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.
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.
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
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.
There aren't enough 1UZs out there. Aside from easily fixable header issues, this is a perfect candidate.
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! =)
"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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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
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
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>
Those Ranger wheels actually look pretty darn cool on that wagon. I'd powder coat them black and roll with them.
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.
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!
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.
honda k20 motor on ITB's get it low, some cool wheels and leave the bodywork alone and go drifting!!
Has to be a NA 2JZ on either carbs or ITBs, the J series is just the "new" M series after all (factory engine).
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.
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!
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.
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 ;)
"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)