Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where I highlight fascinating cars I found walking around a town that is known for being bigger than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York.
It's rare that you see a car that's fully restored, not heavily modified in some heinous way, and yet somehow original. And I don't mean "original" in that the parts are all-original, because hey, parts wear out, but I mean in that the choice of car itself reflects true originality.
Every guy in America who hears the word "Chevy" thinks "I know, when I grow up I'll get a '57 Bel Air!" That's not to say the Bel Air isn't a fine choice. It's a gorgeous car, and whether restored or modified, it's still pretty swell. But if you want to be just slightly different, to just slightly stand out from the pack, to say "I have taste, and I don't buy what everyone else has because that's boring," to make a statement, well, you get a Toyota Land Cruiser. And this 1974 model is just gorgeous.
Now, I know what you may be thinking. Toyota Land Cruisers are a dime a dozen, they made millions of them, they're too utilitarian. The thing is though, because they were so utilitarian, and because they made so many of them, not very many exist anymore, at least not in good condition on the roads, at least not in the US. Sure, they made them in Brazil until 2001, but most Toyota J40s (as these are sometimes known) are from the 1970s at the latest. They were used and abused, taken off road and into the wilds of the world. I've been to many a classic car show, and you'll see plenty of Willys Jeeps and even a few Land Rover Defenders before you'll come across a Land Cruiser in good nick.
So to actually go out and pursue one requires some forethought. This particular example has the soft doors and top, but John, the owner of the vehicle, explained to me that it actually has a hard top as well stored away. Still, the soft openings, slight lift, new wheels and tires, and the winch in the front do a lot to add a little bit of a personal touch. And if you're going for taste, why not reflect a little bit of your own?