Frank Williksen is the veteran of the Broom editorial staff. He has worked as a car journalist for over 50 years and has tested a large number of cars at home and abroad.
Some cars he remembers better than others. Now Frank shares the memories with all of Broom’s readers. This time it is about the Toyota Crown from the early 1970s, the flagship from the Japanese giant.
One Japanese car that really impressed me in the late 1960s and into the 1970s was the Toyota Crown. This was a real director’s car from the east – or editor’s car, in my case; the editor-in-chief of Morgenposten in Oslo had a 1970 model Crown as his company car when I managed to work there before the newspaper was closed down on 1 April 1971.
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For a forest fire in Nordmarka
I was the night editor of the newspaper in addition to being responsible for the engine material, so it was on my watch that Morgenposten ended its existence as a daily newspaper in Oslo. The night of April 1, 1971 was the first – and fortunately the only – time I have drunk champagne with all my colleagues on the rotation, in a tuxedo and with more than one tear in the corner of my eye.
It was the digression …
I had a test drive of the Toyota Crown and was impressed by it. I had only experienced the editor’s copy as a passenger, on the way to a forest fire in Nordmarka or other events we were to cover for the readers.
Driver’s seat anno 1970. Large steering wheel, long gear lever, poor with air conditioning and navigation – but all in all not bad. And in its time very good! Photo: Frank Williksen
Sometimes it’s just right!
So I sat here a few days ago, and planned a look back at this model – but discovered that it was crap with pictures. That was when an email came from an avid Broom reader. He had read my case on the 1970 model Datsun 1200, and had alternative experiences of fuel consumption. I remembered this as something high, but with him it was the opposite.
In a final sentence in the email, he mentioned that he had a 1970 model Toyota Crown which was the neighborhood, and which was still in use. Mostly for Sunday trips with 96-year-old mother-in-law, but no matter what! And yes, I had to take a trip to Indre Østfold, if I wanted to – he should have the car freshly washed and ready for photography!
Sometimes things just work out!
Even under the hood, everything looks impeccable. Photo: Frank Williksen
Rust does not exist
A few days later, Fredrik Dahl received me out in the yard, with the Toyota ready. The car was bought new by his father-in-law in 1970, and he has been very careful with polishing. The car I saw must be the country’s finest specimen of the species. Not only is it extremely well maintained, but it is also as close to the original as it is possible to be – considering that some wear parts actually need to be replaced from time to time.
– Yes, this car has not even seen a spray can, here is the original paint from bumper to bumper. The closest it comes to that kind of thing is that a few years ago I took some minor rust stains on one door with a brush.
– I can safely say that rust does not exist. Then I also treated the chassis regularly in the good, old way. This means a mixture of chain oil, a little diesel and grease, which is mixed thin enough that it penetrates well everywhere.
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Maintained for almost 50 years by the same person
– In addition, I have used Vaseline spray regularly on gutters and joints, says Fredrik Dahl, who is a tool sharpener by profession. Although he is formally retired, he is still very active for a few customers.
Dahl has been involved in the maintenance of the car since 1972. At that time he worked for Rolf Karlsen in Krokstadelva, who had the Toyota as his company car. Fredrik came into the Karlsen family when he married the owner’s daughter, and the rest is – as it is called – history. A very good story, for Toyota’s part, which has had a really dedicated follow-up for almost 50 years – by one and the same man.
In the back seat of a Toyota Crown 1970 sat well. But the seat belts were not as good in order then as now. Photo: Frank Williksen
Radiator hoses from China
– How much do you work with this car?
– I do what is necessary at all times for it to appear in its best form. Personally, I am very concerned that it should be in original condition, and I go to great lengths to achieve this. Under the hood, little has changed. 30 years ago, it had to get a new brush motor and a new coil, and the simmer ring on the rear axle was changed about eight years ago. New rubber bellows on trackballs have also been installed. The oil filter housing is original, with a replaceable paper filter. These are often changed to fit newer cartridge filters, he says.
– What about rubber details such as hoses?
These must be changed from time to time. When the car needed new radiator hoses four years ago, these had to be specially made in China to match the original ones. I ordered 50 pieces, and delivered most to the Toyota Crown Club.
Wide and representative also from behind. Photo: Frank Williksen
Bought new for 33,250 kroner
– How easy is it to get parts for such an old car today?
– It is not always easy at all, no. But I have received help from the Toyota Crown club, and otherwise e-Bay is a good alternative, he says.
– Externally, it has only been necessary to replace the rear bumper after a collision around 1980. It was a Bubble that drove into us, and with a solid towbar at the back of the Toyota, we received minimal damage. Bobla, on the other hand, was not drivable afterwards.
When the car was bought from the then Toyota dealer Centralgaragen in Drammen in 1970, the price was NOK 33,250.
Electric watch as a plaster on the wound
– The only damage the car has received, it got when it was brand new – in fact before it was handed over to the customer. One problem was the incorrect drilling of holes for the radio antenna on the left front fender. It was sealed with a bottle cap and varnish. I can confirm that the cork is still sitting there!
– The second accident occurred when the dealer took a hole in the roof cover in the wrong place when fitting the seat belt in front. The hole is still there and it is also the electric clock in the dashboard that the dealer treated like a plaster on the wound.
… and such wonderful long gear levers we had at the time! Photo: Frank Williksen
Winter run a couple of seasons
– How much do you use the car?
– It is used regularly throughout the summer. Normally we have always had Sunday trips with mother-in-law on the program, something she has really appreciated. Mother-in-law loves the car, but the corona has stopped this this year, unfortunately.
– What about winter driving?
– It is irrelevant, and it has of course helped the good condition that the car has only been driven in winter for a couple of seasons, says Fredrik Dahl, who adds that the car is now registered as “worthy of protection”. Among other things, this has the advantage that he does not have to show it for approval.
Back then, exterior mirrors were often mounted on the front fender. Photo: Frank Williksen
The first Crown came in 1955
Toyota Crown was a large and spacious car for its time, and was therefore also popular as a taxi. Most common for the model was probably a 4-cylinder engine of 1.9 liters. From 1963 to 1967 it was also delivered with a 6-cylinder engine of 2.0 liters with 105 hp, or a 2.3 liter (2M) of 115 hp.
From 1968 it came with a 4-cylinder engine of 2.0 liters with 95 hp SAE, and it is this engine that sits in the black 1970 model in Trøgstad. The car has a 4-speed manual transmission, and is a four-door sedan, but the most common type of car at the time was probably a station wagon.
The length was 4.69 m and the width 1.69 m. The wheelbase was 2.69 m and the height 1.45 m. Net weight: 1,305 kg.
A little congratulations in the end: Toyota Crown is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year as a model since the first generation Crown was launched in 1955! In Norway, the car was continuously on the market until the early 1980s.
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The article was first published by broom.no.