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Identity Crisis: 1963 Toyota Crown Deluxe

1963 Toyota Crown

Twenty years before Toyota built the compact Starlet that Jesse just purchased, the Japanese company was building full size sedans. We didn’t get many of these early cars and there are very few left on American roads today. The Crown was Toyota’s first entry into the American market and these early cars are highly sought after by Toyota collectors. This 1963 Crown Deluxe has been off the road since 1968 and has spent most of the past 46 years parked in a covered porch. It needs work, but should run again without performing a full restoration. Take a look at it here on eBay.

Toyota Crown Motor

The Crown was Toyota’s first real attempt at building a full size car that could take on the American market. If you look at it closely, you might notice traits from a number of American cars from the early ’60s including the Ford Falcon and the Chrysler Imperial. While the exterior may have looked American, it was all Japanese under the hood. This one is powered by a 1.9 liter inline four paired with a ToyoGlide two-speed automatic transmission. The seller claims the motor runs, but that the transmission needs work before it can be driven. We don’t know much about ’60s Toyota transmissions and while its name might be reminiscent of the PowerGlide, we doubt it is anything like one.

Toyota Crown Dash

The interior of the Crown seems simplistic in comparison to most American cars of the era, bu it was actually quite comfortable and well-appointed for the price. The seller only provided one picture of the inside of this one and from what can be seen it will need a complete restoration. Finding parts for it will likely be difficult and costly when you finally do find them.

Toyota RS40

We aren’t sure it’s accurate to call the Crown the Starlet’s Grandfather, but without the Crown’s success Jesse likely wouldn’t be running around town in his Starlet. We always find these early Japanese cars fascinating and somewhat unusual. When most of us talk about Toyotas the image of Supras, Corollas, and Prii come to mind, not a sedan from the 1960’s that is struggling with it’s identity. It might be a foreign car, but it could easily be mistaken for a piece of ’60s American Iron. So if this ToyoPet were yours, what would you do with it? Would you go to the expensive of restoring it back to original?


  1. Michael Cornish

    These Early Toyota Crowns were sold in Australia whilst not prolific a good number were sold, there are 2 a1965 and a1966 utility ( pickup) version on (ebay.com.au) currently. Not many left on the road at the present

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  2. dave

    Why has the car sat so long

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  3. Ryan

    There probably aren’t too many of these left.

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  4. Mark E

    Definitely an important piece of Toyota history & deserves a full restoration. Don’t know anything about toyoglide transmissions but that crunchy looking interior gives me the chills thinking of restoring it…

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  5. Rick

    One of my younger brothers had a ’66 Crown station wagon during the late 70s when there were were still a few around. He drove it for several years, long enough that the engine was getting tired. As luck would have it, he got sideswiped (not his fault) and instead of getting it fixed decided to take the check from the other driver’s insurance and put it toward a new car. He fronted the crown to me and said he wanted $200, but when I fired it up to drive it home I discovered that it had a bad miss, which he hadn’t mentioned. So I tested the compression and found it had a dead cylinder, Since it really wasn’t worth fixing up, I took it to C & F in Duvall (a fantastic cheap local wrecking yard that’s been gone for years) and they gave me $50 for the Crown. On my next trip to C & F, I noticed they were using the Crown as a torch wagon, had cut the rear roof out (much like an early 60s Stude wagon) so the oxy & acetylene bottles could stand up vertically. And it turned out they kept that Crown as their torch wagon for a couple of years, dead cylinder and all. Anyhow, I shined my brother on for the $200, and kept the $50 I got from C & F as a “nuisance fee” for his dishonesty about the motor. And to this day, whenever our family gets together, his wife still snivels about the $200. He also had a complete set of factory manuals, which he gave me and I still have, which I will sell one of these days.

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    • Sean Tennis

      That was one of my favorite boneyards too! They had great prices that helped many folks keep on the road!

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  6. paul

    While I do remember the Crowns, I never seen this style when I first saw the picture it reminded me of a Studebaker President. This one with all it’s moldings intact looks like a good project.

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    • Brian

      I was just thinking that it’s daddy was a ’64 Studebaker Commander, but I’m not sure what it’s mamma was…

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  7. paul

    Very cool bus in the backround.

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  8. Jim-Bob

    Actually, the Toyoglide was based pretty heavily on the GM Powerglide (and the inline six in the FJ was also based on the Chevy Stovebolt six). The Japanese copied a lot of Western designs back then and usually improved on them. Datsun copied a lot of BMC designs (and I think licensed them too), and Hino even copied the Renault Dauphine with the Contessa (right before they were absorbed by Toyota). Likewise, as part of the Marshall Plan, many former Japanese military suppliers built sewing machines with their tools. These were based on the Singer 15, which was out of patent in the US and so the designs were up for grabs. (I own one of these machines. It was $20 in mint condition at a thrift store. They managed to be both cheaper, quieter and better quality than the originals-with much tighter tolerances. One of the manufacturers is a company you might have heard of: Toyoda automatic loom works. Yep, THAT Toyota. When Toyoda decided to make cars in the late 30’s they were afraid of failure and a loss of face. So, They change the name of the auto company to Toyota so that the family name would not be shamed should they fail. Well, both enterprises were a success, and today Toyoda still makes sewing machines and Toyota makes cars and trucks.

    As far as it goes, the Crown was the first Toyota to be named out of a type of crown. Other models continued this theme such as the Corona, Carina, Cressida and I believe the Tercel. It’s kind of an odd naming convention but then Nissan also chose an odd theme too as they named vehicles after things from Western theater and literary sources (The Cedric was named after a character in “Little Lord Fauntleroy” and the Fairlady after the play “My Fair Lady”, etc.)

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    • Kris_01

      Not the Tercel. It’s Latin for “one third”, as in it was always approximately 1/3 smaller than the Corolla.

      Which by the way, is another type of crown, as is the ” Kunmuri” (or Camry).

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      • Jim-Bob

        Thanks! My mind drew a blank and I couldn’t remember the others.

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  9. Ron Tyrrell

    In the late sixties I owned and operated an import repair shop in Tacoma Wash near McCord AFB. One of our customers brought in a 1965 Crown for a timing chain repair , no problem we thought because the engine appeared to be a 215 Buick aluminum look alike. We thought we could make Buick timing gear set work but alas being metric and being early on in my experience with Toyotas it would not work. We finally found a contact number in Japan and had the gears, chain and seals sent to the shop. The car also had a 12 volt refrigerator in the trunk and full power windows. It seems the pilots flying in and out of Japan brought the car back at some time and sold it to some one local.

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  10. DT

    Datsun had a lot of bird names also,Of corse they were called Toyopets first.The story I heard on the name was that they rely heavily upon numberology,
    and Toyoda didnt come up right, so they named it Toyota so the numbers came up better?Ive had countless Coronas,Celicas and 4wd trucks(srtaight axels only) 18 rc’s and 20R’s I have racked up millions of miles.The ’79 4wd I have now ,has over 2 million miles. This Crown is an older crown because it has the 4 cylinder,it is very unusual,a majorty of the Crowns were 6cylinders,But hey were slightly newer.

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    • Jim-Bob

      I have heard that story too. It has something to do with the appearance of the kanji as to why they chose the specific syllables for the renaming. The truth is some combination of the two as there really is/was a Toyoda corporation, so the name there must not have had numerologically negative connotations.

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  11. Chris

    Underneath they’re like a 7/10 size Chev from the early ’60s. Double wishbone
    front suspension & a 3 link & panhard rod rear end. Even an ‘X’ chassis.
    Solidly built too. I wonder how a SBC in one would go. One hell of a sleeper.

    One odd feature was that the horn ring operated the indicators. You rotated it about an inch from memory.

    We only got the 6 cyl versions her in Aus. They had a reputation as an “old persons car” by the late 80s. Kind of like the camry now.

    Here’s a link for those into them.


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  12. Chris

    Forgot to add that the wheels are 5 stud and the same PCD as fords & Chrysler.

    So some ‘mags’ as we used to call them are easy to find

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  13. jean lecointe

    I like the bus behind the Crown.

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  14. Keruth

    Dad had several early 60’s 180/190 4-banger Mercedes’s back in the late ’60s and the local Benz dealer had picked up a Toyota franchise too. Parked together with the hoods up, only the 3 point star on the valve cover gave it away! Hey, even the air cleaner/carbs/manifolds were great copies. They didn’t last any better than a Chevy in the salt, LoL!

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  15. gerry Member

    these are few and far between even here in Japan.
    one’s in similar condition routinely fetch $12k or more.
    Unfortunately parts are just as hard to come by here as well.

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  16. Fred

    Surely those aren’t original wheels. This would be a fun project if parts were not impossible to find and the interior was better. I’m pretty familiar with “early” Toyotas having once owned a Corona MK II wagon, but this one is even before my time. I’ll bet there aren’t more than a a couple more in the States.

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  17. Dean

    Back in the 1970’s, my mom had a 73 Corona Mkll and my brother had a 70’s Corina. Both were great cars, until the New England salt ate them.

    On another note, I can’t prove this, but I will bet the name “Celica” was originally intended to be pronounced “Seleeka”. It just make sense within Toyota’s naming scheme.

    ex. Crown, Corona, Corina, Celica? Which one doesn’t fit? Can anyone back me up here?

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  18. Ace

    This was in a slide I copied for a customer at work. Looks to be a ’63 crown.

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  19. Gord

    Had a 65 station wagon. Rebuilt the engine as parts were available through local Toyota dealer, and it ran great for a long time. Weird overdrive gear to go along with 3 on the tree….get over about 30 mph, then let off the gas. Great car for a long time…engine was bullet-proof.

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