The Crown was the range topper of the Toyota line up and one of the longest lived lines in the range. In many Asian countries the car had built a reputation of being the choice car for both successful businessmen and taxi cabs. The very first exports to the states resulted in the cars not coping well with the long road journeys, which forced Toyota to return to the development stage. However the lesson was learned and the template for durability and quality for all future Toyotas was set with the new generation of 50’s Toyotas. The main attributes that attracted the Crown to UK buyers, was the value for money offered in terms of equipment.
Fortunately such issues had long been ironed out by the time the first Crown (RS50) arrived in the UK in mid 1968. Initial imports started with the 2.3 litre saloon, with the estate version following later in the year. Coupe version were never imported. Along with the similar Datsun 2000 130 models, the Japanese take on a large executive car with pseudo luxury aspirations was based on American concepts for a conservative Japanese home market, which may explain why they were generally not a huge seller in Europe.
The 2nd generation of Crown to arrive in the UK, came during a period of many new Japanese car launches. The RS60 Crown was novel in its styling, featuring a very distinctive bonnet mounted indicator earning the nickname of ‘hockey stick’. Unlike the previous models, all body options were imported, including, for the first and only time a coupe. The estate was by now a staple model in the UK Crown line up, and provided a useful carry all for larger families looking for an alternative to the Volvos and Peugeots that were offered. As before the car had many elements borrowed from American designs, including a huge array of standard features. While they offered a desirable experience for the passenger, the old fashion seperate ladder frame chassis didn’t make it a drivers car, but what it lacked in character it made up for it in road presence. Like all Japanese cars of period, each model year was marked by subtle exterior trim, grills, dashboards and hubcaps differences.
The replacement for the relatively curvy S60 models arrived in 1975, again pointing towards a new direction in Toyota design. Similar to the 2000/Corona (RT100) model, the car was now styled in a more angular fashion, visually re-inforcing the American influences. As before the car was huge success in Japan and the far east, with yet another indifferent reception in the Europe. The coupe was not imported into the UK, but the estate and saloon continued to maintain the estimated 500 UK sales a year. Typically the cars were very well equipped, some version offered air conditioning as standard, ice boxes and full electric windows. However by the time the S80 model ended production in 1979, the range looked very old fashioned next to the range of able executive cars being produced in Europe yet there was still a small demand for these tough conventional machines.
The replacement models, the S110 series followed the same format as the previous generations, only available now as 4 door saloon. A small loyal following of owners would probably upgrade to this model, attracted to the build quality, equipment, comfort and ride. The styling was still influenced heavily by that by the American school of design but still had a trickle admirers in Europe, however by this time UK sales had been in the low hundreds. The range was dropped in the UK in 1983, with the smaller Camry appealing to those looking for a well finished luxury 3 box saloon.
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