Cars & Bids Bargain of the Week: 1991 Toyota Crown

In the US, if you want a more luxurious Toyota, you go to Lexus. But overseas customers have access to luxury Toyotas badged as such. Plus, as with several other Toyota products, JDM buyers pick from a wider selection. Thanks to the 25-year rule, though, more JDM cars, Toyota and otherwise, are hitting US streets, often at lower prices than many think. And this week on Cars & Bids, one of these more obscure luxury JDM cars is up for grabs: a 1991 Toyota Crown.

Big in Tokyo: the Toyota Crown is Japanese taxi drivers’ RWD luxury sedan of choice for a reason

A white-and-gray 1988 Toyota 'S130' Crown Royal Saloon
1988 Toyota ‘S130’ Crown Royal Saloon | Toyota

Although it’s relatively unknown in the US, the Toyota Crown is a deeply significant car for the brand. While its name now appears on a Highlander-like crossover, the Crown was the world’s longest-running production sedan, DriveTribe reports. It also served as the base for the Rolls-Royce-rivaling Century, and its name is referenced by both the Camry and Corolla. Plus, the Crown was the first Japanese car ever sold in the US. In short, the Toyota Crown is a big deal.

Motor1 describes the Toyota Crown sedan “as a kind of blend between the [Toyota] Avalon and Lexus GS.” In the early 1990s, it was basically one rung lower on the luxury ladder than the Toyota Celsior, the JDM Lexus LS400. But it also occupies the same space in Japanese culture as the Ford Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town Car, Speedhunters explains—in more ways than one.

Besides its RWD layout, the Toyota Crown featured a number of reliable engines throughout its lifetime. By 1991, when Toyota introduced the ‘S140’ Crown, buyers could get not just the brand’s 4.0-liter 1UZ-FE V8, but also the same stout 2JZ inline-six later used in the Supra and IS300. These factors made the Crown popular with drifters and tuners.

The sedan’s durability, along with luxury features like optional air suspension, electronically-controlled shocks, and GPS navigation, also made it the car of choice for Tokyo taxi drivers, Autoweek says. Toyota even made versions with wider and taller doors specifically for taxi companies. And like the Crown Vic, the Toyota Crown was also a popular cop car for similar reasons.

There’s a police-style 1991 Crown up for sale on Cars & Bids

A 1991 Toyota modified to resemble a black-and-white Japanese police car parked next to a pond
Modified police-style 1991 Toyota Crown | Cars & Bids

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The 1991 Toyota Crown currently listed on Cars & Bids might bear Tokyo police livery, but it’s not actually a cop car. Instead, it’s been “substantially modified” to resemble one, Cars & Bids says. But the modifications go further than just the cosmetic ones.

This 1991 Toyota Crown rides on 18” Dress Up King wheels, hence the fender flares. It also has a remote-controlled Air Lift Performance suspension system, an aftermarket exhaust, tinted windows, and a stitched steering wheel cover. And in addition to the roof- and hood-mounted police lights, this Crown has a siren with a glovebox-mounted control module. Plus, from the factory, it has a 260-hp 4.0-liter V8 linked to a four-speed automatic, velour upholstery, CD-based navigation, A/C, and a digital instrument cluster.

The brown-gray-velour-upholstered front seats and brown dashboard of a JDM 1991 Toyota Crown
1991 Toyota Crown front interior | Cars & Bids

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While this Toyota Crown has a few scrapes, chips, and some seat wear, it’s in good condition overall, especially for a car with roughly 114,000 miles on the clock. The seller also replaced the engine oil and tires within the last 1000 miles. And the Air Lift suspension was installed this year.

This JDM Toyota Crown is a solid bargain ready to commute and drift

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As of this writing, this 1991 Toyota Crown is listed at $11,200 with three days left in the Cars & Bids auction. While cheaper examples have sold on Cars & Bids before, buying a Crown directly from an importer often costs more. Plus, this one is in good shape with interesting modifications.

Buying a JDM Toyota can mean dealing with parts issues, but the company makes replacement parts for vintage Crowns. And like the LS400/Celsior, these sedans are renowned for their reliability. Hence why they make excellent Tokyo taxis.

Admittedly, this police-style Crown likely won’t be able to flash its lights at anyone. But it offers affordable JDM luxury in a car not often imported here.

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