Toyota Crown S50
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
An Alternative to the Premier and Fairmont
Launched in 1967
, the Crown S50 was the 3rd generation of the upmarket Toyota luxury car. It's mechanicals were almost identical to the previous generation, but additional equipment was included. Higher specification models used the 2.0 litre M engine or the 2.3 litre 2M engine while lower specified models were equipped with the R-series four cylinder engines.
Like its predecessors, the Crown featured conservative lines - and that meant good visibility, a huge boot and timeless appearance. Better still, the Crown was priced within the reach of those driving Holden Premiers and Ford Fairmonts. The range (in Japan) included the 4-door station wagon, a very rare utility, double cab utility (even rarer than the single cab ute) and new body variant for the Crown, a two-door hardtop. In 1969
the Crown received a face lift for the headlight, grill and trim arrangement. The Crown S used the two-litre 'six', but due to sportier tuning it produced more power than the larger 2M, 125 PS (92 kW) at 5,800 rpm versus 115 PS (85 kW) at 5,200 rpm.
AMI added power assisted disc brakes
to the Crown's long list of features. The discs, big PBR 11.0 inch at the front and power assisted on the SE model, came without the servo on the standard car. But despite the typically Japanese "more value" package, the Crown appealled to a comparatively small sector of the Australian buying public. The Crown was smooth in top but progress was lethargic, particularly when compared to the local V8's, and you needed to change down early and use the engine's wide rev range.
But despite the lack of power, the Crown had been developed to the point where it could rightfully claim to be within the realm of a luxury car. It had a very Mercedes-like OHC engine, and that rare "driver appeal" that seemed to be built into every German car built at the time. For instance, although disc brakes
were part of the package the distance between the brake and accelerator pedals was incredibly long and, to highlight the problem, the servo assistance was ultra sensitive. Only a dab was necessary to bring the Crown to a front-bumper scraping stop. You can forget about heel/toe changes. The handling tended towards understeer with the front end running wider and wider with any increase in speed.
On The Road
If you wanted to the rear end to break away you needed to be on a wet road. The steering was vague, but then pretty much all Japanese cars of the era had a similar vague quality. Because of its low gearing, even keeping the Crown on the straight-and-narrow would require constant correction, which would quickly become tiresome on the long Australian roads. But, on the plus side, the Crown's steering was light and shock-free - and the turning circle was identical to the contemporary Holden Kingswood.
But where the Crown excelled was in the quiet quality feel it engenders. It was not a car to be hurried, rather it set the pace while ensuring the five occupants were treated like royalty. Up until 1970 the Crown was fitted with a confusing automatic overdrive on all the three-speed versions. To many drivers the Crown seemed slightly low geared - the engine would run out of breath in first and second, although when really pushed the Crown could produce high maximum speeds in the gears. The Australian cars should always have had the four-speed box as fitted to the imported Crown De Luxe.
By using a perimeter chassis frame, Toyota was able to insulate the body from road and tyre
noise and the result was that the Crown was arguably the quietest mass-produced car available in Australia at the time. And this is what the Crown was all about. It was never really trying to take the fight up to the Kingswood or Falcon, but provide a genuine and more civilized alternative. Crown's that were equipped with the 2,253cc 2M engine were no longer classified as compact cars under Japanese vehicle size classification regulations, even though the length and width were still in compliance.
Toyota offered the larger engine so that buyers who were traditionally served by the Crown could now choose the all-new Corona Mark II in 1968. This allowed Toyota to reposition the Crown as the top level privately available luxury sedan, with a more upmarket interior along with more spacious accommodations. They were also eventually to discontinue the pick-up truck versions of the Crown.