November 2, 2008 -
Words: Kirk Hubbard & Ben Hsu / Photos: Kirk Hubbard
he Toyota Crown occupies a place in Japanese life similar to that of the Chevy Caprice in the US. It's been a taxi, a police car, an upscale sedan and, thanks in large part to Mooneyes
, a hot rod. For 19 years, Mooneyes has been celebrating Toyota's workhorse platform with its annual Crown Picnic.
The show begins with Toyopet-badged kannon
Crowns from the 50s and moves up through the generations to the kujira
Crowns of the 70s. During this time in Japanese history the area of Honmoku, Yokohama - where the picnic is held - was occupied by the US military and many of the cars on display show a strong American influence on customizing style.
Speaking of history, our man on the scene Kirk said that it was an interesting challenge to identify all the wheels on the cars as they had their own Japanese history to tell from styles that span from early Italian to mid-80s JDM to mid-90s Boyd billets, and finally to later US-style Enkeis. He also tells us that, while these Crowns are not necessarily pristine showcars or of the JDM-style that we in the US like to see, if not for Mooneyes showing the way most of these cars probably would have been crushed. Thankfully, a new appreciation for the once-unremarkable Crown lives on instead.