This Toyota Crown hardtop coupé MS75 (or MS70) is a photo on the back of a record sleeve. The record in question is Char’s 1978 album Thrill. By 1978 this Crown could only have been at most 7 years old as it’s the pre-facelift model!

Toyota Crown hardtop coupe MS75 on Char's 1978 album Thrill
Toyota Crown hardtop coupe MS75 on Char’s 1978 album Thrill

Japanese Elvis Costello

Naturally I had to listen to this album! Who could not withstand the sound of a Crown hardtop coupe driver?

According to Wikipedia, Char had a lot of influence from The Ventures, Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. He started the band Fox with one of his classmates in high school, covering songs by The Doors and such at the age of 11! It is impressive how young and talented Char was! Thrill is apparently his third solo album. Thrill contains a lot of funk and jazz and sometimes his voice reminds me of Elvis Costello, so would that make him the Japanese Elvis Costello?

The photo on the album Thrill

I managed to track down a bit more information on the Thrill album itself by another like-minded person that wants to know more about the background of this photo. The photos on the album cover were shot by  photographer Hitoshi Tamura. The writer thinks intent of the photo was probably the song Omotesando, which satirizes the frivolousness of the people who gathered in Omotesando in Harajuku. That almost sounds the same as Gangnam Style by Psi.

Toyota Crown MS70 on Char / Thrill zoomed in
Toyota Crown MS70 and Char on his bare feet

Char is also standing on bare feet. I can’t imagine he drove on his bare feet, so that also must have been an important statement. Anyway, the photo isn’t taken in Harajuku. It seems to be part of the Metropolitan Expressway and it really must have been early morning when they shot this photo.

What about the Crown?

The Crown is a pre-facelift Crown hardtop coupé. We know this because the facelifted hardtop coupé featured a larger chrome bumper to update the styling more with the mid-1970s taste. The pre-facelift had the bottom part painted in the same color as the body and also the separate tail lights are a dead giveaway that this is a pre-facelift model. Personally I also prefer the looks of the pre-facelift model as they are much more subtle.

It is difficult to see whether this Crown hardtop coupé is a MS70 or a MS75 model. The difference between the two is the engine: the MS70 features the 1988cc M engine while the MS75 features the 2563cc 4M engine. We can’t even use the license plate to determine this because it has been replaced by a license plate that reads Char.

Another bizarre detail is that the hardtop coupé in Japan was only sold with rectangular headlights. Outside Japan it was sold with dual round headlamps, probably to comply to the various standards around the globe. I believe these whale Crowns were the last ones sold in the USA and there it would need to feature the sealed beam headlights.

Wasabi Cars featured a near identical Crown hardtop coupé MS75 about 10 years ago, so better check that one out if you wish to see more in detail!