Old-school Toyotas have always held a big place in the hearts of Filipino car guys, thanks in part to Toyota’s status as one of the most successful car manufacturers in the country. Its varied lineup has always something for everyone, like the Land Cruiser FJ40 for avid off-roaders, or the Supra for pursuers of speed. But if comfort and luxury took top priority, then the Toyota Crown is what old-school Toyota fans would want.
Introduced in 1955 as the carmaker's premier sedan for the Japanese market, it holds the distinction of being the longest-running nameplate affixed to any of the brand's passenger cars, in addition to being the first Toyota vehicle to be exported to the US.
The Crown has served all manner of customers, from government officials, taxi companies, and even the Japanese police force. Its history and reputation have earned it the right to be recognized as one of the company's most successful vehicles, such that some succeeding sedans have been named after it—for instance, the Corona ('crown' in Latin) and the Camry (from the Japanese word 'kanmuri,' meaning 'little crown'). Sadly, the Crown is no longer sold in the Philippines.
The Crown we're featuring on these pages is a 1969 model belonging to Alfred Perez of Alfred's Motor Works. He got this car a few years back from a man who had come across his shop while trying to sell a pair of Toyota Crowns. Alfred was originally only interested in buying one of the Crowns, but after some negotiations, he ended up with two.
He decided to sell the second car, but not before pulling out all the good bits and transferring them onto the first. He has only given his unit a new wash of paint since then. As part of the shop's collection, however, the Crown will likely be fully restored and entered into various car shows.
Almost 50 years after rolling off the factory floor, the car is still quite the beauty. With its polished hubcaps, classic lines, and trademark crown emblem on the grille, it still has enough style to get heads turning and people talking. Like the exterior, the cabin has all sorts of features that catch your attention. The rear embodies vintage Japanese luxury, with a rear ashtray mounted behind the front seat, individual passenger lights, leather seats, and air-conditioning vents that are positioned behind the occupants' heads.
Up front is arguably the most interesting feature of the Crown: The front bench seat. It’s a nice addition you'd be hard-pressed to find one in today’s sedans. It's perfect for cuddling up to your loved one while driving, squeezing another friend into the front, or just lying down flat.
Though the Crown may pale in comparison to today's sometimes outlandish luxury offerings, there's no denying that it delivers all you could really want in a luxury vehicle: ample space, comfortable seats, all-around air-conditioning, and features that aren't really necessary but nice to have, anyway.
Note: This article originally appeared in Top Gear Philippines' September 2017 issue.