The Toyota Crown has a rich history since 1955. As of today, it is the longest running passenger-car name plate in the Toyota range. The Crown is also first passenger car to be developed and built entirely in Japan.
Despite being a car meant to solve public transport, the Crown became an instant hit with Japan’s upper class, as well as with taxi companies and government agencies. Naturally, Toyota chose it to be the first car to be exported to western countries, where it remained until 1983, the year that the Camry took over the export market.
The Crown is now well into the 14th generation, has brought plenty of new technology to the automotive world and is now only available through grey imports, since it was dropped by the authorised distributors. A sad fate, shared by its other competitor, the Honda Legend.
If you are confused about this Crown, and taxis that once ruled Singapore, the Crown Comfort taxis was actually smaller than the standard Crown, and it was a purpose-built model for the sake of bringing the Crown back to its roots, of being a taxi.
The Crown however, has powered on to become the hallmark of Japanese luxury, with several Lexus models being Crowns with minor design changes and continues to be a collector favourite. We personally have met up with the local owners of the fourth generation, tenth generation and now this, the thirteenth generation Crown. With such a long running name, it can easily be the Toyota’s legendary car. Eat your heart out, Tofu Sprinters.
Onto the next big thing from Japan, the art of VIP Car. What was once was linked to the Yakuza (Japanese syndicates), the art of styling a car to be a high performance cruiser, yet being as low profile as possible. Such big sedans offer a sense of reprieve from the boys in blue, as sporty compact cars became the main target of crackdowns by the police.
Toyota differentiated this 13th generation Crown into three distinct models. The Royal was a more comfortable and luxurious car; the Athlete series which is just as luxurious, but has more aggressive styling and sporty features and finally, the Crown Majesta which is more luxurious than the Royal. Wanting to go back to the roots of the VIP Car, the owner decided to go with the Athlete model for its more powerful engine choice.
The art of making a car look more luxurious than it is, has always been revolving around a very simple concept: A premium Japanese rear-wheel drive sedan, with a sporty body kit, matching wheels, and lowered till the wheels tucked into the arches. This art has slowly trickled to other cars from other markets, such as Korean, European and American cars, but the argument is that non-JDM cars were not considered pure VIP Cars – which has led to the creation of VIP style, and quite possibly sparked off the free-form “stance” culture which could be done to any car, econo-box or high-performance alike.
Naturally, nothing in Japanese car culture is ever set in stone. The VIP Car itself has seen the “stealth” black, grey, white or silver look evolve into eye-catching neon pink or green finishes. This time, the owner decided to go with a compromise, with a deep and rich brown metallic paint – which he used for his previous ride, the awesome-sounding Lexus GS we featured a while back.
The deep brown finish did not mask the aggressive style of the full Job Design kit, which came with its own diffuser and exhaust ports at the back. To complement the body colour, a set of staggered Work Gnosis CV201 two-piece wheels in 20-inch size – ordered from the factory in custom rose gold, with the matching hub covers to boot.
Even more impressive than the wheel/car match, is the extremely low ride height, made possible with an Accuair management with E-levelling with airforce adjustable air struts. The wheels were made to tuck into the arches courtesy of the hardrace camber kit on all four ends.
The interior stays posh and plush with fine Japanese leather, but further enhanced with the right accessories like mini Nobori Flags, functional containers and fans proudly displayed on the mirrors and dashboard – including the custom table bolted on the passenger side. There is no hard and fast rule here to the choice of accessory, except one: It must complement the car.
The switch to a Crown may be odd, but being an fervent VIP Car enthusiast, his rides continually follow the current trend of VIP tuners in Japan, whom have been working on less-expensive premium sedans as bridging luxury models started going out of production. Even by doing so, he has injected a unique take on the VIP Car with his own style – and that is what this culture today is about. Respect!
Toyota Crown Athlete
Accuair management with E-levelling
Airforce adjustable air struts
Brembo big 6 pot with 380mm rotor
Work Gnosis CV201 20” special rose gold
F: Pirelli P zero 235/35/20
R: Dunlop Sport Maxx 275/30/20
Hardrace camber kit front and rear
Full DAD interior
Pioneer AVH 8850
Pioneer Amp x 4
Job design full bodykit