The Land Cruiser is an iconic model for Toyota and has been
part of New Zealand's forestry, farming and off-road heritage for
nearly six decades.
As a key part of its celebrations, Toyota is challenging
television presenter Marc Ellis to drive a new FJ Cruiser, which is
unashamedly a tribute to the original FJ40, from Cape Reinga to
Bluff - entirely off tar sealed roads.
The adventure dubbed 'Top to Bottom - Off road' is a tribute to
the legacy Land Cruisers have forged after 60 years, says Neeraj
Lala, Toyota's Assistant General Manager of Marketing and
"In many ways, this trip reflects the celebrated Kiwi spirit of
giving things a go. Toyota believes 'if you dream it, you can do
it', and we'd like New Zealanders the length of the country to help
us make the dream a reality."
"Perhaps they can open up a private track or suggest a secret
route the vehicles can use to avoid a road, offer a splash of
petrol if things get tight in the back country, or they might just
like to invite some weary travelers in for a hot cuppa."
Ellis will set off down Ninety Mile Beach on 21 February.
Meeting up with the intrepid travelers at points along the way will
be a fully restored Kiwi classic - a late 1970s FJ40 Land Cruiser
which Toyota bought from a customer after a long search for the
classic and will give away to someone who helps the team achieve
"It's quite fitting for the new FJ Cruiser, which un-mistakenly
descends from some of the most iconic Land Cruiser models, to be
the vehicle to attempt this epic journey," says Neeraj Lala.
Toyota expects the team to take 16 days of driving to reach the
southern tip of New Zealand, via seven checkpoints. Ellis is set to
meet national and local legends on the way.
Ellis has been challenged to only use back country roads, farm
trails and tracks. If he wants to go on tar seal he has to earn
credits to do so by meeting further challenges.
The vehicles will head south on the North Island's western side
as far as Taranaki, traverse the island to Hawke's Bay, and on to
the South Island via Wellington. From Picton, the FJ Cruiser will
go through the centre of the South Island high country and the
heart of Otago.
The old FJ40 was restored at Toyota's Signature Class facility
at Thames. Neeraj Lala says Toyota's specialists normally only
refurbish late-model cars for the premium used car market.
"In the spirit of this trip, we asked our team in Thames for a
favour. They jumped at the chance to turn their expertise in paint,
panel and mechanical servicing to totally retransform the 1970s
FJ40 into a near new vehicle once again."
The adventure team looks forward to saying 'gidday' to the
public at the seven checkpoints (see below). To follow daily
podcasts from the road and to offer Marc help on his journey please
visit www.toptobottom.co.nz. Listen for details on ZM stations
nationwide, and watch Marc's progress on TVNZ Breakfast.
For more information on the FJ Cruiser, please contact:
Neeraj Lala, Toyota New Zealand Assistant General Manager
Marketing and Product, on (06) 350 3521,or 029 223 7105.
Top to Bottom, Off Road itinerary
Start: Cape Reinga - Monday, 21 February
1. Auckland, 22 February (Giltrap City Toyota, Grey Lynn)
2. New Plymouth, 24 February (Tasman Toyota)
3. Hawke's Bay, 28 February (Hawke's Bay Toyota)
4. Wellington, 2 March (Rutherford & Bond Toyota)
5. Christchurch, 4 March (Miles Toyota)
6. Dunedin, 6 March (Cooke Howlison Toyota)
7. Invercargill, 8 March (GWD Toyota) following journey to
There will also be an open day at Toyota's Palmerston North
headquarters on 26 February.
Evolution of an icon
The Toyota Land Cruiser legend began with the development of
the 'Jeep' BJ in 1951, which entered full production in 1953. The
name Land Cruiser was coined by a Toyota technical director, Hanji
Umehara in 1954.