Thursday, February 11, 2016

Toyopet Crown: 1st Toyota Export to the USA

Toyota's Toyopet Crown (1955-1962) was first exported to the USA in the fall of 1957, marking the start of the Japanese automobile "invasion," as it was commonly called for many years. One of the first American Toyota dealerships was within sight of the Seattle house where I grew up.

Background on the Toyopet Crown is here.

Toyotas didn't sell well at first, perhaps because foreign cars were still a rarity and some of which quickly gained reputations for poor reliability.  The only really successful import was the Volkswagen Beetle which dominated the market through the 1960s.

Toyota had to regroup its American effort and the rest, as they say, is history.


1958 Toyopet Crown Custom advertisement
Yes, here it is in America!  Isn't that SanFrancisco's Golden Gate Bridge in the background?

1955 (ca.) Toyopet Crown
I think this is a 1955 Toyopet Crown: note the divided windshield not seen on later models.  The fenderline is dropped below the belt in Harley Earl's General Motors 1950 B-body fashion.  The dog-leg C-pillar is one of many that predates BMWs signature sedan feature.  The strip above the front wheel opening is awkwardly-placed.  Plenty of glass area gives the car an airy appearance.

1957  (ca.) Toyopet Crown ad card
Only the grille features the fussy detailing often found on 1950s Japanese cars.

1959 Toyopet Crown Custom
I don't have a source for this photo, but I'm using it because it clearly shows Toyopet rear styling.  Note the almost-tailfins that serve to make the car look a little longer.  That seems to be a dent between the tail light and the backup light at the left.

1959 Toyopet Crown Custom
The grille design has been cleaned up a bit here.

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