This Japanese pillar deserves all the distinctions addressed to it. It is one of the oldest nameplates in the world and impressively has been in continuous production after the first model rolled off the production line in January 1955. It was also the first car to be released. entirely built and assembled in Japan by a Japanese. Car manufacturer. Toyota refused to ally with foreign car manufacturers like some of its Asian competitors: Nissan, Isuzu and Hino. The success of the Crown was a great inspiration to the entire Japanese auto industry at the time. Today, the Crown continues to help consolidate its market share as one of Toyota’s luxury sedans and is sold primarily in Japan and other Asian markets.
The History Maker
The Toyota crown is currently absent from the U.S. market, but it’s interesting that this was the first car the automaker ever officially brought to the United States for sale. It was in the late 1950s and the car was then known as the Toyopet Crown.
Unfortunately, this first foray ended in disaster as the car simply did not suit the driving style of Americans. Toyota has learned its lessons, applied them successfully to future products, and the results are pretty clear to everyone today.
Another wears the ‘crown’
This Japanese sedan is the rightful holder of the title of the world’s oldest production sedan, having been in production for over 6 decades now. Interestingly, the oldest nameplate in the Toyota family still has a few years to go.
This honor belongs to the legendary Toyota Land Cruiser. The SUV debuted in 1951 and is still going strong today; having evolved in design and capabilities through several generations.
Long live the crown
The fact that the Crown is still in production today speaks volumes about the car’s appeal and practicality in the sedan segment. He outlasted several worthy Asian rivals, all of whom had long production runs before running out of steam and running out of steam.
There were cars like the Mazda 929 and the Mitsubishi Debonair with runs that lasted 24 and 34 years respectively. Then there was also the Nissan Cedric which lasted over 40 years on the market before it too slipped below the horizon.
Not available in America
Today, you’ll find the Crown in predominantly Asian markets where it’s marketed as a mid-size luxury sedan. The car may have started Toyota’s journey to the United States, but it has been absent from the country’s market for decades.
One of the possible reasons for this is the fact that Toyota already sells Lexus LS sedans in America and these vehicles have just about everything the Crown has to offer. Lexus LS cars are also about 12 inches taller than the Crown; an advantage in the American market.
That may change soon
In May 2021, a report claimed that Toyota had recently filed for a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office. It was filed under the name “Crown” for “automobiles and their structural parts”.
This naturally fuels speculation that the auto giant may seriously consider bringing the car back to America in some form or another. There are a few scenarios here; like a Crown hybrid or the recently unveiled Toyota Crown SUV. They might also just want to protect the name “Crown” in the US market. Anyway, the filing of the patent leaves room for interesting possibilities.
The Crown Connection
The Crown name apparently has deep meaning at Toyota and it extends beyond the company’s long-standing nameplate. The Toyota Corona, which debuted as a little sister to the Toyota Crown, actually means “crown” in Latin.
The world’s number one bestseller, the Corolla, also means “little crown” in Latin. That’s not all. The Camry has its roots in the Japanese expression “kanmuri” which means – you guessed it – “little crown”. This basically means all of the brand’s mainstream sedans that connect with a single word.
Today, only two vehicles in the extensive Toyota model lineup bear their own insignia in addition to the Toyota logo; the crown and the century. For the Crown, the badge debuted with the earliest designs and has constantly evolved with each generation.
The badge is prominent and visible on the radiator grille, steering wheel and C-pillars. This is another clear illustration of the Crown’s privileged place within the company vehicle lineup.
The “Discover the Spirit of the Crown” project
This is a special program run by Japanese Toyota dealers that helps reinforce the Crown’s image as literally indestructible. As part of this program, dealers will fully restore the first generations of the Crown, primarily to demonstrate that even older versions of the car can still function today.
That’s quite a business, especially considering that the first generation of the car was introduced in 1955. Some of the restored cars even competed in a 430 km race from Nagoya to Tokyo.
The first exploits of the Crown
The first generation crown was well received in Japan, but Toyota was already looking beyond the domestic market and aimed to present the crown to the rest of the world. This led to the Crown’s participation in the 1957 10,000 mile rally in distant Australia.
It was the first car built entirely in Japan in the prestigious tournament at that time. La Couronne made a big deal of itself and not only finished the rally, but also came third among all foreign entries in the competition.
No plans to slow down
Yes, it may have been around 66 years, but don’t expect the Crown to give up its throne anytime soon. The 15th generation vehicle debuted in 2018 and for 2021 the car received a big interior upgrade in the form of a 12.3 infotainment display.
Of course, the car comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities and also packs a host of tech stuff you’d expect in any modern luxury sedan. It may not be sold in America, but that doesn’t mean the Crown doesn’t have much to offer its customers in markets where it is still very popular.
With each passing year, manufacturers are pushing the boundaries of what it means to drive a luxury car. This year, it’s all about cutting-edge technology.
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