About ten and a half years ago, we told you about the oldest known Japanese car officially imported to the US. That car was a 1958 Toyopet Crown, which was then auctioned on eBay and purchased in part by the Tupelo Automobile Museum in Tupelo, Mississippi. Unfortunately, that museum is closing and all its cars, including the now-restored Crown, are to be auctioned off.
The Crown was originally owned by by the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco. After putting just 28,698 miles on the car, the consulate signed over to the title to its second owner in 1964 and it sat in a garage for 44 years.
In 2008 it was auctioned for $22,322 and purchased by the Tupelo Automobile Museum and Tupelo’s Community Development Foundation in honor of the Toyota factory that opened in the city in 2007. Restoration took about three years and was completed in August 2011 (the photo above was from when the car was listed on eBay in 2008; you can see current photos here).
The car currently resides at the Tupelo Automobile Museum along with 176 other cars. All of them are being auctioned off as the museum closes. We don’t know where the so-called “Tupelo Toyopet” will end up, but we hope it finds a good home. It’s a rare chance to own the earliest known Toyota (and the oldest known Japanese car, period) officially imported to the US.
UPDATE: We received an email from Kurt Ernst of Hemmings, who corresponded with Stephen Mancuso, the Tupelo Auto Museum’s Director of Collections. Mancuso wrote: “Unfortunately we do not own the Toyopet. It belongs to the city due to some poor management of the restoration. The museum paid a large portion of the restoration but the city found the car and somehow it was titled to the city during the process. It will not be included in the sale.”
So it looks like the Crown might stay in Tupelo after all. Perhaps the Toyota factory there would be a good home for it!
Thanks to Mike F. for the tip.