Manual Wagon Heaven: 1976 Toyota Crown

As automotive connoisseurs, we know in our hearts that the manual gearbox is the only correct way to send power to the rear wheels. Likewise, we know that a wagon is the only way to move large amounts of humans (living or otherwise) and cargo about. Our loved ones at best tolerate us for our near-religious conviction of beliefs. Somehow, the holy grail popped out of Japan in the mid-seventies. Find this 1976 Toyota Crown for sale in Port Pirie South, SA for $3,800 AUD ($2,850 USD at the time of writing) via gumtree.

The Crown has been Toyota’s luxury offering since it was introduced all the way back in 1955 and is still being produced today for the Japanese market – although it’s playing second fiddle to Lexus these days. The Crown pulled out of the American market in 1973, before this fifth generation was introduced in 1974, while it left the Australian market in the late ’80s; in both cases replaced by the Cressida. The fifth iteration could be had as a two- or four-door hardtop, sedan, or this wagon body. To add to the holy-graildom of this Toyota, it has seven seats – with two rear-facing jump seats.

Condition is a bit of a mixed bag, with seemingly missing carpets, apparently mismatched front seats, and a slightly dingy – or perhaps, well-loved – interior ambience. The orange paint is a respray in factory colours, which looks to be in reasonably good condition. Fortunately, original wheels and hubcaps are still present, and most of the trim appears to be present, including much of the wagon-only equipment, like the dual rear-window wipers – just like a ’90s Camry wagon.

Like many Japanese cars, the Crown came plenty well equipped for its day, with electric windows, power steering, and air conditioning in this example; the latter needs new pipes and a regas, definitely a must for the hot Aussie summer. Later fifth-generation cars are even better equipped, with the 2.6L inline 6 being fuel injected instead of being carburetor-fed and featuring four wheel disc brakes with anti-lock and speed-sensitive power steering. 

It’s a shame the Crown never really took off outside of Japan. Toyota, and other Japanese manufacturers, still had poor reputations during the ’70s, they were the purveyors of ‘Jap crap’ so it’s no surprise their most expensive offering floundered. Never the less, those who did buy Crowns found a world of options that could be orchestrated to create petrolhead heaven.

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Michael is a teenager who’s been obsessed with cars since he was able to talk, but has no ability in mechanics whatsoever. His daily driver is a manual transmission Nissan Maxima – the Australian Infiniti I30.