1941 - The Japanese government tasked Toyota to produce a light truck for their military campaign. Toyota developed a prototype, the 2-ton AK10 in 1942. It was not a success and the production run went to Nissan instead. There are no known surviving photographs of the AK10. The only known pictorial representations are some rough sketches.
1951 - The BJ prototype is born in January 1951 called the 'Toyota Jeep'. Like the British Landrover Series 1 that appeared in 1949, it has a strong resemblance to the American World War II Willys Jeep. The BJ was somewhat bigger than the Jeep, and considerably more powerful thanks to its 2.2 L four-cylinder L-head engine generating 61 kW at 3000 rpm and 215 N·m at 1600 rpm. The BJ had a part-time four wheel drive system like the Jeep. Unlike the Jeep however, the BJ had no low-range transfer case, making do with an extra-low first gear with a 5.53:1 ratio.
1953 - Full-volume production of the BJ began with assembly undertaken at the Toyota Automatic Loom Works Ltd.
1954 - The Land Cruiser name was born. The manufacturer of the Jeep, Willys-Overland, objects to Toyota's use of the name 'Jeep', as the BJ was referred to as the 'Toyota Jeep'. Toyota apparently believed that 'Jeep' was a generic name for a four wheel drive vehicle. Technical director Hanji Umehara pondered over a new name. "In England we had another competitor - Land Rover. I had to come up with a name for our car that would not sound less dignified than those of our competitors. That is why I decided to call it 'Land Cruiser'," he recalls in an interview with South African Car Magazine.