This Nearly Restored 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser Evokes Nostalgia for the 1990s.

Published Categorized as Cars No Comments on This Nearly Restored 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser Evokes Nostalgia for the 1990s.
This 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser Almost Makes Us Miss the 1990s

The new Toyota Land Cruiser is indeed impressive, yet there’s a certain nostalgia that has us enthusiasts yearning for the old-school charm of the 1990s models. These rugged and retro vehicles from that era played a pivotal role in shaping today’s off-road and off-grid overland culture. Spotting a right-hand drive example on the road can easily lead to dangerously distracted daydreams. For those of us who still vividly remember the year 2000 as if it were just two months ago, labeling a nostalgic 1990s Toyota Land Cruiser as “old-school” feels a tad offensive. However, to younger generations and when compared to most contemporary vehicles, a 30-year-old SUV might as well be a Model T.

Discovering a meticulously restored Land Cruiser, or can we call it a restomod, nearly pushes us over the top – it’s the kind of sighting that prompts a phone call to a friend, snapping a picture, discussing it at dinner, and maybe even following it for a while. Although the FJ80 series may not be the quintessential Land Cruiser, the allure of encountering a pristine 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 is undeniable. Its classic two-tone Imperial Green and Mystic Gold exterior (an aftermarket paint, not factory) manages to keep the spirit of the 1990s alive. However, the shocker is that it’s 2024, and it took countless man-hours by the skilled team at TLC 4×4 – founded by ICON 4×4’s Jonathan Ward in 1996 – to meticulously reimagine and restore this timeless 4×4 SUV into a showroom-worthy specimen.

This Nearly Restored 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser Evokes Nostalgia for the 1990s.
This Nearly Restored 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser Evokes Nostalgia for the 1990s. (Credits: Off Road Xtreme)

Beneath the hood lies an even more intriguing story. Sacrilegious as it may sound, the original 212 hp, 275 lb-ft of torque 4.5-liter inline-6 from the 1993-1997 FZJ80 has been replaced with a potent 430hp GM LS3 V-8 engine paired with a GM 4L65E four-speed automatic transmission. Additional enhancements include a Magnaflow exhaust system for extra rumble and disc brakes for improved stopping power. Handling and stabilization receive a boost from Fox shocks, Old Man Emu springs, and a Slee Offroad front sway bar. LED lighting throughout replaces the factory lighting, adding a modern touch.

TLC’s attention to detail extends to the interior, where they successfully restored it without compromising its era-appropriate character and charm. The cleanliness of the interior, both aesthetically and physically, is notable. Leather seats featuring tasteful plaid inserts carried into the door panels add a touch of sophistication. Less apparent are the leather-wrapped components, such as the steering wheel and shifter knobs, along with the ICON 4×4 sun visors and Alcantara headliner. A JVC head unit and Kicker KS speakers and subwoofers provide the soundtrack, while ample Dynamat insulation ensures a quiet cabin.

Now, when it comes to the price, as the saying goes, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” Admittedly, most of us fall into that category, but for those fortunate few, this magnificent 1997 Land Cruiser is available with a starting price of $250,000. While this might seem steep, it pales in comparison to some million-dollar vehicles. Ultimately, it’s all relative – you might find a high-mileage Land Cruiser from this era for less, but it won’t hold a candle to TLC’s expertly crafted rendition.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments