Project Crown: Signs Of Life

March. It’s a time for car lovers across the much of the world to begin the thaw from a long winter and the coming automotive season. The cold winter may still be in effect in many places, but the coming of March always gets the mind thinking about the warmer and longer days ahead. Here in California, we pretty much have car-friendly weather all year round, but there’s still a certain excitement that comes with spring.

I personally spent the first weekend of the month giving some much-needed attention to my 1969 Toyota Crown Wagon project. We aren’t talking major progress here, but it felt good nonetheless to finally devote some time to the old wagon.

While my mind has been racing about ideas for the project, a busy schedule kept me from doing much to the car physically.This is how it looked when I picked the car up back in November and – how it sat while I was in Japan for most of January and February.

The only real progress I was able to make before heading off to Japan was to get inside, pull out the seats and remove the remnants of the original carpet. The car had been sitting outside in the elements for a couple decades, so there was a lot to clean up in here. It still needs to be gone through, but at least you can work in there now.

After getting back home from Japan, the first order of business was to get the car titled and registered. Since the original title had long been lost and the car had been sitting for so long I was a bit worried about this. I’m sure anyone who’s dealt with the California DMV knows what I’m talking about. Fortunately though, the seller had done his homework and I was able to apply for a new title with ease. Also, because the car’s been off the road for such a long period it was no longer in the DMV’s records. That meant I could start fresh and avoid those dreaded back fees.

Once I had that taken care of, it was time to get the car ready to work on. That meant first addressing the wheel and tire situation. When I bought the car it was wearing three different kinds of rusty wheels and the tires on the factory steelies up front no longer held air. It looked almost like they’d been on the car since new…

That’s the primary reason I headed out to the swap meet, the other day – to hunt down a cheap set of wheels and tires that I could use to roll the car around while I work on it. The great thing about the Crown is that it uses the same 5×114.3 bolt pattern used by most old Ford and Chrysler products. That means that wheels are cheap and plentiful.

I was able to find exactly what I was exactly what I was looking for. I came across a guy selling a set of 15″x7 steel wheels and tires from a Ford Ranger pickup truck. The agreed selling price? $30 for the complete set of four.

Actually, make that $35 if you include the fiver a gave to a kid with a wagon to haul the wheels back to my dad’s truck in the parking lot. Either way, even at a junkyard you’d be hard pressed to get a single wheel and tire for that much.

Back in my garage, we pulled off the crusty old wheels and tossed on the new ones. Perfect fit! Not the best looking wheel in the world perhaps, but you can’t go wrong for the price. Just look at that super sick concave too!

With all four wheels bolted on, the car was rolled (quite easily) out into the daylight for the first time in a few months. I had almost forgotten what the old Toyota looked like under the sun.

With the car now in a rolling state, we loaded it on the trailer and took it over to my parents’ house just a few miles away.

Over there, we’d have a lot more room to work on the car – and also a lot more tools available than the basic stuff I have in my own small garage.

With the Crown secured in its new temporary home on the side of my folks’ house, the first order of business was to give the car a thorough wash.

I had no idea when the car was last cleaned, but based on the amount of dirt and other stuff that was caked on the body it had been years, or more likely decades.

Luckily, my dad has a pressure washer which he lent me to hose down the car…

Now typically you might want to avoid using a high power pressure washer on the body a prized vintage vehicle, but since having pristine body and paintwork are not part of my plans for this thing I wasn’t too worried.

Just look at the difference a wash makes! It’s like night and day! OK, so maybe the car looks just as crappy as it did before, but at least it’s no longer covered in dirt and other gross stuff.

Another thing we were able do is get the rear tailgate open for the first time. It only opens with the rear window lowered, and considering the window is electric it was a bit of challenge. After some tinkering we got the window down and the tailgate open. This meant I was able to get a good look at the wagon’s sideways facing foldable “way back” seat. Who wants a ride?

In the grand scheme of things we made just a miniscule amount of progress on what’s going to be a long and challenging project, but even so there was a sense of accomplishment and pride that came at the end of the day.

There’s just something about rewarding about breathing new signs of life, as small as they may be, into a car that had pretty much been given up for dead. There’s still a tremendous amount of work to be done, but I’m even more excited about the project now than I was when I bought it.

The next order of business is to pull out what’s left of the original 2M motor and clean up the engine bay. That will be the the first step in the car’s yet-to-be-determined engine transplant.

And while I’m not yet sure what exactly will wind up under the hood, I’m beginning to get more solid idea of where I want to go with the project. Specifics are still be decided of course, but right now I’m very much leaning towards the idea of lots of low, cool wheels, a cool engine, and a body that looks more or less as it does now. What do you think?

Before wrapping this up I’d like to extend a special thanks to my dad for all the help he’s given me with this weird old car so far.

To be continued.

-Mike

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132 comments

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1
DanielRamirez1

That is awesome :) slow progress is better than no progress , good luck with everything :D

2

Love that last photo, keep it up Mike. I'm tuned in.

3

What engine are you thinking of going with?
JZ is probably a bit overdone, perhaps a UZ of some sort? Make it a comfortable highway cruiser?

4

Please dont dump it or do anything hella flush to it, restore it to its once beautiful oem look

5
Charles Montgomery III

@aussieANON 
Supercharged 1UZ is not a bad way to go....

6

i really like those wheels on it lol

7

i really like those wheels on it

8

UZ....UZ....
I disagree with Justin T, dump that mo fo and dump it hard!!!! I agree with K's though, those wheels look decent on there for now! Really interested in this build, keep us updated fo sho!

9

"Actually, make that $35 if you include the fiver a gave to a kid with a wagon to haul the wheels back to my dad’s truck in the parking lot."
 
You read it here first folks, Mike G endorses child labour.
 
 
(I wouldn't have paid him)

10

@Charles Montgomery III unless you go with a disengaging charger like the AW11, say goodbye to any semblance of fuel economy.
 
If it was me, I'd just make it flow a little better and aim for economy. They have enough horsepower to push something old like that around at a fair rate.

11

Surely it has to be a JZ? Not massively tuned, just a modern, reliable inline sixer, in keeping with the original. I know JZ's are overdone but thats for a reason right ;)

12

that car is begging for a 1jz.

13

Go for a 7MGTE! Great engine, loads of potential and not many people do it! A mate of mine has one putting out 340rwkW - he's rebuilding it atm hoping for about 370rwkW.

14

@Justin T He's already stated that won't be happening.

15

That one missing headlight just makes this car beg for a turbo.

16
Charles Montgomery III

@aussieANON 
I'm not big on Toyota motors, but how much power do the UZ series engines put out? I know the ones from the 90s SC300/Soarer put out 265 units of power and torque.....But what can we say? Its not our car anyway, its Mike's.

19

Mike will read this conversation and it'll get him thinking.
 
1UZ in top spec made 300hp. No other UZ reaches this except for 3UZ which is significantly newer and hence harder to find and more expensive.
They're an absolutely bulletproof engine from the factory, one of the most over-engineered V8s made.
They get good numbers when twin turboed, 1000hp+.
Shame it's an F head, not a G head.

20

Mike will read this conversation and it'll get him thinking.
 
1UZ in top spec made 300hp. No other UZ reaches this except for 3UZ which is significantly newer and hence harder to find and more expensive.
They're an absolutely bulletproof engine from the factory, one of the most over-engineered V8s made.
They get good numbers when twin turboed, 1000hp+.
Shame it's an F head, not a G head.

21

Paint it black : )

22

Paint it black : )

25

Thats a cool little wagon. Im picturing it on its guts, supremes and a SBC with quad carbs.

26

Thats a cool little wagon. Im picturing it on its guts, supremes and a SBC with quad carbs.

27

Can I vote 3S-GTE! An engine with a lot of pedigree, plus old school enough to get that late 80s tuner wagon theme working. I can hear it now!

28

Can I vote 3S-GTE! An engine with a lot of pedigree, plus old school enough to get that late 80s tuner wagon theme working. I can hear it now!

29

2JZ! Maybe an SR20 too

30

2JZ! Maybe an SR20 too

31

1UZFE, airbagged....loud and low how could you go wrong. everything else will fall in place.

32

1UZFE, airbagged....loud and low how could you go wrong. everything else will fall in place.

33
vroomtothetomb

@Dawsaurus

34
vroomtothetomb

@Dawsaurus
 I agree. Even NA that'll be around 200hp just to get it in the car/moving, then you could turbo down the road. or ITB's!
Aaand its in the (engine) family.
splurge on Wedsport SA series wheels...
fender flares? duck bill spoiler for the front...it never ends lol
BTW Mike you are blessed to have such accomodating parents, let alone wife for all
your pieces of.. i mean projects.

35

I love watching projects like this one. Even a little progress is always awesome. Keep it up.

36

find a cleaner example of the original engine and put triple dellorto's or webers on it, you'll love it forever with the noise it will make.

37

or... as its a toyota and the in thing to do at the moment with toyota's is putting in a subaru engine =) 2.5t maybe.

38

Am I reading right that its displacement is 1374cc? A 1.4 in a wagon =o

39

Has to be a NA 2JZ on either carbs or ITBs, the J series is just the "new" M series after all (factory engine).

40

@JakWhite 137.4 cu/in or 2.3l

41

Why anyone in america would chose to use a 1UZ is beyond me,

42

1 or 2 JZ,

43

honda k20 motor on ITB's get it low, some cool wheels and leave the bodywork alone and go drifting!!

44

I'd say either a 1UZ or a RB26.......

45

Not that you're looking for input, but I disagree with the thought of leaving the exterior as is. While patina is unique and can definitely be cool, body damage will never be. That giant scar down the passenger side doesn't add uniqueness or any kind of flavor, it detracts not only from the value, but from the overall patina. And speaking from experience with a former 1969 project car, the amount of rust sitting at the bottom of your doors should definitely not be ignored, not unless you like a car that looks like the bottom is falling out. You may need to have POR15 sponsor your build, but most of that rust is in spots not conducive to unique patina.
 
My other point is regarding thinking ahead. At the rate you start and then jettison projects, paint and body work will go a long ways towards resale value. Not that I hope you abort, but being realistic, it is a possibility. 
 
Hope you keep it a long time and we can all enjoy a sweet build-up here on SH.

46

pop an l28 in there for a sick old school sound

47

Great wagon Mike, this is the first time I see it, and it had already grown on me! As for the engine, I wouldn't swap the 2m but rather tune it up a bit, but leave it NA. I think you should restore the body, and give it a nice original paint, but remove some chrome parts to make it look a bit more clean. Going low is definitely a nice idea, but don't go too low, it could ruin the overall look of this anyway great looking Crown! Well, good luck with the build, have fun!

48

Great wagon Mike, this is the first time I see it, and it had already grown on me! As for the engine, I wouldn't swap the 2m but rather tune it up a bit, but leave it NA. I think you should restore the body, and give it a nice original paint, but remove some chrome parts to make it look a bit more clean. Going low is definitely a nice idea, but don't go too low, it could ruin the overall look of this anyway great looking Crown! Well, good luck with the build, have fun!

49

I love project posts!
 
Here's a trick for the power back window - take a 12v drill battery and hook it up to the wires on the window motor.  If the motor is still good it will roll up and down.  Reverse the wires to make it go back up.

50

I love project posts!
 
Here's a trick for the power back window - take a 12v drill battery and hook it up to the wires on the window motor.  If the motor is still good it will roll up and down.  Reverse the wires to make it go back up.

51

Those Ranger wheels actually look pretty darn cool on that wagon. I'd powder coat them black and roll with them.

52

Those Ranger wheels actually look pretty darn cool on that wagon. I'd powder coat them black and roll with them.

Author53

@FunctionFirst Well, as rare as the car is it's still not worth a whole lot - thus the reason it sat  for so long. Even If I were to invest a bunch of money in paint and bodywork I doubt I'd ever get my investment back. That's why for now at least I want to get the car where I can drive and enjoy it.

Author54

@FunctionFirst Well, as rare as the car is it's still not worth a whole lot - thus the reason it sat  for so long. Even If I were to invest a bunch of money in paint and bodywork I doubt I'd ever get my investment back. That's why for now at least I want to get the car where I can drive and enjoy it.

55

@PlegerZ24i I agree.  Especially once it's lowered a bit.

56

@PlegerZ24i I agree.  Especially once it's lowered a bit.

57

I miss my 69' crown, it wasn't a wagon, it was a sedan that ran and drove. I modified S14 SE wheels to fit and rocked it for a while. here's a pic. <a href="http://s96.beta.photobucket.com/user/carolinaguy99/media/crown.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l164/carolinaguy99/crown.jpg" border="0" alt="Crown photo crown.jpg"/></a>

58

I miss my 69' crown, it wasn't a wagon, it was a sedan that ran and drove. I modified S14 SE wheels to fit and rocked it for a while. here's a pic. <a href="http://s96.beta.photobucket.com/user/carolinaguy99/media/crown.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l164/carolinaguy99/crown.jpg" border="0" alt="Crown photo crown.jpg"/></a>

Author59

@PlegerZ24i Yeah I've thought about painting them black for the time being. A bit of a NASCAR look!

Author60

@PlegerZ24i Yeah I've thought about painting them black for the time being. A bit of a NASCAR look!

Author61

@KeithCharvonia Interesting! We used a car battery to get it working the other day.

Author62

@KeithCharvonia Interesting! We used a car battery to get it working the other day.

Author63

@gazserm Thanks a lot! Certainly a lot of choices with this car.

Author64

@gazserm Thanks a lot! Certainly a lot of choices with this car.

Author65

@AlexR I actually have a spare one in my garage haha.

Author66

@AlexR I actually have a spare one in my garage haha.

Author67

NA 2JZ is high on my list of potential swaps.

Author68

NA 2JZ is high on my list of potential swaps.

Author69

@ssbeane Thank you!

Author70

@ssbeane Thank you!

Author71

@rukus Could be cool...

Author72

@rukus Could be cool...

Author73

I like that picture. Whatever I do, I certainly want a set of Supremes to throw on to fit my mood.

Author74

I like that picture. Whatever I do, I certainly want a set of Supremes to throw on to fit my mood.

Author75

@MikeYee Nice!

Author76

@MikeYee Nice!

Author77

@TomHoward Yeah, they can be had pretty cheap too.

Author78

@TomHoward Yeah, they can be had pretty cheap too.

Author79

@PaddyMcGrath That's more like encouraging old fashioned hard work. It's the American way!

Author80

@PaddyMcGrath That's more like encouraging old fashioned hard work. It's the American way!

Author81

Whatever happens, you guys will be kept in the loop!

Author82

Whatever happens, you guys will be kept in the loop!

Author83

@aussieANON I was thinking a lot about a 1UZ, but from what I've heard it's a very tight fit and may hit the chassis.

Author84

@aussieANON I was thinking a lot about a 1UZ, but from what I've heard it's a very tight fit and may hit the chassis.

Author85

@Slight Count on it!

Author86

@Slight Count on it!

Author87

@DanielRamirez1 Thanks a lot!

Author88

@DanielRamirez1 Thanks a lot!

89

Or a BEAMS 3S-GE

90

Or a BEAMS 3S-GE

91

3sge + 6 speed.... but definitely keep the patina!

92

3sge + 6 speed.... but definitely keep the patina!

93
Tom Fredericks

Go with an engine swap very few people do, an Atlas ll8 out of a chevy trailblazer. You keep the I6 layout, get good power and torque stock, they can be turbo'ed on stock internals, you can find tuning options for the stock ECU, and they're are reliable as hell. JZ's are awesome and all, as are some of the other options that have been mentioned but how many other cars have LL8's swapped into them making this even more unique

94
Tom Fredericks

Go with an engine swap very few people do, an Atlas ll8 out of a chevy trailblazer. You keep the I6 layout, get good power and torque stock, they can be turbo'ed on stock internals, you can find tuning options for the stock ECU, and they're are reliable as hell. JZ's are awesome and all, as are some of the other options that have been mentioned but how many other cars have LL8's swapped into them making this even more unique

95

gah. first i'm jealous that you have a project car at all, i just don't have the space for two cars, let alone the space to really do anything with the car i do have, but then you go and make your project base a totally awesome '69 crown wagon? i think i hate you right now

96

gah. first i'm jealous that you have a project car at all, i just don't have the space for two cars, let alone the space to really do anything with the car i do have, but then you go and make your project base a totally awesome '69 crown wagon? i think i hate you right now

97

Cmon 7MGTE!

98

Looks great mike! love the patina this thing has, keep up the good work!

99

Looks great mike! love the patina this thing has, keep up the good work!

100

Idk if you want to, but I think a 2JZ would be bad ass, or even a 1JZ. Nothing like a straight six, and I think the exhaust note would suit the car well.

101

Keep it Toyota, 1UZ or 7M, stand out from the JZ crowd!

102

@Jason Hardy This is the stupidest thing I've read all week, and we are only on Thursday!!!

103

1JZ, oil cooler through the missing headlight. Also sum super sweet jdm wheels yo

104
JoshuaWhitcombe

dont forget to check the interior for pubes /mighty car mods reference

105

Why not try something a little different....M30/50/60? Better yet, S38 or newer?

106

@Mike Garrett How close is it? Got a link to an article or forum somewhere with it so I can have a look?
 
I just think that it needs a big engine with bucketloads of torque like a V8, and I'm a massive fan of keeping engine swaps within the family; i.e. toyota into toyota, nissan into nissan, etc

107

Rattle can respray and a set of Cragars.
(Also a pine tree air freshener is needed).

108

Of all the things that can be said, i will say only two, one, is out of personal taste, the other, is something i think its needed with a rare car.
1st: Make sure the tires have some sidewall
2nd: let it rust, but (if the car is as rare as its said) don`t let it die!
 
Now go forth and be awesome!

109

your idea sounds good, maybe a beams engine, sills sitting on the ground, widened steel wheels, whitewalls and hubcaps and ratty body, maybe chuck a luggage rack and some fender mirrors too?

110

SC400  auto 1UZ, hydraulics, black small wheels (i vote 100spoke 13" wire daytons, yes, in black. no chrome), whitewalls, and ceiling tassles.
fender mirrors, roof rack with random awesome shit on it, battleship grey paint with B52 bomber style nose art.
and a justin beiber tribute in the back like those japanese tribute cars, but way more demonic and fucked up. lipstick over his face and X's scratched over his eyes. weird shit, keep the theme running.

111

Those wheels look great on it actually. Just need a refurb.
 
Restore it completely so it looks kinda factory, but drop a k20 or a 4AGE in there.

Author112

@milkplus I've been thinking about a 3SGE. I think I'm going to keep the car automatic for now so I'm not sure how good the BEAMS/auto combo works.

Author113

@Tom Fredericks Very interesting...

Author114

@ComJive Haha. Having extra space was one of the reasons I decided to move from LA to Central California.

Author115

@Joshua Mead Thanks for the support!

Author116

@mbretschneider Understood! Haha.

Author117

@dead rabbits Sounds cool!

Author118

@weasel Hahah. Most imaginative suggestion yet!

Author119

@Crook I'd be down for some resto stuff if I could find the parts. Anyone got a lead on a rear bumper and driver side rear door window?? Haha.

120

Hi Mike!
First time posting here. I own a 1967 Crown Custom (just like yours) and swapped a 5M-EU in it. Not the most powerful engine but just enough to go cruising. After contemplating over swapping a 1J, 2J, 1UZ, and even a small block 350, I chose this engine because there was little to no modifications needed and pops right into the factory mounts (less hassle!). A powerful engine is appealing but, you'd have to make extensive modifications in order to make the car run properly. Plus the frame and body wouldn't be able to handle that kind of power.
Next time you're in Japan, I can show you mine....
http://www.crown-classics.com/events/07cp/b/0457.jpg

121

I would do a 5mge/6mge/7mg(t)e swap.  it's the most easiest and there's no need for custom mounts. You can keep the stock tranny or install the 5 speed gearboxes from the mk3 and mk2 series supra. More hp sound appealling, but to keep it driveable I wouldn't go jz or uz unless you upgrade the whole drivetrain. This is my dads car, it has the 4m engine from a ms65 crown  http://www.toyota-klassik.de/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=1006

122

4agze, small, but plentiful

123

"I’m very much leaning towards the idea of lots of low, cool wheels, a cool engine, and a body that looks more or less as it does now"
I agree. And If I were to choose the engine, it would be of Toyota bloodline.

124

Want to go weird and off-the-wall with the engine swap?     VW  VR6!!  maybe with a turbo...

125

look forward to seeing how its gna turn out man and by the way, your right, it doesnt matter how much you get done there just a proper unbeatable feeling of satisfaction when you make forward progress in a project no matter how small. keep it up! =)

126

That’s kind of required a lot of time and attention but at the end it’s worth it and that what matters most… Cheers!
http://www.trafficsignpro.com

127

There aren't enough 1UZs out there. Aside from easily fixable header issues, this is a perfect candidate.

128
ElizabethBraker

Hi!  I have a 1969 Toyota Crown (coupe) & I would like to sell it to someone who can use it.  We stopped the upkeep over 15 years ago & we just don't have the intention to restore it anymore.  It's a fair condition & we could probably make it run.   We are located in Idaho (great weather for old cars).  I also have loads of spare parts...a windshield for example.  Please let me know if you are interested.

129

Mike Garrett My MS65 bay wasn't big enough for a 1UZ but the 2J and 5 speed auto slipped in very nicely indeed(so will any Toyota straight 6). Go obscure swap if you have the time and energy for it, but I'd rather be rolling around asap.

130

Mike I'm restoring my 68 wagon to original. I was wondering if you would be willing to sell the gearbox and shifter. It is the last piece of the puzzle that I need. Let me know thanks
Sal
Yodamouse@gmail.com

131

Hi Elizabeth can you contact me if you still have the crown. Thanks sal. Yodamouse@gmail.com

132

hey man,
i have a coupe that i have done a bit of work on and its my favorite cruiser. it has a 4M in it with factory twin carbs. its slow but its been reliable so far (fingers crossed).
i also have a couple of Celicas, one with a 1UZ and one with a 1JZ. the reason I'm telling you this is that i have a pretty good base of cars to give you advice on what engine to put in the crown. i would go with either a 1UZ or a NA 2JZ. the UZ will give you great power with amazing throttle response when you want to give it a bit and it will cruse all day without using to much fuel. the best thing about UZ's is how they rev. factory redline is near 7K and they rev so effortlessly and sound amazing when they're doing it.

anywho its your car so do whatever you want to it but thats my 2c.

good luck!

http://oldschool.co.nz/2011/forum/index.php?/topic/24337-sheepers-ms51-crown-which-is-on-the-road-and-cursing-like-a-boss/


http://oldschool.co.nz/2011/forum/index.php?/topic/21439-sheepers-1976-ra28-celica/


http://oldschool.co.nz/2011/forum/index.php?/topic/21440-sheepers-1976-ra23/?hl=%2Bsheepers+%2Bra23

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