In 1972 the Crown De Luxe saloon was the most luxurious Toyota British customers could buy. An exclusive and unusual car in its day – there was even a refrigerated compartment in the boot – it is now an exceptionally rare machine, which makes the emergence of a fine example from 25 years in storage all the more special.
Not only has this time-warp Toyota returned to the road, it has also been reunited with the family of its original owner, as detailed in a full feature newly published on the official Toyota blog to mark the car’s 45th anniversary.
The plush model was purchased new by Surrey couple Percy and Ethel Cole, its list price of £2,303 equivalent to around £29,500 in today’s money. It was treated with great care, rarely driven above 30mph and kept in dry storage whenever not in use. Mr Cole even kept the original “running in” sticker displayed on the rear window to excuse his preferred slower pace of driving.
His enthusiasm for the Crown was inherited from his father, who owned a previous generation model, and was passed on in turn to his own son, who bought a later-model Crown Coupe, from the same dealership near Guildford. Following his father’s death, Mr Cole junior cared for the Crown saloon for another 10 years before putting it into storage, where it remained untouched until October last year.
While the family considered whether to commission the work needed to make the Crown roadworthy again, the car was spotted on a garage forecourt by classic vehicle enthusiast Robin Shepherd. Impressed by its looks and recognising its rarity, he purchased the car and had the necessary repairs made, so that the venerable Toyota can once again cruise serenely through the Surrey Hills.
In a coda to the story, Robin later learned that Nick Garrick, a close friend and fellow classic motorcycle enthusiast, was a grandson of the Crown’s original owner. He was able to join Toyota’s anniversary photoshoot and share his childhood memories of travelling in the car when it was brand new.
Toyota Crown 2600 Automatic De Luxe specifications
|2,563cc six-cylinder in-line, SOHC
|140bhp @ 5,200rpm
|222Nm @ 3,800rpm
|Toyoglide three-speed automatic
|Front discs, rear drums, servo assisted
|Front – independent wishbones, rear – live axle
|14in steel with 174/80R14 radial-ply tyres
|Fuel tank capacity