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Toyota Landcruiser Celebrates Snowy Mountains Anniversary

22 January, 1999

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Australia's most successful four wheel drive, which first established its reputation on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, is now to celebrate the Snowy's 50th anniversary.

Toyota LandCruiser, Australia's largest selling four wheel drive, has become a major sponsor of the SMHA celebration.

More than 390,000 LandCruisers have been sold since the vehicle's first appearance on the Snowy Mountains construction in 1959.

Sir Leslie Thiess, head of Thiess Constructions, was impressed by a privately imported LandCruiser working on his Tumut Ponds site.

Thiess, a constructor and coal miner,made a point of visiting Toyota president Eiji Toyoda when next in Japan and secured the Australian franchise.

He imported an initial shipment of 13 vehicles, most of which worked on the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

The early LandCruisers established a reputation for reliability and toughness which made them a natural choice for commercial work in difficult terrain.

LandCruiser availability with parts and service support made development of Australia's remote mining areas more feasible in the 1960s and 1970s.

Toyota today sells more than 50 percent of its LandCruisers each year into the construction, mining and farming segments.

"The Snowy Mountains Scheme and LandCruiser are linked in history," Toyota senior executive vice-president John Conomos said.

"LandCruiser played an important role in the Australian construction activity on the Hydro-Electric scheme.

"It helped Les Thiess prove the efficiency of his local construction company against strong international competition."

Toyota has been four wheel drive market leader in Australia for more than 25 years.

This year it has accounted for more than 35 percent of an all time record delivery of 124,000 four wheel drives to the end of November.

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