(first posted 4/12/2016) For almost every generation in its 61-year existence, the Toyota Crown has had styling that is best described as “generic Japanese luxury car”. One exception was the S60/S70 generation, manufactured from 1971 until 1974.
Whether wagon, sedan (S60) or coupe (S70), this generation of Crown has styling with swagger. This S60 sedan I photographed doesn’t even need its wild orange paint job to stand out. Check out the chrome detailing at the edge of the hood…
…the large, segmented taillights…
…and finally, the chrome C-pillar decoration. This is perhaps the S60’s weakest angle only because these sharp details could easily be pictured on an even larger sedan.
S50 and S80 Crowns
After the 1960s when neat, crisp designs dominated in the Japanese automotive industry, the 1970s was when some players became more confident. Datsun went further than the others in terms of outlandish designs, while Toyota’s designs followed a more gradual stylistic evolution. The S60/S70 Crown was the exception to that rule, looking little like its blocky predecessor and also dissimilar to its blocky successor.
These S60 sedans measured 184.3 inches in length with a 105.9 inch wheelbase and 66.5 inches in width: in total, Toyota’s flagship Crown was a good 5-10 inches shorter in almost every dimension than a contemporary Dodge Dart.
Although in Australia we missed out on the Mustang-esque coupe and dashing wagon (covered by Don Andreina here), the sedan was assembled by AMI from CKD kits. In 1974, Toyota’s Aussie lineup consisted of (in ascending order by price) Corolla, Corona, Celica, Mark II and Crown. The flagship Crown retailed for just over $AUD 4,000, just a couple of hundred dollars shy of the larger Statesman by General Motors-Holden, pricier than the Mazda 929 and Chrysler Regal, but undercutting the Datsun 260C (Cedric) and anything by the Europeans. AMI also assembled some American Motors models from CKD kits, but the cheapest of that range – badged Rambler here – was the Hornet, priced a cool $700 above the Crown.
The Crown retained the previous generation’s 2.0 four and 2.0 and 2.2 sixes in many markets but new for the S60/S70-series was a 2.6 six mated to a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic. Although it was more powerful and more daringly styled than Crowns past, these were still plush, comfort-oriented sedans first and foremost and rode atop a separate chassis. The Crown SE featured additional courtesy lights, reclining seats and a self-seeking radio.
With even the wagon featuring spacey styling – a change from the usual contemporary practice of the Japanese designing mundane yet practical wagons – one must wonder what a ute would have looked like had Toyota continued this Australian-market body style into the S60 generation.
The S60 Crown sedan was a sales flop in North America and the last Crown to be sold there, but in Australia it appears to have sold to expectations. Japanese luxury sedans were still very much a niche product here, but Toyota continued to assemble the Crown in Australia up until 1987. Sadly, those final Aussie-assembled Crowns were plush yet utterly dreary boxes and had not an ounce of the S60 sedan’s flair.