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TOYOTA: Millennium makeover for workhorse

New life: The 78 Series LandCruiser is the off-roader for those who prefer tough over trendy.

The old man of the Australian automotive industry has undergone another life-extending re-launch

21 Oct 1999

IT seems somehow appropriate that as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Snowy Mountains scheme, Toyota Australia should release the 78 Series LandCruiser range. The original LandCruiser came to Australia in 1958 to work on the Snowy and, although the 78 Series is not exactly the same vehicle, it is clearly rooted in the past.

The box-shaped 78 Series has nothing to do with the more popular 100 Series LandCruiser which is now the darling of the urban off- road set.

This is a vehicle which was born two decades ago and survives as a no-frills multi-purpose vehicle for mainly tradesmen and farmers who prefer tough to trendy.

But the 78 Series is much more than just a facelift.

Toyota has given all four models in the 78 Series new suspension, adopting the front end of the 100 Series with its coil spring and rigid axle set-up while adding longer leaf springs at the rear.

At the same time, the track and wheelbase have been extended for improved ride and stability.

In the case of the popular single cab models, the wheelbase has been extended by 200mm to 3180mm while the cab itself has also been lengthened - by 120mm - and is now fully welded for extra safety and durability.

Taking the front suspension from the 100 Series has also resulted in better braking ability because the package includes bigger front disc brakes with four-spot callipers.

While old-fashioned style and durability may have been welcomed by workhorse LandCruiser customers, lack of comfort was obviously a problem because, in addition to the suspension and chassis changes, the front seats are all new in the 78 Series.

The interior itself has been further revised with new instruments, linings and floor coverings.

Toyota has made improvements to both diesel and petrol engines while the diesel is now matched to the manual transmission from the 100 Series.

Prices for the 78 Series LandCruiser range from $45,100 for the three-seat Cab/Chassis with petrol engine to $53,000 for the 11- seat diesel engined TroopCarrier.

Other models in the range are the RV TroopCarrier and Utility.

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