1951-1960: Toyota Jeep BJ & 20 Series

The Toyota Jeep BJ (1951-55) emerged from military prototypes made during the Korean War. The “B” came from Toyota’s B-Series engine; the “J” came from jeep. That name quickly became problematic (no, not for that reason; get your head out of the gutter): Willys, as it turned out, had trademarked “Jeep” in 1954. Toyota went with “Land Cruiser.”

These found steady employment as military, police and fire vehicles. Toyota eventually modified it into a civilian version in the form of the 20 Series Land Cruiser (1955-60). It had rounded, more stylish bodywork, a more spacious cabin, a better suspension and a shorter wheelbase for better maneuverability. It used the bulletproof F-Series inline-six engine that would remain a mainstay of the model until 1992.

The 20 Series was the first Land Cruiser exported to the United States. Toyota sold one of them alongside 287 Toyopet Crown sedans in 1958, its first year selling cars in the U.S.