August 10, 1968

Not easy to find a picture of a 1965 Toyota Crown Coupe Utility. This one was not for U.S. consumption. Interesting story behind it …

On the road, we came up behind a smoker putting along in a 1965 Toyota utility coupe, one of those oddball concoctions that started off in the front like a normal coupe and changed course behind the front doors to become a pickup truck. It was one of the first Toyotas exported to the U.S., from the second generation of Toyota Crowns that were, ironically, intended to evoke the majesty of the Chrysler Imperial with a grand, wannabe front grill that looked particularly odd on the front end of what was basically a runt-size pickup truck. It landed on our shores just when we were bickering with France and Germany over tariffs they had placed on the import of American chickens. In retaliation, we imposed the so-called chicken tax on imports of brandy, potato starch and light trucks.

Which may explain why real Americans don’t drink Courvoisier.

The specimen before us was loaded with two surfboards. The driver, a shirtless fellow with long blond hair and golden tan, held a cigarette in his right hand. He was tapping the top of the seatback along with the music and then, when it became irresistible, drumming with both hands on the steering wheel.

The cigarette flew out into the wind from an overhand right-hand flick. We caught him at a red light a little ways down the road. I was closest to him.

“Hey man, why did you throw your cigarette in the road?” I shouted over the Jefferson Airplane roaring from the coupe end of his Toyota.

“Her rattlin’ cough never shuts off,” he sang, tuned into the music. Then, in good timing, the signal turned and he putted away from us.

“It’s hard to carry a cigarette when you’re surfing,” my father said.

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