Toyota Crown First Generation
|1955 to 1962|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door sedan 4-door station wagon 2-door station wagon|
|Related||Toyopet Master Toyota Origin|
|Engine||1,453 cc R OHV I4 (RS, RS20) 1,897 cc 3R OHV I4 (RS30) 1,491 cc C diesel OHV I4|
|Wheelbase||2,530 mm (100 in)|
|Length||4,285 mm (168.7 in)|
|Width||1,679 mm (66.1 in)|
|Height||1,524 mm (60.0 in)|
|Curb weight||1,152 kg (2,540 lb)|
The Crown were introduced in 1955 in Japan to meet the demands of public transportation.The Crown was intended for private purchase, while the Master served in a commercial form as a taxi, both with the same 1.5 L Type R engine used on their previous car, the Toyopet Super. The front doors open conventionally, and the rear doors are suicide doors, a feature also utilized on the Toyota AA, Toyota's first car.
The Crown was much more popular than the Master due to the more compliant suspension of the Crown, and while the Master was intended for taxi service, the Crown was more accepted by the market over the Master, and more Crowns were sold into taxi service than the Master. The Crown was designed to replace the Super but Toyota was not sure if its independent front coil suspension and its suicide type rear doors were too radical for the taxi market to bear. So the Super was updated, renamed the Master and sold in tandem to the Crown, at Toyota Store locations. When sales of the Crown proved worthwhile, the Master was discontinued in November 1956 after being in production for only one year, and production facilities for the Master were transferred to the Crown. While the Master was discontinued the commercial vehicle based thereon, the Masterline, continued to be offered (utilities, wagons and vans) until 1959. A six-door wagon known as the Airport Limousine was shown as a concept car at the 1961 Tokyo Motor Show. It did not go into production.
In December 1955 the Crown Deluxe (RSD) was introduced, a posher model equipped with a radio and heater as standard. The initial RS model received a cosmetic update in 1958 to become the RS20, now with hooded headlights and a single-piece front windshield. In October 1959 Japan's first diesel-engined passenger car, the Crown Diesel, was introduced. Its C-series engine only had 40 PS (29 kW). In October 1960 the 1.5 L R engine was complemented by the larger 1.9 L (1,896 cc) 3R engine for a model called the RS30, originally only available in the Deluxe version. The 1900 was also available with the new two-speed Toyoglide automatic transmission. In April 1961 a Crown Standard 1900 was added.
Its coil and double wishbone independent front suspension was a departure from the leaf sprung live axle front suspension used on most previous models but was similar to the independent front suspension used on the 1947 Toyopet SA. The live axle rear suspension was similar to that used on most of the previous models (unlike the trailing arm rear suspension used on the SA). Taxi versions were produced and beginning in March 1959 commercial versions of the vehicle were also available, as an estate wagon and a three- or six-seater coupe utility. These took over the "Toyopet Masterline" name in the Japanese domestic market, but usually received "Crown" badges in the export. The "Crown" name was previously in use by the Imperial limousine manufactured by Chrysler in the early 1950s.
Exports of the first Japanese car to the United States began in 1957 and ended in 1960. The car was generally panned by certain members of the U.S audience. As a publicity stunt to demonstrate the car's reliability, Toyota staged a campaign common to American automakers: a coast-to-coast endurance run from Los Angeles to New York. The Toyopet was barely able to limp into Las Vegas before the project had to be called off.
Since the car was designed for the muddy, slow, unpaved Japanese roads, it failed the mass urban landscape of the US because of its inability to keep up with traffic on the faster interstate highways. The Crown was simply a very high quality sedan on a truck-like chassis. The overbuilt heavy body was no match for the original 1.5 litre four-cylinder. To try to remedy this, a newer, more powerful engine was expected to be the solution, but the improvements did little to help. A total of 287 Crowns were imported to the US with only five known to have survived.
In 1960 the first generation Crown stopped being imported to the US market. Many unhappy dealers were left with unsold Crowns. The Tiara and Land Cruiser would be the only cars imported until the second generation Crown was available five years later.
In November 2000, Toyota released the Origin, a retro version of the RS series Crown to celebrate 100 million vehicles having been built in Japan.