Rare 1972 Toyota Crown De Luxe Saloon makes a royal comeback

Article by Christian A., on February 27, 2017

When the Crown De Luxe saloon was first released in 1972, it was at that time the most lavish Toyota model available to British customers. Both unusual and exclusive, one unique feature was a compartment in the boot that was refrigerated. Without a doubt, this was a truly rare machine. After a quarter of a century placed in storage, this magnificent specimen is slated to make a comeback.

What makes the story even more interesting is that not only will this rare Crown model make a comeback, but it will be joining the family of its previous and original owner. The full details of this story were shared on Toyota’s official blog in time for the 45th anniversary of this model.

Originally bought by Percy and Ethel Cole, a couple in Surrey, the list price of this unit back then was £2,303, which today would be somewhere around £29,500. The Coles made sure to take good care of it, such as not driving it at speeds of more than 30 mph. When not in use, the coupe would keep it in dry storage. In fact, Mr. Cole did not even remove the “running in” sticker that was placed on the rear window, mainly to support his preference for driving slower.

Mr. Cole’s passion for the Crown came from his father who also had a previous generation of this model. Though his father gave that car to him, Mr. Cole bought himself a newer Crown Coupe but in the same dealership that was located near Guildford. When Mt. Cole died, his son took care of the Crown saloon for a decade before finally putting it to storage. It stayed here until October 2016.

While the family was still deciding on whether it they would proceed with contracting work to make it roadworthy, it was spotted by Robin Shepherd, a classic car enthusiast, while in the garage. Recognizing at once that this was a rare model, he not only bought the car but also made sure to have the needed repairs done to it. The goal of course, was to make it working again to cruise Surrey Hills.

The story did not stop there as Shepherd would later learn that a close friend Nick Garrick, who himself was also a classic motorcycle enthusiast, was the grandson of the original owner. As such, he was able to be part of the anniversary photo shoot and shared his memories of being inside the Crown saloon while it was still new.

For those not familiar with this model, the Crown remains to be the longest running model from Toyota. It was originally targeted for the Japanese market and originally launched in 1955. This model would later be released in the U.S. and the U.K but low sales would force Toyota to stop sending it to the U.S. by 1974, and remove its availability in the U.K., some years later.

Press Release


In 1972 the Crown De Luxe saloon was the most luxurious Toyota British customers could buy. An exclusive and unusual car in its day – there was even a refrigerated compartment in the boot – it is now an exceptionally rare machine, which makes the emergence of a fine example from 25 years in storage all the more special.

Not only has this time-warp Toyota returned to the road, it has also been reunited with the family of its original owner, as detailed in a full feature newly published on the official Toyota blog to mark the car’s 45th anniversary.

The plush model was purchased new by Surrey couple Percy and Ethel Cole, its list price of £2,303 equivalent to around £29,500 in today’s money. It was treated with great care, rarely driven above 30mph and kept in dry storage whenever not in use. Mr Cole even kept the original “running in” sticker displayed on the rear window to excuse his preferred slower pace of driving.

His enthusiasm for the Crown was inherited from his father, who owned a previous generation model, and was passed on in turn to his own son, who bought a later-model Crown Coupe, from the same dealership near Guildford. Following his father’s death, Mr Cole junior cared for the Crown saloon for another 10 years before putting it into storage, where it remained untouched until October last year.

While the family considered whether to commission the work needed to make the Crown roadworthy again, the car was spotted on a garage forecourt by classic vehicle enthusiast Robin Shepherd. Impressed by its looks and recognising its rarity, he purchased the car and had the necessary repairs made, so that the venerable Toyota can once again cruise serenely through the Surrey Hills.

In a coda to the story, Robin later learned that Nick Garrick, a close friend and fellow classic motorcycle enthusiast, was a grandson of the Crown’s original owner. He was able to join Toyota’s anniversary photoshoot and share his childhood memories of travelling in the car when it was brand new.

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Topics: toyota, classic car



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