’s Japanese and unlike the Hummer H1, the Mega Cruiser was mostly built in right-hand drive (only a handful were created in left-hook specification). So it makes for an ideal used import to NZ if you can find one – and can afford one. They cost around NZ$140,000 when new (back in 1995, remember) and are very collectible; you’ll pay that or more for a tidy example now.
You might want to measure the width of your driveway first though.