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05 July 2012

Classic Toyota Hunt: 1989 Crown is Philippines' earliest locally-manufactured Toyota

Words and photos by Jose Carlo R. Sapera
classichunt_mainTo celebrate their 500,000th production unit in the country since 1989, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) launched the search for the earliest locally-manufactured Toyota vehicle back in March 2012 called the “Classic Toyota Hunt.” 
The mechanics were simple. Simply present your oldest locally-produced Toyota in your nearest Toyota Dealership and stand to win a brand new Innova. Of course, vehicles must be in running condition to qualify, and its engine, body, and chassis must be original, not modified and tampered with. And after the searching the entire nation, Mr. Anthony G. Chengliong and his 1989 Toyota Crown Deluxe emerged as the winner.
Prized Possession
A 31-year-old businessman from San Juan City, Metro Manila, Anthony’s romance with the Crown began over twelve years ago when he bought the one he drives today from a family friend. He learned about Toyota's contest through a friend who knew about his locally-made Crown and encouraged him to join. Not expecting to win, Anthony only submitted his entry on the very last day of the contest. Well, we all know how that turned out.
In a statement Anthony expressed: “For me, my 1989 Toyota Crown is a very reliable and sturdy vehicle…The quality of the engine of my 23 year old vehicle is still good and tough. As for the parts even though the car is already past two decades old, it is affordable and still widely available in the market.” 
We were able to see Anthony's prized possession quite recently, we were surprised by what we saw. This Deluxe variant came with manual roll-down windows, power side mirrors, and a four-speed manual gearbox. The interior was in great shape for a non-restored car. Its blue-colored fabric seats were in pristine condition and there were no traces of cracks on the leather door panels, steering wheel, and dashboard. And quite astonishingly, both the original in-dash CD and cassette player still work perfectly. 
Anthony offered to give us a quick chauffeured ride around the Greenhills area in his classic Crown and we gladly obliged. You'd expect rattles on a 23-year-old car, but we didn’t hear any on Anthony's Crown. The paint is still original, though showing its age. There are some dings, scratches, and discolorations on the bumpers and panels, but otherwise untouched. To date, the 1989 Crown has clocked more than 74,000 kilometers on the odometer and has never overheated or stalled. The only things Anthony had replaced in 23 years are the usual wear items, such as tires and wiper blades. 
Toyota's Testament
The car’s longevity is a testament to Toyota Motor Philippines commitment to manufacturing vehicles with outstanding quality. For Anthony’s patronage to the brand and faithful stewardship of this historic car, TMP rewarded him with another one. It’s not a Crown, though, but Anthony is happy to receive a brand new Innova. “I’ll  use the Innova for family and business. This will likely be a start-off vehicle when I have my own family in the future,” commented Anthony.
During the awarding ceremony, TMP President Michinobu Sugata and other key officials inspected the vehicle and expressed their astonishment at its condition. They were even more amazed to learn that it was driven all the way down to the Santa Rosa plant instead of it being brought in on a flatbed. 
“We are fueled by our customer’s continuous patronage in owning a Toyota vehicle because of their trust in the brand. This only inspires us more to continuously provide them with excellent customer service and unmatched product quality,” said TMP President Michinobu Sugata. 
Even with his new Innova, Anthony will still be keeping his trusty Crown. And maybe in 20, when TMP builds its 1,000,000th unit, he'll still be able to drive it down to Toyota’s plant to claim his next prize.