Old Toyota Prado – JDM Land Cruiser 78 With Off-Road Mods

Land Cruiser Prado 78 lifted on 33 offroad wheels with 4 inch lift
Old Lifted Prado 78 on 33 inch offroad wheels
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 78 And Mercedes G-Class
Old Land Cruiser Prado 70 series SUV in Japan
old Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 78 with Amber Turn Signals Reflectors +3
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The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 78 is an iconic off-road vehicle that enjoys immense popularity globally, though it was never officially sold in the US market. Produced from the late 1980s through early 1990s, the legendary design and impressive off-roading capabilities of the Land Cruiser 70 series likely dissuaded Toyota from bringing the Prado 78 stateside, as it may have threatened sales of their fledgling 4Runner. Nevertheless, over three decades later, certain Land Cruiser 70-Series models remain in production worldwide, a testament to their unparalleled reliability and off-road prowess in demanding conditions.

This old-school Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 78-Series features subtle period-correct upgrades and beefy 33″ inch BF Goodrich All Terrain tires. Read on to find out more about this old JDM icon, it’s historical heritage and 4×4 capabilities.

The Off-road Build

This meticulously customized black-on-black Prado 78 exemplifies the Japanese off-road culture’s emphasis on tasteful modifications that enhance these vehicles’ inherent capabilities.

Wheels & Tires

Upgraded with 33×12.5″ BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires mounted on 15″ steel wheels in a vintage style, the ride height has been lifted substantially.

Exterior

Complementing the murdered-out exterior, dark window tinting and stainless steel running boards give a modern touch to the classic SUV profile. Accent details like the front bumper guard and amber corner lights blend seamlessly, calling back to the original rugged aesthetic.

Interior

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 78 RHD interior with Nardi Steering Wheel
Inside, a wood-finished Nardi retro steering wheel showcases Japanese heritage and craftsmanship. Overall, the owner has exercised restraint in modifying one of Toyota’s most revered 4x4s, highlighting its best attributes through selective upgrades.

Far from the outlandish treatments found in the JDM tuning scene, this Land Cruiser Prado 78 reflects an understated philosophy where sophistication derives from simplicity. Its synthesis of robust capability and tasteful style will surely make this exemplar a highly coveted collectible for years to come.

About The Model

What is a Land Cruiser 70-Series

The legendary Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series debuted in 1984 as a successor to the 40 Series. Offered in short-, medium- and long-wheelbase configurations, the 70 Series was conceived to meet military and rugged civilian transportation needs globally.

Lifted Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 70 in black with All Terrain tires
Initial models included the two-door pickup J70, the four-door van BJ70, and the three- and five-door SUVs FJ70, FJ73, FJ75. This iconic lineage continues today with current 70 Series models like the Troopcarrier, Pickup, and Double Cab produced in multiple countries.

Over its lifetime, the 70 Series has spawned numerous variants including soft-top convertibles, diesel and turbocharged engines, manual and automatic gearboxes, single and double cabs, and upgraded interior appointments. But the core DNA as an unstoppable go-anywhere vehicle has remained unchanged for over 35 years, cementing the Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series’ reputation as one of the toughest 4x4s ever built.

What is a Prado?

The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado emerged in 1990 as a long-wheelbase 5-door iteration within the iconic 70 Series line. Up until that point, the 70 Series had consisted solely of short-wheelbase models including the rugged 3-door SUV, 2-door pickup truck, and 4-door van.

The introduction of the new 5-door wagon version marked Toyota’s intent to enter the booming luxury SUV segment, which was then dominated by the immensely popular 2nd Gen Mitsubishi Pajero. To differentiate this more refined, family-oriented 5-door from its no-frills siblings, Toyota spun it off into its own model called the “Land Cruiser Prado.”

The Prado retained the core strengths of the 70 Series – its body-on-frame construction, coil suspension, part-time 4WD system, and stout powertrains. But it also received styling tweaks including softer lines, more glass, and an upgraded interior intended to deliver better on-road comfort and livability versus the spartan workhorse ethos of previous Land Cruisers.

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 78 And Mercedes G-Class
This formula proved successful, as the Prado went on to become a sales hit across multiple generations, bringing Toyota into the lucrative luxury SUV market while still maintaining the unmatched off-road credibility of the Land Cruiser name.

Up until the J150 model, the Prado was not part of the Land Cruiser range in North America; the rebadged Lexus GX occupied the Prado’s position in luxury trim. The Prado was then introduced there in 2023 and marketed simply as the “Land Cruiser”.

Prado Generations

The Prado has undergone several generations of updates and redesigns since its inception.

  • The first generation of Prado 70 was launched in the market in 1990. The car was featured in three and five-door versions with a shorter and longer wheelbase.
  • The second generation Prado 90 was launched in May 1996 and carried a J90 designation.
  • The third-generation Land Cruiser Prado 120 was released in October 2002. The newly designed high rigidity frame delivered enhanced maneuverability, vehicle stability, and quietness. The newly developed Torsen LSD transfer unit in the center differential boosted both on-road and off-road performance. It’s luxury version entered the American market under the name Lexus GX470.
  • The fourth generation of the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 150 started its journey in 2009. It didn’t look too different than the model it replaced it. For some unadvised viewers, that model could just pass as a facelift. But it was a new vehicle.

1st Gen Prado Specifications

The LC70 was available in both 3-door and 5-door versions, with a choice of two diesel engines. The 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder SOHC turbo diesel unit produced 97 PS (2L-TE), while the newly developed 3-liter 130 PS 4-cylinder turbo diesel unit was introduced in May 1993. The LC70 was equipped with either a 5-speed manual or an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission, and had a part-time 4-wheel-drive system with a 2-speed transfer case. 

Class Full-size SUV
Body style 5-door version
Layout Front-engine, four-wheel-drive
Engine options 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder SOHC turbo diesel, 97 PS (2L-TE)
3-liter 130 PS 4-cylinder turbo diesel unit
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Drivetrain configuration Part-time 4-wheel-drive
2-speed transfer case
Wheelbase 2,730 mm (107.5 in)
Length 4,550 mm (179.1 in) to 4,675 mm (184.1 in)
Width 1,690 mm (66.5 in) to 1,780 mm (70.1 in)
Height 1,880 mm (74.0 in) to 1,935 mm (76.2 in)
Curb weight 1,750 kg (3,858 lb) to 1,950 kg (4,299 lb)

Oversized Off-road Tire Sizes

Tire Size Lift
33×10.5R15 No Lift
32×11.5R15 No lift
33х12,5х15 2″ Suspension lift (+1″ Body Lift)
235/85R16 (32″) No lift
285/75/16 (33″) 2″ Lift

* Based on the information on 70-Series Land Cruiser forum.
old Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 78 with Amber Turn Signals Reflectors

See Also
BMW X5 Off Road build: E53 and E70 with overland mods

Author’s View

As an avid off-roading enthusiast, I’ve had the pleasure of driving and experiencing a range of classic 4x4s over the years. The Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series and first-generation Toyota Land Cruiser Prado are two iconic JDM rigs that left a lasting impression on me.

While neither model was officially sold in the US, they were hugely popular across the globe – from Australia to Siberia, South America, Asia and the Middle East. I was lucky enough to get behind the wheel of a 70 Series during my travels in Egypt, cruising across the desert sands of the Sinai Peninsula.

Here are some of my thoughts and perspectives on these classic Toyota 4x4s:

  • The styling and proportions are attractive and well-balanced, but in person the 70 Series feels quite compact – much smaller than a full-size Land Cruiser 80 or 100 Series. Cabin space is fairly tight, typical for a 90s compact SUV.
  • You won’t find any fancy high-horsepower engines, but the low-displacement gas and diesel motors offer plenty of torque and great fuel efficiency – ideal for off-road use.
    The part-time 4WD system gives you that Land Cruiser reliability and capability to conquer rough terrain with confidence. These are true off-road workhorses.
  • While not as luxurious as a Range Rover Classic or G-Wagen, they have a very unique character and iconic 80s-90s JDM flavor. More exclusive than a Mitsubishi Pajero or Toyota Land Cruiser 80 of the era.

Pros:

  • Great choice for collectors or enthusiasts
  • Excellent off-road traits
  • Toyota’s legendary reliability
  • Iconic JDM design

Cons:

  • Parts availability
  • Relatively small size

Thanks to the 25-year exemption, we can now import these legends into the US. They make fantastic platforms for customization and are hidden gems for fans of no-frills classic 4x4s. The 70 Series and 1st gen Prado will always hold a special place for me.

In Japan especially, the Prado 78 and similar 70-series Land Cruisers have experienced a surge of interest in recent years as pristine examples become collectible classics. Shops like FlexDream have emerged to meet demand, specializing in restoring these vehicles to their original rugged splendor.

Key Takeaways

  • Toyota Land Cruiser Prado debuted in 1990 as a 5-door iteration of the iconic 70 Series Land Cruiser line, intended to compete with the Mitsubishi Pajero in the luxury SUV market.
  • Shared the rugged body-on-frame construction and off-road capabilities of the 70 Series, but with more refined styling and features for improved comfort and livability.
  • Became a sales success for Toyota, establishing the Prado nameplate and allowing Toyota to enter the lucrative midsize SUV segment while maintaining the Land Cruiser heritage.
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