My car actually is a 2003 Toyota Crown Estate Athlete V. Quite a mouthful, I know, but you’ll want to get used to it, because I guarantee you won’t be able to leave the house in it without someone asking you what on Earth it is.
The Crown was only released in Australia in the late ’80s, but the production of this car didn’t stop in Japan, though, hence I had to buy one that was freshly imported. I spent months on end trying to find my glass slipper, however nothing on the Australian car market either suited my needs or fell within my price bracket until I stumbled upon the Crown. I had known what the car was, I had just never given it enough attention.
The JZS171 model was importable from 1999 through to 2003, and for a car of this age it has as many bells and whistles as most modern cars released today: automatic swing vents on the air-con, all seats electronically adjustable, yes all, even the rear, sat-nav, HID headlights, a powerful straight-six 2.5-litre turbo motor and 4.0-litre V8 in the Majesta variant, a drink cooler/fridge in the sedan variant, and much more.
The car is not light by any means, but the addition of these strong and powerful motors makes it feel like you’re driving a luxury sports car, not to mention the amount of engine modifications available online sees some owners pushing well above the 500kW mark in these types of Toyota chassis. About as much as you would expect from a motor found in the early Toyota Supra.
The Crown will make you feel like royalty when you are cruising, with comfortable leather seats, a big firm steering wheel, and big centre console armrest. It’s hard not to drive one-handed while you sink into pure comfort. And for when you need to give it some go pulling onto the highway, the turbo kicks in and effortlessly pulls you up to speed.
The Crown Athlete really is something unique – a glimmer of a missed opportunity in the Australian car market. I encourage more people to look to imported cars and not be scared to take the risk to own something different.
The 170-series Crown really is the pinnacle in the Crown range. Although dated, it is far superior than even current-model cars. This quality and attention to detail have been carried on through to later and current-model Crowns with constant improvements, so if the older styling isn’t for you, I guarantee there is a Crown out there that will catch your eye.