Curbside Classic: Vintage Toyota Mother Lode, Part One

Old Toyotas 4

When most people mention a classic Toyota, something from the Seventies, like the Celica, probably comes to mind. Those with thicker wallets might even think of the fantastic 2000GT. Most of the earliest Toyotas on these shores were a bit more mundane and certainly are less visible today. So let’s check out what has to be one of the bigger caches of vintage Toyotas, all owned by a well-known collector whose family also owns the Toyota dealership where these cars are located. In today’s installment, we’ll have a look at the crown jewels inside the outdoor storage area.

Toyota Crown

First up is this third-generation Toyota Crown. Made between 1967 and 1971, I’d peg this Crown as either a 1968 or 1969 model. Crowns were available with either four- or six-cylinder power and a various manual or automatic gearboxes. As a bigger car for the North American market, I’d say there is a good chance this one has the 2M six with the automatic. It looks quite solid, and one has to wonder if with some new fluids, a fresh battery and some air in the tires, if it could be driven away.

Toyota 700

Sitting next to the Crown is something a little smaller, a Toyota 700. Known as the Publica in some markets, the 700 and the aforementioned Crown were the first Toyotas offered to Canadians, starting in 1965. Advertised then as Canada’s lowest-priced car with an automatic transmission, the standard 700 started at $1,798. The Deluxe model, while still pretty spartan, added such features as a heater. While front-wheel drive was flirted with in the development stages, the 700 stuck with the tried-and-tested front engine/rear-wheel drive layout. The engine is a 697cc air-cooled, two-cylinder engine hooked to a two-speed automatic.

Old Toyota

Moving along and further back in time, we come to a very rough shell from what I believe was an early Toyopet/Toyota Crown. The same collection also includes a nicely restored 1960 Toyopet Crown Custom, so this could have been a companion parts car. The first-generation RS series Crown was built from 1955-1962, and featured very rugged construction and four-cylinder power. More suited to Japan’s then undeveloped roads than American style highways, contemporary reviews complained about its lack of sophistication and pace.

Old Toyotas

Anyone bored of Crowns yet? I hope not, since here are a few more. The white one on the right is another 1968-1969 model. The black one is another third-generation example, this time a face-lifted 1970 or 1971. The bumper is a little crusty, but the rest looks very solid. In the middle of this Crown sandwich is a T40 series Corona, likely of late-1960s vintage. Available only with four-cylinder power, the Corona was a size smaller and a notch downmarket from the Crown.

1965-1967 Toyota Crown

One last Crown, I swear! The one on the right is a second-generation model that was along with the 700 part of Toyota’s initial Canadian lineup. I don’t know this car’s exact model year, bit it’s likely in the 1965-1967 range. This one has a truck bed liner resting on top, so either it has a leak or has been relegated to storage-shelf status–which would be a shame, given its rarity. While the styling isn’t quite as distinct as the third-generation Crown (the white car next to it), the grille has a bit of a Chrysler vibe to it.


I’ll leave you with one last look at most of the entire row. If you could pick one to adopt, which would it be? Speaking for myself, that red Crown would be an easy first choice.