THEY may be made in Japan, but we like to think Australia is the spiritual home of the Toyota Land Cruiser.
Australians buy thousands of them, keep them on the road for decades, and log up millions of kilometres in the everlasting workhorses from Toyota. As such, you might think if there was going to be a museum dedicated purely to Land Cruiser vehicles, it should be in Australia.
Readers might be surprised to learn that such a museum does exist, but it’s not on our fair shores. It’s not even in Japan, or in a country where the iconic vehicle has the popularity it has here. The best collection of Land Cruisers we’ve come across is in a private collection in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
We say private collection, because all of the 70-odd vehicles in the Land Cruiser Heritage Museum are owned by Greg Miller, who, as part of the Miller family, has a long history in the automotive industry in the USA and currently owns and operates a Toyota dealership in California. But Greg’s family harks back to Utah, and that’s where he houses his collection.
Thankfully, the museum is open to the public on most days and caters to groups who can be guided around the collection by one of the knowledgeable curators. On the day 4X4 Australia dropped in, Cruiser Dan was staying back to facilitate our visit.
With more than 35 years working in the Toyota parts business at Miller-owned dealerships, Dan knows the history of all the vehicles in the collection. He pointed out that while most of the Cruisers housed in the museum are owned by Greg, there is one that isn’t. That’s an LC FJ40 owned by Greg’s brother.
We knew we found the right place when we spotted the BJ74 Land Cruiser parked out the front of the nondescript warehouse just off the interstate. That vehicle is Dan’s own daily driver and is considered rare in the USA, where the 70 Series was never sold.
There are 40 Series in every colour, oddball mini-Cruisers, a Prado or two, a rare PX10, a Mega Cruiser, and a few rock-crawler-style modified 40s. Cruisers from the USA, Japan, South America, Australia and elsewhere can be found among the collection, and there’s even a VDJ78 Troopy that has been driven on all seven continents as part of the Expeditions 7 trip.
While a mid-wheelbase 73 used as an outside broadcast vehicle (for television) in Japan, is a time capsule preserved as it was the day it finished work.
Notably absent was a late model 200 Series and a soft-top Bundera; although, the collection is always growing. In fact, a Toyota BJT had just been purchased by Greg and was about to be shipped from Australia to Utah shortly after we photographed it in Adelaide.
Whether you’re a Land Cruiser fan or not, or whether you prefer 4x4s or classic cars, the Land Cruiser Heritage Museum should definitely be on your to-do list if you’re visiting the USA. Utah is also the home of the off road-Mecca, Moab, and there are other great 4x4 areas closer to the museum to explore to make this visit a 4x4 trip to remember.
The Land Cruiser Heritage Museum is at 470 West 600 South in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
For more details, or to make sure it’s open if you’re planning a visit, go to: www.landcruiserhm.com