Last year I found this car parked on a small residential street opposite a park in an old part of town just a metaphorical stone’s throw from where it was built at the Australian Motor Industries Port Melbourne factory (a story for another day!). The black-and-white registration plates are the correct era for the car, so it is quite likely the car still has its original owner. The car seems to be in pretty sound condition, apart from the large dent in the rear quarter panel and the missing hub cap.
The Crown was one of the last Japanese cars built on a separate chassis, although it is a little unusual in that the main rails are in 3 sections. The car has an overhead cam 2.6-litre inline six-cylinder engine making 138 hp, and a 3-speed automatic. The emphasis was most definitely on smoothness, silence and comfort over anything so vulgar as performance or handling.
Sounds just like many American cars, right, but it is smaller than most and possibly smaller than it looks at just 185” long on a 106” wheelbase, and just exceeds the de-facto Japanese 66.5” (1.7m) width ‘limit’ thanks to the wheel arch lips. Curb weight was around 3500 lb.
In Australia the Super Saloon was listed at $8,200 in 1975. By comparison you could buy a top trim level Holden Premier with a 308 V8 for $6,600.
A much larger Ford Fairlane was $9,250, while a Mercedes-Benz 280S cost an astounding $20,600! On the other hand a Corolla was yours for $3,300 or you could get a Leyland Mini for $2,925. Incidentally the base-model Crown SE manual was $5,000.
At this point I will admit to a lapse in my CC activities; I saw an absolutely perfect-condition, low-mileage version of this car a couple of weeks ago on my Christmas break. I even chatted with the owners, who I knew, and found out it had lead a very easy life until retirement into classic car status, but I neglected to take a photo! Never mind, here is a similar car (although a lower trim level) in the same mustard/camel colour as that car.
The 2.6-liter Crowns were a little over the 1,700mm width line, since the engines put them in the 3-number class anyway, but the width of the basic shell is still dictated by the lower limit, so the difference is in how far out the fenders are flared.
As I mentioned in the Supra article, the 150 hp rating is likely a Japanese gross figure (thus 150 PS/110 kW), and a DIN figure would probably be something in the 125–130 PS realm. Exactly why the Japanese industry clung to the gross ratings so long I surely don’t know — it’s very odd.
Thanks Aaron. Finding proper specs online for this car was pretty challenging, the ‘usual’ Australian sources simply don’t have details, one even listed the country of origin as Japan! I’ve seen another reference to 138 hp, 206Nm.
I think Australia changed to gross power outputs in 1976; as with the US this coincided with a significant change in emissions regulations to further reduce power output numbers at the time.
I remember these particularly in that yellow and brown colour com o (it was the ’70’s!). At the school I attended quite a few parents could be seen dropping off children in the mornings in these for a few years. Must say I like the look of the Fairlane!
Absolutely nothing wrong with yellow and brown. I can actually see in colour – shame modern car makers can’t.
These were sold in the U.S. as the 1st generation Cressida. Though in typical Japanese fashion, the Cressida in the U.S. didn’t have quite the same roofline….or so I seem to remember. We also got the Cressida as a station wagon.
Toyota also sold these as 2 door hardtops in some markets. I saw 1 or 2 while on duty in Japan, I’m not sure if the U.S. got the 2 door, or not.
Nissan introduced the 810 about the same time to the U.S. I’d rather own an 810.
I was going to say that these looked an awful lot like the Cressida sold in Canada from 1978-80. I used to stop at the local Toyota dealer when I first started high school (it was on the way) and check these things out, I really liked them thought they had very nice lines and were luxurious and well-finished inside.
Thats odd it looks nothing like the Cressida sold out here those came in 4door 2door coupe and wagon 4 and 6 cylinder engine options.
It may look somewhat similar, but it’s not the same as the Cressida, which is one size smaller.
This generation Crown was not sold in the US.
Oops, I stand corrected, this LOOKS like a Cressida….but ISN’T.
They may be a bit similar in style, but they’re a totally different car. It can be hard for people not used to “big” (ha!) seventies Japanese cars to grasp the differences in size between one model and another in an impossibly tightly-packed range – especially when there’s a common styling theme. But the unibody Cressida had nothing structural in common with the body-on-frame Crown.
My 71 Corona was screwed together by AMI as was my 73 MK2 Corona coupe and 74 MK2 Corona sedan the sedan shared the 4M engine and auto with the Crown good tough engines as far as I can tell I could tow a splitscreen Kombi on a two axle trailer at 100kmh without issue, and did several times, one of the hazards of knowing how to fix them I guess. These Crowns were quite an expensive car in their day but very well finished and better put together than the Holdens Valiants and Falcons of the era and more sophisticated mechanically, which led to many Holden engines being transplanted into OHC Toyotas local mechanics not being able to get their heads around the cam arrangement, I ran into a similar problem getting the Corona cylinder head skimmed and valve service done I was told by the garage who sent the head away for me they wouldnt reassemble the engine if I couldnt, not being a trained mechanic meself I had no problems and the car ran great.
From the many stories I hear of mechanics turning down work on atypical cars, they must be illiterate or something, for that’s what shop manuals are for. I’m a firm believer in Reading the Manual, sometimes one can learn something.
Or maybe they’re creatures of habit; the installer for our new clothes washer swapped the hot/cold hoses, despite clear markings, because the manufacturer had them reversed from normal (perhaps to prevent having to cross the hoses!).
I can’t imagine any mechanic transplanting the engine from a Brand X car into a Brand Y car, just because they couldn’t get it to run right. Although I’ve often wondered if mechanics get “in over their head” and bail themselves out by saying “you got a bad….whatever, and you gotta pop for a new engine”.
NSU Ro80’s were commonly retrofitted with a Ford V4 engine but that was a fairly special and unique situation (fiasco?) and not just something the local mechanic decided to do…
The proportions make this car look so much larger than it actually is in the first photo. Especially the rear overhang. Reading the dimensions and seeing front and rear views with street signs and other frames of reference made me realize how tiny it is. That’s 4 inches narrower and nearly as short as my Jetta, ostensibly a “compact”, albeit a larger one. It sure looks stately for its size.
It’s odd how “American-y” Toyota sedans of this era were – the Cressida always seemed like a parallel universe GM car. I don’t know if it was even available like this elsewhere in the world, but the ’80s version had a button-tufted leather interior that looks way more “Chrysler” than “Toyota”
It’s an unforgivable shame that the Crown was discontinued in the U.S.A. when it was. I believe this would’ve looked more attractive than the previous generation Toyota Crown.
Looking at the damaged rear quarter on the Crown, to me highlights the thin sheetmetal used by Japanese cars back then
I’m not saying this made the Toyota a bad car, But if that Fairlane and especially the Premier sustained the same hit, the damage may have been less severe looking.
I have always liked the idea of body on frame construction, something about a couple of steel rails underneath a car appeals to me.
Of course i know all about modern cars being so much safer but still….
Had one of these and LOVED it. Mine was 32 years old, avocado green and still completely silent and unvibratory at traffic lights. So much so when I first bought it I found myself continually turning the ignition key when the lights turned green. It was an SE, didn’t know the price gap to the Super Saloon was so big.