The JDM Hummer: How the Toyota Mega Cruiser Made the Land Cruiser Look Tiny
When it comes to Toyota 4x4s, the legendary Land Cruiser is usually considered the king, with a long track record of toughness and adoring fans across the world—but did you know during the 1990s Toyota built another 4x4 that made look the Land Cruiser look like a puny little crossover in comparison. That’s right, we are talking about the Toyota Mega Cruiser.
One look at the Mega Cruiser and its quite clear where Toyota’s inspiration came from when designing this thing—the Hummer H1. And like the Hummer it was inspired by, the Mega Cruiser was designed primarily for military use but a very small number were eventually sold for civilian use.
The Genesis of the Mega Cruiser
The Mega Cruiser first appeared at the 1993 Tokyo Motor Show, with its primary customer being the Japanese Self Defense Force. Like the Hummer, the Japanese military would use the Mega Cruiser as an all purpose troop transport capable of traversing any terrain and reaching extremely isolated areas.
It had full-time four-wheel drive, double wishbone suspension and torsion bar suspension, front and rear limited slip differentials and in-board brakes. It also had four-wheel steering to make the massive vehicle a little easier to navigate.
Power came from a 4.1L turbodiesel four-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission and the Mega Cruiser tipped the scales at nearly 6,300 pounds.
Mega Cruiser production began in 1995 and lasted through 2001, with about 3,000 examples being built. The vast majority of these were used by the JSDF while others saw service from police departments and rescue operators to serve remote areas in Japan.
133 Mega Cruisers were sold for civilian use, and when you think about how small Japanese roads and parking lots can be it’s actually surprising there were that many private buyers that were willing to pay nearly $100,000 USD to buy one when new.
Given its rarity (particularly) in civilian trim, it’s safe to consider the Mega Cruiser a collector vehicle today. A search of Japan’s largest used car site shows just one example for sale at the moment, priced at about $200,000 USD.
That might be a lot of money, but if you’ve ever wanted to show up your friend who thinks their Landcruiser is the toughest Toyota around it’s a small price to pay.
There you have it. A quick history of one of the largest and rarest vehicles Toyota has ever built.
Long live the Mega Cruiser.
More From Driving Line
- Want to hear more about the history of Hummer? Check out our story here.