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The Toyopet Kid: 1960

The Toyopet Kid: 1960

In answer to countless requests for photos of 13-year-old boys smoking pipes while driving the automobile ultimately to be called the Toyota, I hereby submit this 35mm Kodacolor negative my brother took in January 1960. Full disclosure: it's my brother's unlit pipe and I'm not driving. I'm in a parked 1960 Crown Custom at Hil Probert's Toyopet dealership in Larkspur, California. That's our house up the hill at the top right. Note the special bonus for fellow Shorpy obsolete car make aficionados. View full size.

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Toyopet Power

I was stationed in Japan with the Navy in the late 1960's. My buddy and I owned a 1962 Toyopet Crown that appears to have been nearly identical to the one in the picture, but with right hand drive. There was a mild hill near the base, and if there were more than two people in the car, the extra passengers would have to get out and walk up the hill. I do remember we never had a mechanical problem with the car, and when we got new orders, we sold it for we had paid for it two years earlier.


My father had a car repair shop from the 30s until 1972. I remember him and his friends laughing at a Toyopet that had been in a wreck. When he took off the front fender, on the inside you could see the printing on the cans that had been used to make it.

House on the hill

About that chasm below our house: up until two years prior to this shot, that was a continuation of the gentle slope seen above and to the left, covered by acacias. One day a crew showed up and, after clearing the trees, brought in earth movers that excavated up to within a few feet of our foundation - which turned out to slightly encroach the adjoining property. Other than scaring us to death, the eyesore remained vacant for several years - during which our house fortunately remained in the spot on which it had been built in 1906. A couple years after this photo was taken an ugly apartment building was built way down at street level, as seen on Shorpy here. All of it, our former home included, is still there today. Also, kudos to commenter argo for nailing the Willys Aero identification.

Guam Toyopet

In the late '60's our family was stationed on Guam, and my dad drove a dark blue Toyopet for a short time. Judging from the color slides I've seen, it looks like a 1959 model. I can't recall the circumstances (I was 4 or 5), maybe our Coronet wagon was in the shop, or we were waiting for it to be shipped from the States. We lived on Anderson AFB, and drove that thing all over the island. I wonder what ever happened to it.

Former Toyopet owners

My, I hadn't seen one of those since ... forever! My dad owned a light green Toyopet Crown back in the early 1960s. Used, but almost new, bought through a local Datsun dealer. Toyota didn't have permanent operations in Mexico at the time, so the car was basically an "orphan" which at best got serviced at the local Datsun shop with Datsun spares. I am told that once, when the little motor finally gave up, it was refurbished completely with Datsun spare parts, from pistons and rings to valve lifters and such. Funny thing is, they fit and worked nicely in that car, making it good for another several thousand miles.

I've heard the Toyopet was indeed flimsy and had a whole lot of space under the hood - my brother used to joke that the engine was barely bigger than one of those exercise wheels they give hamsters to run in; he even said that the engine was rated at about "1 HP" (Hamster Power). Nevertheless, that car lasted well into the early '70s with the family, and in the meantime it made a lot of trips to my grandparents' home, a grueling, three-hour trip over a rutted dirt road that among other amenities crossed several BIG railroads and forded a river that could get you stuck in the rainy season. Lots of childhood adventures there!

Obsolete features

Suicide doors at the rear, but is it a working semaphore on the B pillar or a delete plate for U.S. import?


I have heard that roller skates had more under the hood than a Toyopet! I hope your family never had the misfortune to have one of these sad vehicles. Of course, that same car might be worth a fortune today.

First case of dealer buy-back?

An elderly aunt of mine bought an early model Toyopet and experienced considerable woes with its mechanical reliability. As this was a secondary product line with a well-established dealer in her town, he had the good sense to buy the car back from her. Not sure of the exact history from there, but a vague memory is that Toyota pulled out of the U.S. market until they had the bugs worked out of their export products.

You shot an Aero

I believe the dark-colored car is a Willys Aero from 1952-55, the last generation of Willys passenger cars.

The pipe was a nice touch

I never pictured your house on a hill. Maybe I got things confused, in my mind's eye with that picture of you and your brother in 1949, on your grandmother's steps.

Fill er up

In a circa 1959 car mag I read an article on one of these early Toyotas (the Tiara, I think). The reviewer noted with some surprise that instead of a regular gas cap, the fuel filler was corked with rubber stopper on a nylon string.

Look out below!

That house didn't slide down the hill and into the car lot did it? It looks like it is perched on the edge of a previous landslide.

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