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Cars you didn't know you want: Toyota Mega Cruiser

A military-spec off-roader produced in limited numbers for the general public.

It’s arguably the rarest Toyota ever, just 133 of the military-spec heavy-duty Toyota Mega Cruiser sold to civilians. For context, Toyota’s halo sports car, the iconic 2000GT, saw a production run of 351 from 1967-69. So in terms of cars available to you and me, the Mega Cruiser is the rarest Toyota to ever grace public roads and highways.

Toyota never intended the hulking, Hummer-esque, SUV to see public life. Instead, from its initial production in 1995, it was designed and built for military life, serving faithfully in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces as well as various emergency services including joining the fleets of rescue and ambulance services and the Japan Auto Federation (JAF).

The Mega Cruiser was a rugged SUV, off-road capable and according to Toyota ‘designed to cover extremely rough terrain’. Under the bonnet lay Toyota’s 4.1-litre inline four cylinder turbo-diesel (Internal code FB-FTE), making 114kW and 382Nm (peak torque tellingly on song as low as 1800rpm). That was paired with an Aisin-sourced four-speed automatic with a two-speed centre diff-lock sending drive to all four wheels permanently.

Dimensionally, it lived up to its ‘Mega’ badge, measuring in 5090mm long with a wheelbase of 3930mm. It stood 2105mm high and a not inconsiderable 2170mm wide.

There was room for six people while it could also lug 750kg of cargo. Ground clearance was rated at 420mm, thanks largely to 37-inch tyres.

Ventilated disc brakes all ’round provided stopping power while the Mega Cruiser rode on a torsion beam suspensions set-up, with double wishbones at every corner. Additional off-road smarts included a torque-sensing limited slip diff (Torsen LSD) with front and rear locks as well as four-wheel steering.

The similarities to the original military-spec H1 Hummer are probably not coincidental, but it should be noted the Mega Cruiser dwarfed its American counterpart, in terms of length measuring around 125mm longer. The Hummer sat slightly wider and taller on the road, however. Where the Mega Cruiser eclipses the Hummer is in weight, the beefy American tipping the scales at around 3400kg, the Mega Cruiser a positively svelte 2900kg by comparison.

Toyota built around 3000 Mega Cruisers for military use (model designation BXD10) where they were used primarily to transport infantry. Additionally, Toyota produced the Mega Cruiser for the general public. Those models (designated BXD20) were only sold in Japan and only through official Toyota Store locations.

They reportedly cost the equivalent of around AUD$132,000 when new. In 1995. That’s around $235,000 in today’s money. Not cheap then.

Of course, being scarce, coming across one today is no easy feat. One Japanese specialist has four for ex-military Mega Cruisers sale for a relatively affordable AUD$48,000. The catch? They’ve been dismantled. Bring your own toolkit.

Securing one of the much rarer BXD20 Mega Cruisers produced for civilian life will empty your bank account to the tune of around AUD$118,000 according to another listing we found in Japan.

Toyota ceased production of the Mega Cruiser in 2001, thus ensuring its gargantuan off-roader entered the annals of Toyota history as the rarest civilian production vehicle in its long and storied history.

MORE: Everything Toyota

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