Toyota Crown

The Toyota Crown was one of the first Japanese cars to be sold in the United States. A mid-sized luxury car in a land where many buy cars by the pound (or horsepower), the Crown did not last long in the US, but it continues to be sold in Japan and some other local countries. There have, so far, been 12 generations, each with its own name.

1969 toyota crown

The first Crowns were sold as models of the Toyopet (Toyopet RS Crown). These were actually sold in America, as Toyopets, though they did not sell particularly well and were quickly withdrawn and replaced by a car engineered for the American market, the Tiara.

Early Crowns had the “R” line of four-cylinder engines, to be supplemented starting in 1966 with the “M” line of straight-six engines that lasted through 1992, when the J engines showed up.

There were four basic lines of R engines, the R, 3R, 3R-B, and 5R. The 48 hp R was 1.5 liters, the 3R was 1.9 liters, the the 5R 2.0 liters; the compression ratio was 8:1 on the 3R and 5R, 7.7:1 on the 3R-B. Both 3R and 5R made 95 hp and roughly 110 lb-ft of torque; the 3RB managed only 85 hp (at lower rpm) but the same torque (at lower rpm). 3R and 3RB used a 2 barrel carb, 5R a single barrel carb. We have no information on the original 1.5 liter engine.

This first-year Crown was 190 inches long, 66 inches wide, and weighted 2,755 pounds; Toyota claimed it could seat six. The Crown, therefore, was a bit smaller than the Valiant/Dart, which is to say smaller than what Americans thought of as a small car, but reasonably sized for just about any other market.

The first Japanese Crown with a six cylinder appeared in 1965. Producing 129 hp from a mere 2.0 liters (1988 cc), with an 8.8:1 compression ratio, this engine - the size of a typical four-cylinder, but a straight-six with 12 valves - was fed by twin SU type or twin down-draft carburetors depending on the application. As with nearly all engines of the time, they were chain-driven. This engine was designated MB with the SU carbs and MD with the downdrafts. It would last in this form until 1972 or so.

The first 2M engine appeared in 1966, with 2.3 liters or so (2253 cc) and the same compression ratio, but making 115 hp despite its larger size due to different carburetion.

The second series started out with the more powerful 3R-B engine and moved to the 3R engine later, with the 2M introduced in 1967. The Toyopet label was dropped in this series, making it the first real Toyota Crown. This model gained some praise from reviewers for its engine smoothness and its cornering, as well as its luxury features (quiet and smooth). The single-cam engine with semi-hemispherical heads gained praise, along with the unusual seven main bearings for strength and crossflow 12-port head. The power coming out of that little engine was quite unusual - it was nearly what the 3.7 liter Plymouth slant six engine produced, and that was a modern design. Sedan, pickup, and wagon versions were sold.

The first American Toyota Crown appeared in 1967 as a wagon or a sedan. It boasted a brand new 137.5 cubic inch in-line six-cylinder engine delivering 115 horsepower (gross) at 5,200 rpm, the same as the 170 cubic inch Plymouth slant six, and 127 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm (where the slant six delivered 155). The engine was small but built for durability with seven main bearings, tuned induction, semi-hemispherical heads, and lightweight alloy construction to make the most of its power (rather than having to drag around its own heavy weight). As with most cars of the time, it had a rear leaf-spring, solid-axle suspension; though the front suspension was more European (or AMC) style with coil springs.

The Crown came with a four-speed manual or a two-speed automatic (though most Americans were used to three speed automatics), for an extra $185. The manual was synchronized in all gears.

One unusual feature was standard three-point seat belts, not to mention reclining bucket seats. The Crown was never a big seller but it certainly did better than many foreign cars in the segment; the sedan sold for $2,635, the wagon for $2,785. (Torque was 127 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm, bore and stroke 2.95 x 3.35, 8.8:1 compression, single two-barrel carb. The Plymouth slant six started at 170 cubic inches by comparison, and delivered 115 hp with 155 lb-ft of torque; the 225 cubic inch slant six put out 145 hp, 215 lb-ft.) The Crown had a 106 inch wheelbase, similar to American economy cars, with a 182.5 inch length (except wagons) and 67 inch width; the Crown was fairly light, tipping the scales at 2,800 pounds, with the wagon at 2,965.

The 1968 Crown had a 105.9 inch wheelbase; the sedan’s 183.7 inch overall length was nearly as long as a Land Cruiser wagon but not quite as long as the Crown station wagon, which was the longest Toyota at 184.6 inches. Headroom was just 35.2 inches, while front legroom was 42 inches—less than the Corona, but possibly measured with the seat pulled forward (we don’t have rear headroom). The width was also greater than nearly any other Toyota, at 66.5 inches; only the Land Cruiser wagon was wider, at 68.3 inches. With all that said, the Plymouth Valiant was a few inches longer and wider, but not as well packaged, so that the Crown was likely more spacious.

In 1969, the Crown was “the most luxurious medium-sized, medium-priced car from Japan,” according to Toyota, which rated its top speed at 100 mph. “Considered by automotive experts as one of the finer cars in the world,” it weighed 2,890 pounds as a sedan and 3,069 pounds as a wagon, quite heavy by Toyota standards; it also carried Toyota's largest engine, the Land Cruiser's 137.5 cubic inch straight-six with seven mean bearings and a single overhead cam, producing 115 gross hp @ 5,200 rpm and 127 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600 rpm. The carburetor was two-barrel, the optional automatic three-speed, the manual four-speed and synchronized. The wheelbase was 105.9 inches, nearly 16 inches longer than the Corolla.

1969 toyota crown

The S50 Toyota Crown brought the two-door coupe; two six cylinder engines and one four cylinder were available along with a three speed automatic, three speed overdrive manual, and four-speed stick. The more luxury-looking S60, brought out in 1971, greatly changed the looks with an integrated bumper and other luxury styling cues. Again, reviewers liked the comfortable ride, smooth engines, clean looks, and mainly the quiet interior, though the handling and general feel were said to be not up to the level of predecessors (still quite good). The Crown in 1971 cost US$2,900, with the straight-six engine displacing 138 cubic inches and putting out 115 gross hp @ 5,200 rpm and 127 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm, the same as in 1967. The Crown retained drum rear brakes but boasted disc front brakes, and relatively large 6.95 x 14 tires. As in 1967 the wheelbase was 106 inches, length slightly longer at 184 inches, width 66.5 inches, and height 57 inches, with a total weight of 2,890 pounds. The price was similar to the Saab 96 and Datson 1600. David Ash called it a “posh...solidly engineered.”

In 1972, the MB and MD engines were dropped, all engines went from gross to net horsepower measurement, dropping the 2M from 115 to 109 hp. The 4M appeared with 2.6 liters, a lower 8.5:1 compression ratio, and 122 net hp, about the same as the MB. It would drop to 108 hp in 1975; the MU would appear in 1982, with 2.0 liters and 110 net hp.

In 1978, the 4M-E was added to the range, with 110 hp; it would be joined in 1979 by the 5M-E, with 116 hp, and the 5M, with 114 hp (both the 5M and 5M-E had a 2.8 liter displacement and 8.5:1 compression ratio). The 4M-E and 5M only lasted until 1970, when the M-TEU appeared - a turbocharged straight-six, without intercooler, producing 145 hp with a low 7.6:1 compression ratio. In 1983, an intercooler was added, changing the designation to M-TE and adding a full 15 horsepower.

A series of dual overhead cam engines squeezed out more power in the 1980s. These included the 5M, with 2.8 liters (2.76 liters, really), introduced in 1982 with 174 hp, boosted to 178 hp in 1983 (with higher compression), and then lowered to 160 hp in 1984 with the same compression ratio. The 6M, brought out in 1984, had 3 liters and 170 hp or 190 hp, with a 9.2:1 compression ratio, depending on configuration. Finally, the 7M, brought out in 1986 with three versions (190, 200, or, with intercooled turbo, 230 hp), stayed at about the same power range through 1992, when it had 234 hp.

Years Model Engine
1955-1962 RS/S30 1.5 / 1.9 l fours
1962-67 S40* 1.9 3R / 2.0 six
1967-71 S50 2.0 5R / 138 cid Six
1971-74 S60, S70 2.6 /138 cid Six
1974-79 S80, S100 2.0 / 2.6 / 2.2D
1979-83 S110 2.8 / 2.2D
1983-87 S120 2.8, 2.0, 2.0 Turbo, 2.4D, 2.4 TD
1987-91 S130 3.0, 2.0SC, 2.0, 2.4TD, 2.4D
1991-95 S140 Same
1995-99 S150 Same
1999-2002 S170 Same
2002-06? S180  

* First Toyota Century — a stretched Crown — introduced as the Crown Eight with a 2.6 liter V8 engine
D = Diesel, TD = Turbodiesel, SC = Supercharged

More to come especially if you send it in!

This Toyota-focused site copyright © 2000-2023 Zatz LLC.