“Heavy is the head that wears a crown,” or so claimed Shakespeare in Henry IV Part 2. Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Toyota Crown may not imply such weighty obligations, but could this project wagon’s price still make it feel like it costs a king’s ransom?
Early in our marriage, my wife and I had a pair of older daily drivers—she, a third-generation Honda Civic hatchback, and I a 1969 MGB-GT. Somewhat absurdly, they were at opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to practicality, despite their similar sizes and hatchback layout.
Thinking about such things, If I were to meld both those cars together into a single, more modern medium, the result might be something like the 1999 BMW Z3 Coupé we looked at yesterday. It had the MGB’s sporting nature married to the Civic’s more practical squared-off roofline. Lacking that level of sentimentality, most of you commented that you liked the Z3 on its own merits, but few of you thought that it merited its $14,000 asking price. That resulted in a 66% No Dice loss, ensuring that the seller—who claimed was in no hurry to sell—will most likely see that wish fulfilled.
Okay, quick pop-quiz time. Ready? What’s Toyota’s longest-running nameplate? Bzzzt. Got your answer? If you said Land Cruiser you came in a close second. What we were looking for, however, was Crown, as in Toyota Crown, nee Toyopet Crown.
That name has been a staple of Toyota’s home-market fleet for more than sixty-five years. Despite having been around for that long, the Crown remains little known here the U.S. where many have never heard of, much less actually seen one in real life.
If you’re a fan of the German synth-pop band Alphaville (and honestly, why would you not be?) then you’re totally familiar with their 1984 hit, Big in Japan. The band could have easily been singing about the Toyota Crown since it has long been one of the bigger cars the company has even offered in its home market. It was the biggest car they sold here in the States too for the brief time Toyota thought it wise to bring them over.
The car debuted in 1955 as the Toyopet Crown and served as the company’s first export product to the United States. The second generation arrived in 1962 with styling that aligned with the recently introduced Corona (Oopsie) update that would become Toyota’s primary export profit maker during the ‘60s.
The Crown was made available in the U.S. in both sedan and wagon models, although other markets got Ranchero-style pickups and coupé editions. I guess we can be thankful we got any of them at all.
This 1966 Toyota Crown Custom wagon is a rare example to find here in the U.S. It has also obviously seen better days. This “big” wagon rides on a 105.9-inch wheelbase and stretches to 185-inches overall. This being a Japanese car from the ‘60s, it checks in at under 3,000 pounds.
Well, this one is likely a good bit under its factory weight seeing as it’s missing panes of glass in its greenhouse. Other missing parts here include some interior trim, some badging, and the fuel lines from either side of the mechanical pump.
That pump is bolted to the side of a 1897cc OHV 3R four-cylinder. In the Crown, that engine made 79 horsepower back in the day. Now, with the missing fuel lines and other issues, it’s not making much of anything except conversation.
The engine is mated to a three-speed manual with overdrive and that is manipulated via a three-on-the-tree gear lever. It doesn’t get much more fun than that. The column shift also allows for a relatively flat floor and three-across seating in both the first and second pews.
That back seat folds down in traditional fashion in case loading stuff is of more interest to you than loading people. The whole interior is as tired and worn out as you might expect from a car missing most of its window glass, but there’s some good stuff here (check out that cool gauge cluster). The upholstery appears original and features a very cool sixties pattern, along with a smokers lounge fitted to the back of the front bench which is a kitschy feature.
The exterior blue appears to be original but now carries a patina of age that some will find off-putting while others will dig. Much all of the trim is there, and the car is still wearing its original sixties California black plates although they’re also all kinds of beat to hell too. The original wheels seem to have been lost to time and so it rolls on a set of Toyota pickup alloys. At least it’s keeping it in the family.
The ad claims the odometer reads 60K and amazingly, that the car comes with a clear title. This is obviously a project—hell, it won’t even run under its own power at present—but that opens the door to all kinds of shenanigans.
You could restore this Crown to its original glory, or you could drop in some modern running gear and clear coat the patina to keep it as-is. You’ll need to find some glass for those windows, and the interior will need some work less you get lockjaw or hantavirus from driving it, but that’s all fun work, right?
The asking price to get that fun underway is $5,500, and it’s now time for you to weigh in on whether it’s worth that. What do you think, is that a fair price for this project Crown? Or, will that price keep you out of the royal family?
San Francisco Bay Area Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.
H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!
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