It is hard to imagine that there was a time when Toyota, now the world's number one car manufacturer,
was an afterthought in the US market. The Toyopet Crown was one of the company's first product by
which it tried to gain US market share In the late fifties. That said, it imported only 287 Crowns of which
only five are known to have survived.
This particular Crown, with only 48,000miles, has the distinction of being all original including the paint,
trim and the mechanicals down to the spark plugs. The car which was originally sold in California
saw use from 1958 to 1964 when it was parked due to an engine problem. The engine has been
subsequently fixed and now the car is operational although it is mainly used as a display.
(A few noteworthy features: the red interior, the rear suicide doors, the placement of the ignition
key to the left of the steering wheel and the placement of the emergency brake handle.)
Engine is a 1.4L four cylinder putting out only 60hp good for a top speed of about 70mph. Interestingly,
the engine still has a hand crank in case the battery goes dead.
The Crown serves as a testament to the fact that the current Toyota powerhouse came from
such humble beginnings. It is unclear whether early Japanese imports will gain collector status
like that of European imports but it is safe to say that they should since they have profoundly
influenced the American economy and psyche.