Ford or Holden, Mate? Toyota. ‘60s Toyota.
Owner and Photographer: Sam Smith
Year, Make, and Model: 1969 AMI Toyota Crown
Location: North Adelaide, South Australia
When I got my first car I was, and always had been, interested in the aesthetics of cars. But I wasn’t looking for anything with any compelling driving experience and certainly nothing too antiquated. I began with a fourth-gen Accord EXi (you know, the ones a semi-successful businessman in the early 90’s would drive) that I drove for some time until it eventually needed parts and my ‘I’ll do it even if I don’t know how to’ spirit really began to shine through. In response to an advertisement in the newspaper for an Accord for $500 running and registered I got a mate to take me to it where it was being sold. Cash in hand.
Unfortunately I, oh such an idealistic young teen, was naive to the sheer diversity of the proud Accord history and had come to view a FIRST generation Accord, you know the ones from the ‘70s! Whoops. But somehow, just somehow its simplicity stirred something within me. It made me want to drive some history and a desire to feel every part of the road resonated deep within me and forced the sale of the car! The sellers foot tattoos also suggested he didn’t like his time being wasted and helped the sale as well. Nonetheless, I bought the old donk! Since then, I’ve worked my way through the world of classic motoring with anything from Minis to E30s and of course to this old Crown.
I headed down to check it out about twenty minutes from my place the day after it was listed on Gumtree (a local free classifieds site). It was blowing smoke that would rival a steam locomotive, although I was assured that was the condensation from it sitting for sometime (and it was) and agreed to the sale. I had appreciated the Crowns’ style for sometime, grand yet understated, and couldn’t dismiss the opportunity to purchase a one-owner car of this vintage. Also, my girlfriend at the time said I looked good in it.
It is a 1969 AMI (Australian Motor Industries) -built MS55 Crown. It still has the original AWA Australian radio and the AMI seatbelts (for the front of course, rear seatbelts weren’t yet mandatory at the time of production). It is completely unmodified minus the headrests I had installed on the front seat for obvious safety considerations.
There are the aesthetic considerations obviously, but the most loveable aspect of this car is its position within the two-speed, traditionalist position of the Australian classic car psyche (Holden or Ford). It would take some time to really portray the dualist mindset that many Australian blokes have when it comes to classics from the 1960s and ‘70s… being “is it a Holden or a Ford?” This dichotomy often sees vehicles from that era overlooked, such as classic Japanese vehicles or even old British motors.
For me, the Crown ticks all the boxes. Imagine, if you will, a stubborn bloke running through the specs and juggling his decision to appreciate this vehicle or disregard it wholly. Deliberations arise, the sheer size of the thing is considered, the straight-6 is deemed acceptable and so is the poor fuel economy. Ultimately, the old boys muster up bench-seat memories and longneck-fuelled nights from yesteryear and conclude that in fact, “she’s a classic.”
Shifting on the column is fun and engaging overdrive on the dash is truly bizarre for myself and my passengers, I also enjoy the sounds of the sluggish 2M and the feeling that any-speed-is-fast-enough in this cruise-engaging machine. Engaging the high beams with my left foot is always a novelty too!
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