By on October 23, 2018

Comfort, spaciousness, luxury, formality. All of these things mattered to the early-1990s Japanese domestic sedan buyer. Today we take a look at a sedan that possesses all of these qualities in spades. It’s the Toyota Crown Royal Saloon, from 1992.

Earlier this year, we looked at a direct competitor to today’s Crown in the form of the very formal and very doily Nissan Gloria Brougham VIP. The Crown would’ve sat in the Toyota showroom down the street, vying for the same conservative sedan customer yen.

The Crown nameplate is the oldest still in use by Toyota. Starting off as company’s full-size offering back in 1955, the Crown has continued undisturbed in its sedan-ness for over 60 years.

By 1992, the Crown had entered its eighth generation. Following its debut for the 1987 model year, it was available in sedan, hardtop, and wagon variants. The hardtop version was the first body style separated from the eighth-generation trio, as the last year it shared a platform with its siblings was 1991.

Between introduction and an overall refresh for 1991, the Crown was gifted with a number of firsts for the Toyota brand. In 1988, Crown became the first Toyota model offered with an airbag. 1989 saw the introduction of a CD-ROM navigation system — a world first.

For its 1991 facelift, the hardtop Crown moved on to a new platform (S140), while the sedan and wagon versions still rode atop the S130. Visual modernization accompanied new engine offerings, where two JZ-GE inline-six units joined several other available engines. Engine choice depended on trim selection and desired purpose — four, six, or eight cylinders were available.

In this case, having a larger engine meant more real estate. Swapping the 2.5-liter 1ZJ engine for the 3.0-liter 2ZJ meant a wider car, positioned in a higher Japanese tax bracket. Prestige was evident with a wide-body Crown, as the tax bracket mandated a different license plate.

With regard to prestige, the Crown Royal Saloon seen here represented the top of the food chain. A wide body and a 3.0-liter 2ZJ engine borrowed from the Supra ensured luxury motoring status. Every accessory is powered. There’s separate climate control for the rear passengers, who also have access to a cooler. The grey exterior is complemented by a grey wool interior of superb quality. With just 48,000 miles on the clock, this spotless Crown Royal Saloon asks $7,245.

Worth noting: the Crown’s lineage continues today, with a brand new 15th generation on sale this year in Japan.

[Images: seller, Toyota]

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27 Comments on “Rare Rides: Formal Luxury Via the 1992 Toyota Crown...”


  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    Wow I actually like that new Crown’s front end better than any current Lexus.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Quibble. “Every accessory is powered’. Isn’t that a manually adjustable passenger seat? Or do seats not count as accessories?

  • avatar
    gtem

    Now THAT is a car. Fun fact: these are body-on-frame. Incredibly sturdy beasts, a good number of used Japanese imports were pressed into cab duty across Siberia and the Russian Far East. Very highly regarded, there are big owner club meets, songs written about them, etc.

  • avatar
    TR4

    I rode in one of these as a taxicab passenger in Japan. The curb side rear door opened electrically.

  • avatar
    James2

    Anybody know what’s the idea behind those fender-mounted mirrors?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The forward location minimizes blind spots, and makes the overall width a bit smaller to squeeze into a tax bracket.

      • 0 avatar
        WallMeerkat

        I thought that the wide bodywork and high tax bracket was a badge of honour amongst the rich who get driven in these, as evidenced by the special ‘high tax’ licence plate described in the article?

        Or is it a case that they want to display the high-tax licence plate as a sign of success, but the high-high extra-wide car tax licence plate is a bit too vulgar? Suppose that’s why they chose a Toyota over a Rolls Royce or LHD (prestige in Japan) S class…

        I’d assumed they were just a retro/conservative feature, old-English-car (see Basil Fawlty’s Austin 1300) style wing mirrors rather than new-fangled mirrors on your doors. (Ever driven a Euro cab-forward 2nd gen SEAT Leon? The mirrors are halfway down the doors!)

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Crowns are ultra-conservative luxury cars for ultra-conservative Japanese business men and politicians. Beautiful cars that probably wouldn’t have gone over big here except in Lexus form

  • avatar
    Vanillasludge

    I first encountered these in the early 90’s and my impression then holds today..these are the best built cars on the road. Toyotas from this era are on a level that has yet to be equaled.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      There’s no denying that the Toyota stuff we get on our shores today is a shadow of that era. And frankly, the stuff made for their own internal market has followed that same general trend.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Here lies our conundrum; is a Toyota/Lexus that is decontented from peak Toyota/Lexus still top of the heap?

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I think they are still a safe bet mechanically, but you’re no longer poking around the car in amazement at the over-the-top attention to detail. In fact, I’d avoid looking too closely, you’re bound to find cynical cost cutting almost anywhere you look.

          • 0 avatar
            James2

            My parents’ 2016 ES must be $1000s cheaper to build than the 2009 ES they gave to my sister. From tinny-sounding body panels to less supple leather, the thing reeks of cost cutting. I don’t know how much it costs to dumb-down the suspension but it even rides harder than the ’09. Or maybe that’s the Akio Effect: a harsher ride is more exciting, not that the handling is any better.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      @Vanilla

      Agreed. A colleague’s Dad has an ’87 AE86 that, two years ago, suffered a broken, original, serpentine belt – at 320,000 Kms. The guy used to race, too, so it had been wound-out several dozen thousand times. Those old Toyotas were amazing. I’ve driven the above Corolla. I traded him my CTS-V for a weekend. What a blast. At 3500 RPM in fifth gear on the highway it took just a flex of my big toe to make the thing get up and dance – this from a car that’s 31 years old.

  • avatar
    brn

    The seats look super comfy, but that’s one ugly car.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    These are great,but I actually like the taller,dorkier,and squarer Crown Comfort better.

  • avatar
    peeryog

    I think I read somewhere (and it was probably here) that the Japanese consider these wool seats to be much more luxurious than leather because they are quieter.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yep, squeaky leather is uncouth and less comfortable. For the Japanese, leather is a taxi-grade durable and easy to clean material.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      I think I also read somewhere that they didn’t like the smell of leather.

      • 0 avatar
        GS 455

        In the past leather was only used in convertibles because it was durable and able to withstand exposure to the elements and chauffeured cars used leather only for the driver while the passengers sat on fine cloth seats. In the late 50s European roadsters with leather seats started coming here and Americans got the idea that leather denoted “luxury” when in fact it was simply utilitarian. Domestic car makers started offering it in high end sedans because they wanted to emulate European sports cars while Japan (Toyota) and Germany (Mercedes) continued to offer cloth for it’s most discerning customers for many years.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I’ve always appreciated this generation of the larger Toyotas, be it a Crown, Cressida, LS400, or Land Cruiser – the style and durability were impressive.

  • avatar
    road_pizza

    Wish I had room (and the extra $$$) for that car. What a ride!

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