Quick – what’s the car you picture in your head when you hear the words “Land Cruiser?” That’s what I thought. It’s not bulbous, turret-topped blue beast up there with the rear suicide doors, is it? No, I bet it isn’t. And yet, the first Land Cruiser was just that, a post-war Studebaker luxury sedan. That one up there, parked in front of the house full of well-dressed people who like to loiter in the sun and stare at things.
This was the Land Cruiser you were thinking of, right?
The Toyota Land Cruiser didn’t actually appear until 1951, but Studebaker had been using that name since 1934. The 1947 one up there was actually pretty revolutionary, the first American post-war car with an entirely new body design, making the Big Three crap their pants and realize they needed to get back into the post-war game. As you can see in the picture, Studebaker was taking full advantage of the opening of America’s Strategic Carpet Reserves now made available thanks to the end of the war:
I’m not exactly sure what the mean by “black light” instrument-dial illumination; it seems that instrument markings were painted with a zinc sulfide paint that glowed, like a watch dial, along with purple-filtered light bulbs. Here’s some other features of the original Land Cruiser, told via ribbons:
Anyway, my goal with all of this is for someone to find one of these and show up at some Toyota Land Cruiser meet-up and see what happens. I bet they’d be delighted!