The Toyota Crown 2.8 Super Saloon
MANY years an Ineone in Australia who had close anion rinse with Rolls-Royce
aeronautical products, and therefore knew good engineering when he encountered it. told me how satisfied he was with a big Toyota six-cylinder saloon, at a time when the Japanese penetration into Europe had scarcely begun. I have ever since been interested to know more about this car and. with the different makes of smaller Japanese saloons now looking more or less all alike. It was nice to be driving away from the Birmingham Motor Show in the latest Toyota t :sown Super Saloon, with its 2 8-lion overhead-camshaft fuel-iniect ion engine. if only to enable me to keep abreast of what Me challengers are dithig.
The Toyota Crown is an impressive-looking motor car, rather like a crib of a big Frud us Vauxhall of a few years ago. Inside. all is spaciousness, detailed convenience. with extraordinarily complete equipment and mod.
motoring cons. The specification is nyentional front-engine, back wheel die c, with a live rear axle. The six-cylinder 83 x 85 nim. i 2.759 c.c. engine has a 7-bearing crankshaft, Toyota electronic fuel-injection, breakerless ignitio, . a chain-driven ii h. camshaft, and an aluminium cylinder head. The drive goes via an Alsin-Warner 3-speed automatic-transmission in conjunction with an auto-selected rwerdrive. This ingenious overdrive can be locked out by a switch on the facia but there is so much performance available with it in use that I had it in operation almost throughout the test. The gearing is very high, though bettered by the Rover 3500 SE which does 2.693 r.p.m. at 80 m.p.h., the Toytna’s engine doing 2.965 nil., at 80 m.p.h. in .d top. but the Rover is 740 c.c. larger. let me say here and nilw, before you get the impression that this is a very big and therefore fuel-thirsty car, that the 191.3,1ong, 105.9-wheelbase Toyota returned m.p.g. figures of from 24 to 25. and will, apparently, give from 27 m.p.g. to well over 30 m.p.g.. if driven reasonably pussy -foot. So here is an impressively big. very spacious car of truly notable 4-star economy, and as its fuel each holds 15.8 gallons:, the range is highly commendable, too. It is also a very soothing car to drive. The engine is very quiet under all ordinary conditions, and inaudible when idling. The coolingfheater fan makes just a hiss, on any of its three speeds. The gearbox has the expected hold-bottom and second positions but they arc seldom called for. The Toyota Crown is fitted out with almost every conceivable piece of equipment birdie creature comfifrt of its occupants. Air-conditioning (although I really needed a course on this to learn how to use it to the best advantage!, press-butIon and lever to release the boot-lid and fuel-tiller flap without leaving the driving scat, recirculating air-condtt toning tor the rear occupants, incorporating a freezer to take four beer-Lang!), with their own controls for this and the radio. the most sophisticated self-seeking, volume -compensating radio imaginable, driver’s seat adjustment in three dimensions, up, hack-end litreand squab-angle, with 3-degree lumber support adtustment as well. Ini erior
lighting that comes on as a key is turned in a door lock, electric windows, make-up mirror normally concealed in the big lockable cubbyhole, tnap-reading lamp, front and back compartment reading-lights, retracting rear-mat headrestraints, plenty of Ulterior slowages, a sinfen-digit with decimals mileometer iwatch it, Volvo!, in the speedometer, which dial is matched by a neat, smaller tachometer dial. sensible warning lights. Engineering-wise them are 24 electric fuses protected by three final links, separate driving-belts for viscous-coupled coolant fan, the alternator and the air-conditioning pump, and even chocks to aid tyre-changing. An idea of the practicality of the equipment is provided by the self-opening boot release with an override within the cubbyhole, which can be locked, preventing access by the driver alone. There is an unusual forrn of central door-locking, by first locking all four doors from a switch on the driver’s door sill:then using the pip to unlock this door, rebuking it from without with the key. I prefer the more conventional central locking. There is a digital clock, shining no brightly at night, when, although the facia-lighting can be doused with a rheostat-switch more effectively than in the Rover, there remains too much brightness from the complex radioistereo panel and the illuminated gear-position indicators. The engine will run up to 5,800 r.p.m. before the red-warning line on the tachometer dial is reached and it develops 145 DIN) h. h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m.. and 123 turque at 4.000 r.p. — nice lazy unit. The power steering. geared 35u turns. lock-to-lock. is satisfactory without being in any way outstanding. Acceleration is impressive. even in ofd, being of the order or It to 60 m.p.h. In 101/2 seconds. while top speed, for what this is worth, is around 113-114 mph There is generous carpeting about the interior ot thus impressively-large car, its seats, upholstered in thick moquette, are …fumble, the boot large
and unobstructed, with the spare wheel under the floor and the tools neatly in a locker. The aforesaid very fine radio has an aerial with a facia switch for extending and retracting it. There are Cibie dual halogen headlamps but on dip the beam was lethally inadequate. The reversing illumination was excellent; perhaps I should have driven the Crown backwards after dusk. Thinit altogether such a fully-equipped, such a convenient big saloon that it is very competitively-priced at £8.840. So why are we not all driving them? The reason lies in the poor roadholding and indifferent ride after you have compared the Crown with a Ford Granada or Opel Senator or Vauxhall Royale!. The dim/drum servo brakes arc very light and nicely progressive in action but the steering of the Japanese car is too vague, but can be lived with, for it is pleasantly light. The Toyota Crown’s cornering is another matter. There is initial gripless understeer that quickly turns into had oversteer and the lack of grip in the wet can be quite disturbing — I had an embarrassing moment on a corner I know very well, coming downhill into Burford from Stow-on-the-Wold. This diminishes the Toyota Crown, in the eyes of fast drivers. But I would like to no it on tyres other than the Japanese Dunlop SP Steelexcell 70-195/70 fIR 14″ ones of the test car. For those not addicted to hurrying, and for fleet usage. thee Toyota Crown Super Saloon, by reason of tO quiet running. meetpraiseworthy petrol ‘,concur”, and its astonishingly comprehensive and well-contrived equipment, can be seen as a competitively-priced proposition. The flat. square lines are impressive, too. but I did not like the wheel trims. Certainly ii is a car well worth M.., although one all driver said he would need mom room in the driving seat. You can obtain more information by contacting Toyota 1613 lid.. at The Quadrangle, Rudhmli Surrey PHI CB
RACING CAR DEVELOPMENT The Maclure Riley to RRA
DURING 1936 and 1937 Percy Maclure was competing in all the mator British motor racing events with a Riley that vvas undergo ngcontinual development. It was one of the long-tailed Ulster IT Sprite cars, which hc ran stripped, as a pure racing car, using a variety of engines front 999 cc. four-cylinder to 1,986 c.c. six-cylinder. picking whichever size seemed to suit art event or handicap class. The difference in the lengths of the 4and 6-cylinder engines was accommodated by means of long/short gearbox tail-shafts and lon,short torque-tube ball housings.
In the winter of 1937138 he acquired the Riley works chassis with independent front suspension on the Andre-Girling swing-axle system with large-diameter and springs, which had been raced in 1936. and with it the king-tailed offset single-seater body with head fairing. Using his own car and this ex-works chassis Maclure concocted a new car for 1938, fitting his TT-type tail and a Riley radiator grille in place of the works bulbous front. He continued teeing the changes on his own collection of Riley engines. all unsuNrcharged, multi-carburetter six-cylinders, using 1.486 c.c., 1,738 c.c.. 1.748 c.c. and 1.986 c.c. capacities. He changed the original rod-operated (lining brakes kit some very special Lockheed two-leading shoe hydraulic brakes, but retained the normal racing Riley gearbox, torque tube transmission and rigid rear axle spring on semi-elliptic leaf springs. Hc.• ran a very full programme of events throughout 1938 from Shelsley Walsh hill-climb to the Donington Grand Prix and his most famous victory was in the International Trophy at Brooklands on a simulated road-circuit.
Maclure and his Riley were very popular with spectators for his driving was very fast and neat and while the car was not as sophisticated as an ERA. Alta or Maserati. he was well able to challenge such cars, and always drove bare-headed, and often without goggles.
In 1939 he acquired the famous “White Riley” which by this time had been painted blue and ca., briefly by Mrs. Kay Petrc. This can had been developed by Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon in 1933, in coniunction with the Riley Son and they supercharged the 6-cylinder engine to make a very potent sprint car. It was the guinea-pig and prototype for the original ERA which appeared in 1934. After a Brrioklands meeting with the car apparently “as bought” Maclure removed the supercharged engine and installed it in his own ifs. chasms, at the same time removing his 11′ style body and re-refitting the ex-works single-seater body with the long tail and head-fairing. In this form the car was a match for the earlier ERA cars, and according to contemporary reports he later changed the “White Rileyengine tor a genuine ERA engine, though there is S111111: ,111t1111 Jhout the veracity of this. Bs. August 1938 the can was at the peak ot its development and at the Brooklands meeting on August 7111 he came close to achieving a rerriarkable trto of victories. Short distance races were held on the high-speed banked Outer Circuit which was full-throttle all the way, on tlw winding and twists Campbell Road Racing Circuit. and on the short triangular Mountain Circuit. Alter winning a handicap race on the Catnpbell Circint , 71 34 m p.11 . Maclure was
‘ re•handicapped kit its Mountain Circuit race. and sent off from the sante inark .1, a 13-tvre ERA.
a mere a ahead of the Riley. For his Outer Circuit race he was re-handicapped vet again, but in spite of this became home first at the highly’ respectable speed uf 122.71 m.p.h., with a fastest lap at 127.38 m.p.h. Following this Brooklands meeting MacRae competed in the Imperial Trophy at the Crystal Palace on August 26t1, against ilie strongest possible ERA opposition. He was third in his heat and sixth in the final. The war in Europe then put a stop to all motor racing in Britain and Maclure wcnt to work on engineenng in the Midlands. Sadly, his health was none too gciod and he died during the war years at the early age 151 37. 1946 the Maclure supercharged Riley had found ten way into the Reg Parnell stable, and his partner Joe Ashmore had a brief outing with the car More moving on to an ERA. then went to the Reece family in Liverpool who were running a racing team under the aegis 01 their
mistier sales firm Blakes of Liverpool. 1947 the car was driven extensively for Blake:: by Mrs. Sheila Darbishire. and she took part in sprints. hill-cInnits. airfield races and in the British Empire Trophy race held in the Isle of Man. It mar fundamentally as Maclure had last raced it. but the frontal treatment had been altered, a rounded nose cowling replacing the elongated Ribs grille, and the long tail and headrest had been replaced Ova smaller and lower tail similar to the Ti’ Sprite tail. Sheila Darbishire set up a number of ladies’ records with the car and frequently finished in the first three in the I ‘ Akre racing class, usually among ERA cars. At the end tit 1948 Blakes advent., the car for sale, complete with spares, and Geoff Richardson bought it to repkwe the Bugatti he had been racing. In 1948 tt had a very active season, competing in the Jersey Road Race. the British GP and in hill-climb and sprints, being entered as an ERA-Riley and its best performance was third place in the speed trials at Luton Han, behind a 2-litre ERA and a 3.8-litre Alfa Romeo. The following winter Richardson dismantled the car and used the engine and gearbox and some of the front suspension components and various bits and pieces to construct his own special, on a new chassis frame made by RobertOwen, with Richardson independent rear suspension, which he called RRA (Richardson Racing Automobile, The Maclure Riley as such, was gone. The chassis body and such bits as were left were sold and disappeared into the misty unknown, while the engine was rebuilt by Richardson and ultimately enlarged to 2-litres. In 1955 the engine was removed from the RRA chassis and sold to an
ERA owner, and the engineless RRA with some bits of the Maclure Riley still on it, was sold. Thus the Maclure Riley in I,-litre supercharged form was last identifiable as Richardson raced it in 1948. In recent years the chassis and some other bits came to light. owned by a Riley enthusiast in the Midlands, who earlier had acquired much of the Maclure unsupercharged Riley engine components. The RRA chassis is also still in existence an there are two projects under way. one is to re-create the Maclure Riley in 1,986 c.c. multi-carburetter form, with the Lis. chassis as raced in 1938; the other project is to build up an ERA engine and re-create the original RRA that stemmed from the Maclure Riley in its supercharged form. What will not be happening is the creation of the Maclure Riley in its ultimate 1939 forrn as shown in the accompanying photograph. — D.S. J.