The Classic Toyota Landcruiser – the FJ40
One of the most sturdy vehicles on Bali’s roads is the FJ40 series Toyota Landcruiser. These were first imported into Indonesia in the early 1960’s and, for a while, was the vehicle of choice for those seeking to drive around Bali. Their three forward gears and one reverse may seem to be too few but they also had selectors for high and low speed four wheel drive. The original Type 40 was first introduced to market in 1960 and by 1965 Toyota had sold 50,000 units; by 1973 this had reached 300,000, many of which were bought by Indonesians seeking to traverse the myriad rural tracks between villages. They were also very popular with all branches of the Indonesian military due to their ‘go anywhere’ attitude and their simple engineering and ease of repair.
In low ratio four wheel drive one can set the engine on tick over, set the steering wheel in the desired direction and jump out to walk alongside. This is very amusing for those with a child-like outlook!
Some Bali villa rentals still have Type 40’s as the vehicle for their staff to make deliveries and haul building materials. They are built on a sturdy chassis with a pickup body bolted on top. Sometimes these are complemented with a hard top and sometimes just used as a simple pickup –without doors or roof as the vehicle of choice for adventurous surfers seeking to reach off road locations.
Most villas in Bali were built in recent years but often a Toyota Landcruiser is used as a site-visit vehicle when roads have not yet been fully finished. So long as they are driven properly, they will reach most locations and can climb steep slopes and muddy terrain.
The experience of driving a FJ40 is somewhat ‘agricultural’ and the powerful drive train communicate an impression of great power to the driver. In 1941, when the Japanese occupied The Philippines, they found an American Bantam ‘buggy’ and sent it back to Japan for deconstruction. The Japanese government ordered Toyota to mass produce vehicles with the same or better capabilities but with a non-American body shape. The Toyota Landcruiser was born from these beginnings in 1950 and the US Army ordered 100 for the Korean War.
Often visitors to villas in Bali will see very fancy modifications of the FJ40, sometimes outfitted with chrome and highly polished bodywork in concourse condition while others are outfitted as monster trucks with unfeasibly large wheels and a ladder to gain entry. Bali villa rentals don’t usually come equipped with FJ40’s anymore but if you try really hard you can find them to rent for an exciting taste of days gone by.