Toyota Crown S80 and S100
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
The Conservative Crown
Launched in 1974
in Japan, export of the S80 Crown began from 1975
. Offered as four-door sedan, 2-door hardtop coupe, 4-door hardtop sedan, wagon, and van. Engines were 2.0 and 2.6 litre gasoline. The Crown started rolling off AMI'S Port Melbourne assembly line in 1975
. Stripped of its individualistic face, the Crown was super conservative and had an uncanny likeness to its arch rival from Nissan.
But the Crown's conservatism did not make it such a bad place to be. In winter you could have plenty of hot air directed out of the two-level heating system, the seats (trimmed in a pleasantly pliable vinyl) were soft and comfortable, and the insulated carpet kept the cold from coming through the floor. It was all very relaxing.
As you would expect from the flagship of the Toyota range, the Crowns engine was smooth and quiet, as was the automatic transmission. Of course the Crown was never designed to be punted around corners quickly - the accent was on comfort, soft ride and easy driving - but the Crown was engineered with a high degree of competence.
From under the bonnet all you would hear was a dull purr from the overhead cam 2.6 litre six - and that was partly because Toyota put the engine through an extensive balancing exercise when the Crown was face-lifted in 1973
. Some considered it the smoothest six cylinder engine then available - at least in the price range the Crown was in, and it took the fight up to the Bavarians - with a couple of motoring journalists daring to compare it to BMW's superby engineered six in the 525.
Power output was unchanged from the previous model at 112 kW (150 bhp) and maximum effort came on tap at a fairly high 5400 rpm. Peak torque was achieved at 3800 rpm. It was a trifle sedate at the lower rev levels but you could feel the twisting power build up as the engine spun towards the high torque area. With an extra weight penalty of 68 kg (150 lb) over its predecessor, the S80 Crown should have been slower - at least on paper - however in comparison it was only fractionally slower, able to put down consistent 19.1 second times.
Behind the Wheel
Apart from the very solid "brick" appearance and the commanding view from the now higher seats, the feeling of general security was enhanced by the Crown's brakes. The power assisted disc-drum arrangement was controlled from a well graduated pedal. A car like the Crown could have gotten away with using cart springs to support the body on its live rear axle, but Toyota instead opted for the improved locating qualities of four links with a lateral track bar and coil springs. Handling tended to be on the ponderous side although roadholding was more than adequate. Inside the Crown could best be described as a roomy saloon with heaps of legroom in the front. Naturally there was not so much at the back but what there was, was improved by depressions built Into the back of the front seat squabs. Rear headroom was good and the back seat squab comfortably high but the rear seat was a little short on thigh support.
The Crown was not without fault - but to their credit Toyota were always seeking ways to improve the car. Take the radio aerial for example - a new innovation was to have it sandwiched in the laminated screen, but the technology was not all that well sorted, providing a limited range and generally poor reception. It was soon replaced by a power aerial as standard equipment. The wipers fell short of a full sweep to the right hand pillar leaving a nasty blind spot but modification in the form of a different setting on the pivot corrected this. The wipers were of the P76
disappearing variety and the aim of the earlier setting was to park them completely out of sight. However safety came out on top of appearances. The heating ventilation system on the SE was, as mentioned, quiet and efficient, the wipers offered an intermittent sweep setting and the heated window control turned off automatically after the back window was clear.
In September 1978
, for overseas markets, a 2.2-litre diesel was introduced. Trim levels for the Crown were Standard, Deluxe, Super Saloon, and Royal Saloon. A minor change was made in 1978
with the introduction of disc brakes
at both the front and rear axles with anti-lock brakes, speed sensitive power steering, and a 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Initially available with the "old style" 4M engine with rounded valve cover, later models switched to the new 4M engine with rectangular valve cover. This generation also saw the introduction of fuel injection on both the 2.6-litre 4M and the 2.0-litre M engines. Select models also were available with 4-wheel disc brakes
and twin piston calipers on the front brakes.
The Crown Hardtop
The Hardtop Sedan model has a front chrome grill and square headlights, but was no longer considered a true hardtop, due to the inclusion of a "B" pillar. The styling differences between the hardtop and sedan four-door models was that the side windows on the hardtop were frameless, and the rear window was sloped more than the formal appearing sedan. This series Crown exceeded length regulations of 4.7 m by 65 mm set forth by Japanese regulations, but Toyota continued to offer a 2.0 litre engine for buyers who were looking for better fuel economy over the larger six-cylinder engines.
New Zealand models were assembled in New Zealand but on an SKD basis - which meant it had more Japanese content (such as glass) than earlier CKD versions. It was the last Crown built in New Zealand built and was replaced in 1979
by the Cressida (MK II), which was available with a four-cylinder engine. The oil crises of 1973
had led the government to impose a 60% sales tax on larger engines, and the Crown could no longer be priced to suit its market.