It’s getting hot and steamy in this part of Asia. Makes you wonder how folks managed before A/C became widespread. (By taking more showers, I suppose). I’m not sure when Toyota started including A/C in their prestigious Crowns, but by the time this decidedly unpretentious Crown Van came around, it was part of the standard package. How refreshing.
I’m glad I finally found one of these standing still and accessible. I’ve caught multiple examples of this Crown’s esteemed opposition, the Nissan Cedric / Gloria Y30 wagon, which is possibly more endearing due to its older-looking design. But the big Toyo wagon has its merits, especially in this type of blue-collar four-eyed spec.
It’s not easy to navigate the galaxy of Crown generations, variants and trim levels without getting lost, so let’s get our bearings. The S130 (a.k.a the eighth generation) was launched in 1987 as a hardtop, saloon and wagon. It was the last Crown to feature a full perimeter frame and also the last time all body variants simultaneously changed to a new generation. After the S130, things got complicated under Toyota’s oldest nameplate.
The hardtop moved to a new generation in 1991, becoming the S140. The Crown Majesta was created to give the V8 models even more exclusivity. But the BOF Crown S130 pillared saloon and wagon didn’t die, it just got a significant facelift and carried on. In 1995, the pillared saloon re-synched with the hardtop and switched to the S150 (10th gen) platform, while the Crown Comfort took over taxi duties, but the wagon still clung to the S130 until the eleventh-gen S170 platform arrived in 1999.
Another confusing piece of Toyota trim and nomenclature is the distinction between “van” and “wagon.” The latter is akin to a full-fledged sedan and aimed at private buyers, while the “van” is theoretically less ornate and geared towards fleet and commercial clients. But you could still get a nicely appointed van – it was the “Super Deluxe.” And the base-spec wagon was also “Super Deluxe,” it seems. But the two were different, of course: the wagon had body-coloured bumpers and composite headlamps, while the van had chrome bumpers and round quads. At least, I think that’s how you tell them apart.
The problem is that, try as one might, brochure scans and reliable English-language information on these is not easy to come by. When it comes to minutiae of trim levels and model year changes, Crown vans and wagons are tricky to work out. None of the scans I found show the van versions, for instance. It’s all about the sexy and expensive wagons. The scans above and below are from 1998 – the last full model year.
What is relatively clear is the type of engine one can expect to find in these cars. As far as I know, only three options were on the table for the long-roof Crown S130: the default was the 2-litre 135hp straight-6, but you could inch it up to the 2.5 litre JZ 6-cyl. for 180hp or, if economy was really the chief concern, the 2.4 litre 100hp 4-cyl. Diesel. All wagons kept the base S130 live rear axle of course, but automatic gearboxes were on the options list.
These cars are not so rare, so I went back to check out a similar one I had unearthed a while back and featured in one of my “T87 Singles” posts. This time, the area was virtually empty and I could venture a bit further into the parking garage to check this one out in a bit more detail. Call it comparative Crown studies.
The black wagon bore several similarities to its cream-coloured colleague. Quads and chrome bumpers, for a start. Same aftermarket wheels and tinted windows, too. And a look at the rear end showed that this was, indeed, the same Super Deluxe trim with the twin wipers. But where did those big rear extra taillights go?
It seems that these (rather superfluous) items, which attempt to dress up the tailgate a bit, are only absent on the lowest of trim levels for van – the “Standard” and “Deluxe” – but I could be wrong about that. The white car has them, but its sibling does not, so perhaps they were an optional extra for Super Deluxe vans? Maybe the black car’s owner decided to get rid of them when he resprayed his pride and joy. The white car looked as unrestored as a 25-year-old car sleeping outdoors can be.
Another discrepancy: the black van sported very nice chrome mirrors on its fenders, while the other car had similar units bolted to the doors. These are definitely not the mirrors either car had from the factory, and I suspect the white Crown had its fender-mounted one taken off at some point. It seems all post-facelift S130 Crowns had fenders with a hole for the mirror, but some were ordered with door mirrors, so the little hole-covers are easy to come by if one wished to convert one’s car to the other style.
I did not bother trying to push this comparative study to the interior – the black Crown was not in a very well-lit area. Here are the living quarters aboard the white wagon then. It’s not all doom and gloom inside an S130 Crown van, is it? Again, some brochure photos show a column shifter, even in the higher grades of the species. I guess, like the mirrors, that these preferences were left up to the individual buyer. The dashboard seems not to have evolved much, if at all, since this generation’s 1987 debut, save for the steering wheel and a few other details. This one seems not to have a driver-side airbag, but the very late model cars did.
When these S130 vans and wagons were made, the Crown was really Toyota’s jack-of-all-trades. At least four different cars were sharing the nameplate, from the humble 4-cyl. taxi to the CEO’s V8 Majesta. It’s almost like reverse badge-engineering: whereas GM sold you seventeen flavours of the same car under five brands, Toyota sold the JDM a smorgasbord of Crowns for different segments and uses. It took both GM and Toyota a while to climb back down from these respective excesses – one came crashing, the other merely introduced Lexus to Japan and quit making Crown wagons.
Well, they did have another generation of Crown wagons after this one, the S170. And I trust I’ll be in a position to regale you with that one in a little while. All in good time. But the last old-school body-on-frame Crown wagon was this S130 generation, so it has a special place in the hearts of aficionados here. And the air-con helps, too.