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A 1968 Toyota Corona Coupe, an End of Luxury

A 1968 Toyota Corona Coupe, an End of Luxury

Today’s Rare Ride hails from the first two decades of Toyota’s North American tenure. The Corona line was midsize, luxurious, and the pinnacle of the company’s offerings on this continent.

Come along and experience Corona.

The Corona was an all-new car for Toyota in 1957. It was created as successor to the Toyopet Master, which was a taxi and fleet vehicle sold alongside the similar Crown sedan. Once Toyota saw the market for the more luxurious Crown, it cancelled the Toyopet Master and replaced it with the less expensive Corona to create some distance from its flagship. The Corona then took the mantle as a smaller and less luxurious sedan.

A short first generation from 1957 to 1960 (T10), was succeeded by a second generation that existed from 1960 to 1964 (T20/30). Today’s Corona is part of the third generation, which spanned the long seven years from 1964 through 1970. Introduced just prior to the start of the ’64 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Toyota’s new model trailed the introduction of a new Nissan Bluebird (its main competition) by a full year. So the new car could be a bit larger and more expensive than prior versions, Toyota introduced a new car to serve the lower end of the market starting in 1966: the Corolla.

The Corona was available in a shocking six body styles. Customers chose from two-doors in pickup and hardtop variation, a three-door van, four-door sedan, and a five-door wagon and hatchback. All were front-engine and rear-drive, utilizing inline-four engines of 1.2- to 1.9-liters of displacement. Transmissions had two, three, or four speeds, with the two-speed as the automatic offering. Keen to show the longevity of its new mainstream car, Toyota tested the Corona on a Japanese expressway for 100,000 miles. Able to sustain very high speeds of 87 miles per hour, it reached 60 in just over 15 seconds.

In 1968 a new larger Corona debuted, the Mark II. An increase in size and equipment brought the model upmarket, and the new car even shared some features with the pinnacle Crown. The Mark II in this guise was built through 1972, and was the next-largest vehicle to Crown. It was still sold at Toyopet Stores, however, which meant it wasn’t as illustrious as vehicles sold at Toyota Store locations. The introduction of the Mark II signified that the end was near for the Corona as a luxury model.

In 1972 the Corona Mark II received its own platform; it was larger, more powerful, and more luxurious than the Corona which spawned it. For the rest of its life (d. 2001), Corona would be an economy-focused vehicle that occasionally ventured into sporty territory. It passed away after merging with the Corolla-like Carina and Caldina models.

Today’s Rare Ride is beautifully restored in baby blue. With the largest 1.9-liter engine and a four-speed manual, this very rare Toyota did not sell recently when listed for $30,000.

[Images: seller]

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