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Thread: Nailing down early Toyota history in the USA

  1. #1

    Nailing down early Toyota history in the USA

    There seem so many places to get vague information about the early Toyota days in the US. I find one source, then another, then another and end up getting confused because my notes get erased and scratched over, etc.

    I'm really trying to nail down the years and chassis codes for the earliest Crowns, Coronas Tiaras and Stouts. I'm also trying to wrap that information up in an easy-to-view format. Here is what I have so far:

    Here is a topic that I posted on the TORC site almost two years ago:

    1st-Gen - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    The first Crown seems to have been the RS30 model. Production began in 1955 with the R engine (1.5L) and then later offered with the 3R engine (1.9L). Stepho's site does not show the RS30, but says that the RS22 sedan and RS26 sedan were imported to the US starting in 1959 and ended sometime in the 60s. Other sources claim that the Crown did not hit US soil until the 1957 model year. Wikipedia states that the first generation Crown ended in 1962.
    - What years were the Crown imported?
    - What was the chassis code(s)?
    - What years were each engine offered?

    2nd-Gen - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    From 62-67 the 40-series was produced, according to Wikipedia. Stepho's site has no information for US-spec cars. I need any information I can get.
    - Was the 40-series imported to the US at all?

    3rd-Gen - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Looks like the third-gen was only imported to the states from 1968-1970. There was an MS53 wagon and an MS55 sedan, both with the 2M engine (2.3L). Stepho's site shows production through January of 71... wondering how that affects the model year sales in the US. Was the 1971 Crown a 50-series or a 60-series? Was there overlap?
    - If this car was produced through Jan of 71, how could the 4th-gen be a 71 model year?

    4th-Gen - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    The fourth generation was from 71-74, and came in three models: sedan (MS65), wagon (MS63) and hardtop (MS75). Only 30 hardtops were imported in 1971. All cars came with the 2.6L 4M engine. Stepho's site shows production ending in 1972.
    - Is the chassis code of the wagon MS63 or MS70?
    - Did prodution really end in 72? Where did the last two years of inventory come from? ... thread=291
    and then there was this helpful reply by gaijinshogun...

    As a big fan of these cars since the day I was born ;D(I came home from the hospital in my Dad's Japanese spec '62 Crown), I can shed some light on it's brief U.S. history in the U.S., from 1957 (Toyota's arrival in the Continental U.S.) to 1972 from the top of my head. In the past there have been various articles published on the history of Toyota in the major automotive magazines, but I note that there were some inconsistencies amongst them.

    The first Crown sold in the U.S. was the 1958 model year as clearly documented in the following Toyota USA brochure: ... %201958%22.

    This car did not have any success in the U.S. and was discontinued from the U.S. market after a couple of years. The next two generations of Crowns, the MS40 series and the MS50 series, seemed to have the greatest marketing efforts and sales in the U.S. indicated by the cars I have observed for sale in the past 25 years and the U.S. Sales literature available. You will note, these are the models that you will see most often for sale on the Internet. The MS60 series was introduced to the U.S. market during 1971 and discontinued in 1972. However, cars titled as 1971 Crowns can be from either the MS50 or MS60 series.

    By the time the MS60 series was introduced to the U.S., Toyota was no longer seriously interested in selling the Crown here. This car is usually missing in the U.S. Toyota line brochures of the period. Apparently, Toyota USA did not offer the car to journalists at the time to conduct road tests. One unique fact regarding the MS60 series is that it was the only Crown sold in the U.S. as a Sedan (MS65), Wagon (MS63), and Hardtop 2-door (MS75).

    I can only speculate the Crown was terminated in the U.S. market due to the following:
    1. Lack of sales
    2. Introduction on an upmarket and up sized Corona MK II also utilizing the 4M six. The Corona Mk II had already an established U.S. following
    3. High price relative to the competition
    4. The upcoming U.S. bumper requirements would require a major redesign
    5. Overall marketing consolidation of models in the U.S. The Japanese market had room for small model variations which would be confusing in the U.S. market. Another example of this is the termination of the Carina model for the U.S.

    In the US, the Crown doesn't have much of a history except for being the first car they sold here. Even during the years it was offered, we only received a single mid-line trim level. At the same time in Japan, there were pickup truck versions (El Camino style), sport versions with twin carburetors, and luxurious ones with power windows and rear air conditioners.

    In Japan the Crown model has always been an important staple for Toyota. Today the Crown is offered in many different variations from a Taxi model (Crown Comfort) to a Lexus like V8 model (Crown Majesta).

    Hope my rambling helps....
    I just wanted to repost those because they seemed helpful. What I would really like is for someone that is more knowledgeable than me to lay it out so that I can easily document it on my site for other people to use. I think I have the Stout stuff down, and the Crown stuff has some holes in it, but I don't have a very clear idea about the early Coronas or Tiaras.

  2. #2
    ...and regarding the early Coronas..

    So the RT20 was the first Corona brought here... called the Corona, right? What years? And the RT30 was the second, but called the Tiara. I'm pretty sure the Tiara was only sold here officially in 1965. Then the RT4# and RT5# were sold as the third US Corona from 1965-1969... so it was sold along side the Tiara for one year?

  3. #3
    Dang, everytime I start trying to research this on my own I end up totally confused. At this point I'd be happy with just matching a photo of the car to the chassis code.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Salem, OR
    First off, that's a really cool site you have.

    As for info on the models, I have a copy of The Standard Catalog of Imported Cars which lists the first generation Crown as being sold in the states from 1958 to 1966. They were available as RSL 4 door sedans, Custom 4 door sedans, 2 door wagons and 4 door wagons. It also says that the 1453cc engine was standard from '58 through '60 and the 1879cc engine was used from '61 to '66.

    Oddly, the book groups the S50 and S60 Crowns together, being sold in the states from '67 through '72. It lists the 4 doors as MS55 and MS65, while the wagons are listed as MS53 and MS63. The 2M was in the Crowns from '68 to '71, switching to the 4M for '71 and '72. Maybe the S50 only had the 2M and was sold through '71, overlapping the S60 with the 4M in the same year. I really don't know for sure. The S60 was probably still sold in Japan until '74 even though they stopped importing it in '72.

    The Tiara is listed from '61 through '66 and only having the 1453cc engine, probably the same one used in the early crowns. The Corona is listed as being introduced in '66.

    All of this info came out of this book, but I've found small errors in it before so some of this might be incorrect. Hope that helps.

  5. #5
    OK, so as far as the Corona goes...

    The first time it was sold in the US under the Corona name was in 1966 as the RT43 sedan with the 3R-B 1.9L. I have the 3R-B from 66-67 and the 3R-C from 68-69, but I just learned that the 3R-C was the California version of the engine... can someone illuminate that? Was the 3R-B and 3R-C offered at the same time, just depends on the state the car was sold?

    The coupe was the RT52, and I'm starting to suspect it was sold as a 1967 model through 1969. I can't find any record of a 1966 coupe, so I am going to change that. A page I found mentions that the coupe was sold as a 1969 1/2 model, but the sedan was sold all year. I don't know what that means, though... wasn't there a 1968 Corona coupe? I'm gonna email the guy to ask for clarification:

    So on my chart I have changed the sedan first model year from 1965 to 1966 and the coupe first model year to 1967.

    On a side note, one of the brochures I found online for the 68 Corona had the name "Rambo Motors" printed on the corner, and an address right here in Portland. Sure enough, that is the location of Broadway Toyota, the dealership closest to our downtown core. I don't think its owned by the same family anymore, but its worth a shot to head down there and find out more. Cool. ... 7894713122

  6. #6
    And now on to the Tiara...

    Well, according to Michael Foertsch (Toyotageek) the Tiara was only sold officially in the US for one year -- 1965, and only 318 were sold: ... thread=754

    He says it so definitively that I want to believe he is accurate. I have emailed him, though, to find out more about that. What I don't know is if the US Tiara was an RT20 or an RT30. Looking at the photos above I would say that they are the same car... but I don't have any confirmation that the photos are accurate yet, so I dunno. I'm guessing for now that the US Tiara was an RT20 because Google searches seem to come up with a lot more information than "Tiara RT30".

  7. #7
    And lastly, the Crown...

    OK, it makes sense that 1958 was the first year it was sold in the US, that has been documented fairly consistently. I changed that from 1955 on my chart.

    So what is the difference between the RSL and the RS2# chassis codes? Once again I'm looking at the photos above and the bodies seem to be identical, with some differences in the grill and lights.

    Stepho's site shows the following...
    20-Series Standard RS20V (no years listed) Engine: R, Body Style: 2DS/4DS
    22-Series Sedan RS22L 59xx-6xxx, Engine: R?, Body Style: 4DS
    26-Series Wagon RS26V 69xx-6xxx, Engine R?, Body Style: 2DV/4DV
    32-Series Deluxe RS32 1959-, Engine: 3R, Body Style: 4DS

    There are some typos in his chart that make me question the accuracy, but the 1959 brochure lists the Crown Custom Sedan as the RS22L and the Wagon as the RS26V... so we know that those are right.

    Now another brochure that I don't know the year (but am assuming is a 1965) shows the Tiara, Crown Custom Wagon (2d or 4d)and Crown Custom Sedan. The second page shows this:
    Crown Custom Sedan: RS22L
    Crown Custom Wagon: RS27L ... aCrown1965

    Uh oh, we've got a problem. I just found this brochure on eBay: ... dZViewItem

    It is a U.S. brochure that shows the S40 model as the 1965 Crown. An wikipedia says the first-gen Crown was 55-62 and the second gen was 62-67.

    So we have a conflict here. One brochure shows the 1st-gen Crown and Tiara as being sold the same year, Toyotageek claims the Tiara was only sold officially as a 1965, and another brochure shows the second-gen Crown as a 1965.

    This is why my brain always hurts after I research this stuff. Someone PLEASE help me.

  8. #8
    OK, I'm gonna walk away from this for a little while. I just realized that I didn't even have the RS4# Crown on my page... I really don't know why. I think it might be because Stepho's page doesn't show any US imports for that model. I just found some US brochures for the RS4#, so it must have been here. Grrrr.....

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Georgetown Ma
    Great site you have there!! That shows a lot of work and dedication. Have you tried emailing anyone a toyota direct, or maybe the toyota museum in Japan?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by TSiSS350
    Great site you have there!! That shows a lot of work and dedication. Have you tried emailing anyone a toyota direct, or maybe the toyota museum in Japan?
    No... I figured the enthusiasts would probably know more than anyone at Toyota, but I might just have to do that.

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