When I last left off with my ’69 Toyota Crown Wagon project, I had gotten the car titled, got it rolling, washed, and had begun to ready it for the next stages of the build. Today I’d like to share a couple more small updates on the project and also touch on some of the Crown-related inspiration (and souvenirs) I found during my recent time in Japan.
Let’s begin by traveling back to January for the JCCA New Year Meeting. Among the large sea of amazing cars I saw that day was this Tokyo-based 50-series Crown Custom Wagon not unlike my own. Interestingly, I couldn’t recall ever seeing this particular car before – either in person or in a magazine. That was surprising, given how nicely done this thing was.
While I was ecstatic to come across such a nicely done wagon, it was a slightly bittersweet to see a car that was about 10,000 times nicer than mine. This was like the car that people will put in their classified ad to show “what it COULD look like” rather than a picture of the rusty heap they are actually selling.
Not only was the car in beautiful shape, but it also had been modified in very good taste. The ride height was turned down nice and low and the wheel selection was perfect.
Those are 14″ Fortran Drag-Is – an extremely rare vintage wheel – especially in a five lug pattern. With five spokes it almost looks like a Magnum 500 rallye wheel, but with a giant lip and small center. Also, check out the center caps with the Crown logo. Nice details all around.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the owner to learn more about the car and see the engine bay, but I came away very inspired regardless. While I doubt my car will ever be this nice, the vibe was spot-on.
While I was in Japan, I also had the chance to do some browsing around for Crown-related collectables to add to add my collection. I thought it would be fun to share my findings with you guys.
After all, isn’t tracking down miniature versions of your real car one of the funnest parts of automobile ownership? My collection is full of scale versions of cars I’ve owned in the past. Yep, the real cars might be long gone, but the replicas remain…
Of course it’s much easier to find miniature versions of certain cars than others. A Crown Wagon isn’t quite a Toyota 2000GT or Hakosuka GT-R when it comes to icon status, but I was actually able to dig up several different scale versions of the old wagon.
Let’s begin with this pair of Tomica Limited Vintage diecasts I brought home. The Limited Vintage series is made up of highly detailed 1:64 scale replicas of a variety of classic Japanese automobiles, along with a handful of imports. There are dozens and dozens of vehicles in this series, so finding a specific model can be tough. I knew the Toyopet Crown Wagon was part of the series, but actually finding it proved to be quite a challenge.
After coming up empty at several different hobby and diecast shops (more on this in future posts), I finally found someone selling the Limited Vintage Crown Wagon at the JCCA swap meet. At 2,500 yen it was pricey for a 1:64 scale diecast, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find it again. I didn’t see another example anywhere else for the rest of my trip.
It turns out this particular car was a 2005 release, making it rather hard to find today. Once I opened it up and got a good look at it, I was amazed at the detail. Rubber white wall tires, working suspension, a fully-detailed interior, etc.
Once I found out how detailed and rare it was, I didn’t feel so about the 2,500 yen. It’s even the same color as my real Crown! Or at least the same color mine was when sold back in 1969…
In addition to the normal Vintage Limited Crown Wagon, I also found a version done as a replica of a patrol car from the Osaka Police Department.
It has all the same details as the civilian version, with the addition of red lights and a megaphone on the roof.
It even has steel wheels and black walls while the other version has white walls and shiny hubcaps. I’d certainly be lying if I said this didn’t make me at least consider the idea of painting my car up like a Japanese police cruiser…
After I bought the Limited Vintage Cars, I also found a few more miniature Crown Wagons – including these 1:80 scale replicas from Tomytec’s “80 Car Collection”. These are actually designed for use on scale dioramas or model train layouts, but they also make great standalone models.
I found the white and blue JAF service car (think Japanese AAA) in a hobby shop for about 600 yen, while the white one was found in a used diecast shop for a ridiculously cheap 100 yen.
While they are a bit smaller than the Limited Vintage models, the detail is still very impressive.
But gets even smaller! In the same used diecast shop, I also found this set of three Tomytec 1:150 scale (N gauge in model railroad terms) Crown Wagons.
Here’s one sitting on my finger tip, just so you can see how small these things are…
But even given their microscopic size, all of the key details are there. Along with two normal models, this particular set also included a fire department car complete with a light on the roof and correct lettering.
Finally, a view of all three scales together. From left to right, 1:64, 1:80, and 1:150.
Ok then, back to my 1:1 scale Crown Wagon for a moment. While I haven’t made a whole lot of progress since the last update, I was able to get the original 2M engine and automatic transmission out of the car the other day.
Since the motor was was already partially disassembled when I got the car, removing it was rather easy. Disconnect the driveshaft, speedo cable, transmission mounts, engine mounts and she was ready to be pulled.
And out it comes! I guess one good part about working with a ratty old car is not having to sweat about scratching the paint when doing this sort of thing…
Now it’s off to storage for you. The car came with all of the original engine parts, so at some point in the future I might get this motor reassembled and running for the sake of originality. At the moment though, I still need to figure out what exactly will go in its place…
Just look at all the room! So many possibilities…
While I wait to figure out exactly what’s going in terms of powerplant, I thought I’d try to clean out and straighten up everything that I can. I began by pulling out the factory center console for a good cleaning.
After sitting for so many years, the console was looking pretty gross. I know it will never be perfect, but I figured I’d take it apart, break out the Brillo Pads and try to get as clean as possible.
The metal still has plenty of pitting, but I was able to get a lot more presentable for the time being. Small steps, but any progress is good progress, right?
That will do it for this project update. Now to “Toyoglide” to the next stage…
Hey mike, just came across your post. I recently picked up an ms53 wagon and hauled it back from nyc to Long Beach Cali. My plans were to swap in a diesel motor and restore. We should touch base, i can be reached at email@example.com
Hey Mike, I was just wondering how this is going? I can forgive you for not doing anything much as you have posted a lot in the last month, engine choice made yet? Or is that a surprise to come in the next post?
I loving all of your write ups and pics keep up the good work. Nice pick up on the MS53 they are a sweet car.
Here is a link to some pics of my MS53 with a 7MGTE fitted I hope it gives you some ideas for yours.
Its been my pride and joy for about 11 years and this is the latest in approx 4 builds or evolutions of the car.
Good luck with your wagon...
Ps 2J it for many skids!!!!
Reading this while having a break from working on my 1970 RT40 Corona sedan is a nice wee read. Keep up the good work :D
2UR-GSE is where I would go if I had 10's of thousands. But the 3RZ is a good cheap alternative.
Yes. There have also been updates on Sean's Civic, Larry's Z, and Dino's Skyline as well. Click the "Speedhunters Project Cars" tag and check 'em out!
if anything temporarily add a 22r its cheap inexpensive easy to modify and runs forever just a thought though until u get the motor u want
I quite literally did the same as you this week on my old jetta, only I've not kept the original engine (1.8 8v auto) and I gained a nasty gash on my head from bumping my head on the bonnet catch. Paintwork on my car also has something to be desired and the engine bay was quite greasy, nothing some oven cleaner and cool wheels can't fix. Looking forward to see how your project grows and changes.
Hey Mike, after you've degreased the black plastic parts in your car (like the console) you can use VHT Vinyl Dye to make it look like new.
Stay away from the black satin though and use the black gloss; the gloss isn't all shiny shiny like it sounds and the satin just looks like crap, all patchy and nasty!
Mike Garrett i used the matt black VHT vinyl dye on all of my removable interior plastics and it turned out looking it came out of the factory that way! very impressed :)
If I were you, I would just make that beautiful thing running as it is. There is even no need for new paint, the rust is not critical :) .
kamenkachev For the time being I just want to get it on the road. I may or may not tackle the body at a later time :)
Just a thought but a 1jz with individual carbs or ITB's made to look like individual carbs would be a cool set up, engine wise.
I completely understand what you're saying. I got some nice used mirrors for my Z to replace the fancy Italian ones "you cant see anything out of" at the eagle rock swap meet this past sunday. Something you would think would be so easy to replace turned out to be big pain in the ass. But after some tool hacking and some harddrive magnets, i finally got them in. Sometimes its those baby steps that can be the most fulfilling. Keep up the good work Mike.
For all the time you'll spend figuring your way around a swap, why not just rebuild the original? The money will likely be close to the same, if not less, and there won't be the hassles associated with a swap. Tons of room and endless possibilites for what to put in there, but there are always pitfalls in fitting an engine in a bay that was not built for it. At least you know the original will fit without any fabrication, + OG points and AND a carb'd I-6 sounds cooler than a 2-JZ or SR20 any day.
peter_ayers BTW, those are some pretty sweet die-cast models. I like the ida of JAF livery and a set of Hayashi Type CR...JDM wagon greatness awaits with however you finish it, that for sure.
peter_ayers Yeah I'm still considering options for engines, but haven't totally ruled out using the original motor as a base. We'll have to see.
Larry Chen Anytime man! I'm sure I'll need plenty of help once I find a motor.
@Mike Garrett you and your Crown have given me the inspiration I need it to start working on my 500-dollar s30! Thanks. Dude!