There are voices on the internet talking about how many sides of the collector car market have started to show signs of decceleration following the furious climb of the past few years. Well, don’t bet on that if a Toyota FJ Cruiser is what you seek, since an example of the Japanese SUV recently became the first to trade hands for a six-figure sum. So, what does this mean?
The vehicle in question is a 2014—the final year on the U.S. market—Trail Teams Ultimate Edition that showed 245 miles on its odometer and had never been registered.
It sold for a whopping $108,000 on Bring a Trailer, going from the new car side of a Tennessee Toyota dealer straight into the garage of a female collector—nicknamed headbean1, the woman had been hunting FJ Cruisers on BAT prior to entering this auction.
And while the bid on some of her previous auctions were hefty but not winners, she brought the record sale home with a massive jump when it seemed that things would end in the high-$70k range.
Sure, her $103,000 bid doesn’t need any explanation, but we’ll go ahead and remind you that the vehicle, had come with a sticker price of $39,753-while it packs the five-speed auto rather than the six-speed manual, it does come with the optional AWD.
And that original figure was already seriously higher than the sub-$30k starting price the FJ Cruiser had back in the day. The premium was dictated by the off-roading equipment, the limited numbers and the distinct colors (one per year) of the said edition, whose year also placed this above all the other Trail Teams Editions.
The quirk machine that is the FJ Cruiser
Even in Toyota’s SUV-loaded range, the FJ40 sticks out like a sore thumb (tiny suicide doors and all). Back in 2006 when this thing entered production, the Jeep Wrangler ruled this part of the market alone, as the world had yet to regain the kind of retro-inspired off-roader lover that determined Ford to revive the Bronco in recent years.
The naturally aspirated 4.0L V6 provides respectable power (think: between 239 and 260 hp). However, the engine or the on-road manners offered by the shortened 4Runner platform of the vehicle are nothing to write home about (unless it’s massaged to 1,000 hp in Ken Gushi’s GR86 Formula Drift car). Instead, the focus is placed on the old-school looks, a nod to the original FJ40 Land Cruiser, as well as on the mighty serious rugged terrain capability of the machine.
The implications of the record sale
As you can imagine, the said dealer wasn’t the only one keeping one of these special Fj Cruisers in the vault. So you expect that the six-figure adventure is now an ongoing affair.
And if you’re thinking that all those people who put tons of miles on their Fj Cruisers, many of which were done on the trails where this vehicle belongs, are now looking at their cars in a different light, you’re right—the comments section on the BAT listing confirms this.
Zooming in even further, Toyota still sells the FJ Cruiser in the Middle East. And a brief search shows this kicks off at AED 156,900 ($42,715 at the current exchange rates) in Dubai. And while we’re not importation or legal experts, there might be some people looking into it this very moment.
An electric revival is highly probable
More importantly, the FJ Cruiser crossing the $100,000 border should be yet another argument for a revival. And anybody who opens the news these days knows that, if Toyota is to bring back the machine, it will do it in EV form.
In fact, the Japanese carmaker has already introduced a smaller concept whose design resembles the FJ Cruiser as part of the 15-concept EV offensive of last December.
Dubbed Compact Cruiser, the concept, already made headlines on its own this year, when it grabbed the 2022 Car Design Award for concept vehicles, a distinction coming from Milan’s Auto&Design magazine. And you can check it out in the Facebook post below (while most of the images are renderings, the final one, portraying the vehicle in blue, makes for a real-world pic.
And while Toyota intends to build most of the said concepts—under its own and the Lexus brand—the carmaker has yet to name the Compact Cruiser specifically. Nevertheless, with the smaller footprint making this an off-roader doubling as a city car (or is it the other way around?), a production version seems likely, so the adorable machine could land as year as next year (2024MY).