The Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series, as with many of the other Series’ of Land Cruiser SUVs, came in two variants. The luxury VX, and the more utilitarian, but some say more off-road capable, GX. Of course some market got a cross between them in the GXL, but mostly these were the two variants.
Officially though, Toyota though the difference of the two variants large enough to give them each their own Series denomination, with the VX being the 100 Series, and the GX being the 105 Series. The main and probably most important difference between the two, technically speaking, is the fact that the 100 Series has the Independent Front Suspension (IFS) axle system, and the 105 Series, has a Solid Front Axle (SFA). This is the main technical difference which is of importance to serious offroaders and overlanders. To everyday folk, they small creature comforts and added interior features are what matters most, but more on those later.
The 100 Series features a IFS axle, working with torsion bars to provide the springing on the front. The rear still has a solid axle with coil springs. Some of the fancier and later year model variants also had an air-suspension system which feature airbags on top of the shocks, which allowed the vehicle to be raised or lowered on demand with the turn of a switch inside the cabin.
The engine options that were available for the 100 Series was the now legendary 1HD-FTE 4.2 liter Turbo Diesel, and the 3UZ-FE 4.7 liter V8 normally aspirated petrol, both of these mated to an automatic transmission.
Interior wise, the 100 Series was mostly offered with leather seats and a burr wood dash trim from the factory, and had the standard 5 seater configuration, as well as an extra two jump-seats in the rear of the vehicle, totally a legal 7 seater passenger capacity.
The 105 Series came with a solid front axle, similar what was found on the 80 Series that this GX model officially superseded. The 105 Series ran on coil springs for the front and rear solid axles, and the axles were attached to the frame through control arms in the front, and a 4-link type control arm with track bar on the rear. This made the 105 Series notoriously capable on rough off-road terrain where axle articulation is required for traction and stability.
The engine options available on the 105 Series was the 1HZ (super reliable but donkey slow) 4.2 liter normally aspirated diesel engine, and the unbreakable torque monster 1FZ-FE 4.5 liter straight 6 normally aspirated petrol engine, both usually mated to a 5 speed manual transmission. In some markets the GXL 105 Series was also available with the 1HD-FTE 4.2 liter Turbo Diesel from the 100 Series, or the automatic transmission also(lucky bastards).
On the interior front, the 105 Series had a much more basic, utilitarian approach with cloth seats being standard, a black plastic trim dash, only 5 seater capacity, and very few of the creature comfort from the 100 Series. This on the other-hand is what carried much of it’s appeal with serious overlanders longing for as little electronic that could give problems as possible.
Frame / Chassis
The good thing about the whole Land Cruiser range from Toyota, is that you will find a lot of the same parts across the various models, often also being interchangeable between models. The front solid straight axle on the 105 series, was the same one that was found on the Land Cruiser 78 series Troop Carrier, with the same control arms and so forth. This commonality between models, leads many Land Cruiser fans to believe that the Solid Front Axle of the 105 Series, will easily fit on the 100 Series if the brackets for the control arms are welded to the frame of the 100 Series. This unfortunately is not the case, and the differences between the Land Cruiser 100 Series VX and the 105 Series GX are more when looking below the body, at frame level. They share exactly the same body shell from the same assembly line mounting at the exact same places as is evident on this comparison between the frame technical drawings below showing the body mounting locations and distances:
You will however notice that the designs of the frame or chassis of the two model differ quite a bit, with the Land Cruiser 100 VX model’s frame rails being wider than that of the Land Cruiser 105 from the rear wheels / axle forward, as can clearly be seen on this technical drawing of the same two frames below, but showing the measurements between the top of the frame rails:
Does this mean that the IFS front Land Cruiser 100 VX series cannot be converted to a SFA or straight axle in the front? Of course not, it is still very much possible, and as many custom Toyota Land Cruiser fanatics in the US have shown, just requires a little more planning and ingenuity in designing and adapting the front suspension linkage to mount the solid front axle in there, with most opting for a 3-link type setup. The reason why this conversion is even a consideration, especially to the folks in the United States, is because Toyota never sold the straight axle Land Cruiser 105 version in the US as they did alongside the Land Cruiser 100 VX in other markets like Australia, South Africa and the UAE.