Continuing a stroll through Toyota Australia history via the Toyota Car Club’s show at the just-closed Altona North factory, I’ll start with the Japanese pony car – Celica, which debuted in Japan in 1970 and Australia in November 1971 with a 1.6L engine. Because it has the fuel filler relocated to the pillar (from between the tail lights), this car would be a 1973-75 model.
This is the interior, which is a neat, stylish design with some interesting features such as the right-hand circular air vent (in the closed position) which mimics a gauge position, contrasting with the central and left-hand rectangular vents. It also has a pair of horn buttons on each steering wheel spoke, so presumably a city/country horn. The lack of a full-length centre console shows its age, as this was becoming more common by 1970; the Celica is a pretty narrow car though, just 1,600mm/63” wide.
The revised first-gen Celicas that came to Australia in mid 1976 are more common, with five at the show compared with two of the earlier type, including this immaculate coupe. The easiest way to tell them apart is the square instead of trapezoidal indicator/turn signals as the 85mm/3.3” wheelbase stretch is harder to pick visually unless the cars are side-by-side. An important change was an upgrade to a 2-litre engine.
The similarity of this fastback to the coupe above is uncanny! An interesting note is the fuel filler is on the opposite side to the standard coupe, perhaps a nod to the North American market?
Of course the Celica fastback really apes the 1969-70 Mustang, and is directly comparable in being based on an everyday sedan, in this case the Carina which fell between the Corolla and Corona in size.
As with the Mustang, there were performance versions too, powered by the 1600cc twin-cam 2TG engine. While this was a good deal smaller than the 2-litre engine commonly seen in other Celicas, it did put the car in a smaller class.
The Celica is still a good-looking car, especially when restored like this, and no doubt contributed strongly to the rise of the Toyota brand.
The comments in last week’s article discussed the derivative/conventional styling Toyotas had in the 1960s, however the Crown had some fairly unique US-influenced styling over the years, although some of the elements on this MS73 model from 1971-74 such as the slot above the not-quite-loop bumper and grille are fairly unique to this car. Or is there something else that looks like it? Incidentally the wheels on this car are an Australian design, the Rebel, which I like. These cars have a 2.6L version of the smooth inline six.
As is typical for Australia, the coupe version is not very common although it is probably a purer expression of the styling theme. Note that the bumpers are largely painted, which must have been one of the earlier times that was done. The car also has Superlite wheels and a custom bonnet with a Mopar-style bulge.
The coupe’s tail lights are less distinctive than the sedan’s. The painted bumpers again show chrome accents. I would expect the coupe variant was fully-imported, rather than assembled in Australia, as this would seem more efficient for a low-volume variant.
The bulge is on the bonnet because this one has a V8 that I had initially assumed was some type of late-model Toyota – but with a distributor that is not the case, perhaps an early type? The carburettor is not that significant, as it is relatively easy to cast a manifold to accommodate the Holley carb seen here. There is a lot of custom work on this engine. Does anyone recognise it?
There were a pair of the X10 Mark II, which marked its separation from the normal Corona even though it still retained that name in some markets; it was a completely different bodyshell, and had a 6-cylinder engine. I think this is a pretty stylish car, especially when in mint condition with a nice metallic paint job as here.
This car is a 1976 model, bearing its original registration number (but re-issued slimline plates), as well as Supra wheels. By now the engine had been bumped from 2.3 to 2.6 litres.
There was another version that may be a little more original. The wheels are a more period style, although wider than what would have been typical for the era.
This car was replaced by the full-Brougham Monte Carlo-inspired X30 Cressida, a name that was only used on export markets. It was also one of the few names thus far that was not connected to Toyota’s favourite crown theme. Again this 1977-79 one has been converted an “old-school cruiser” vibe with some original diameter three-piece wheels and small diameter tyres, front spoiler and JDM-style mirrors.
More popular than the fairly expensive Crown or imported Mark II/Cressida was the Corona, and these 1974-79 T100 models had the 18R 2.0L four. They were the Camry of the 1970s, with all of the good-solid-car and not-very-exciting that implies.
Mind you the colours on these two cars are definitely not boring! The wheels on this one, a 1974 car from the original registration plate on the dash, are from an early 80s X60 Cressida. Using later model OEM wheels is usually a good idea, as they tend to fit in with the older styling strangely well.
Land Cruisers are a fixture in Australia, ever since Theiss Constructions imported some to use on the Snowy Mountains Scheme hydroelectric project in 1958. The J40 series ran from 1960-1984, so chances are these are from the 1970s. This FJ40 is a highly modified rock-crawler, with the original leaf springs replaced by coils as well as some chassis modifications (if not a replacement chassis).
Here is the interior, note the rear-mounted radiator and raised wheel arches to allow extra travel, hefty roll cage and what appear to be cup holders mounted in the doors!
By contrast this FJ45 Troop Carrier wagon is much more standard, even retaining narrow wheels although I’ve never seen wheel covers like that – surely they can’t be original? The bull bar is typical of those seen in Australia, note the diagonal bars down to the chassis rails to reinforce the bar, as well as the tow bar. Note that in Land Cruiser lexicon the F as in FJ45 indicates a petrol (gasoline) engine compared to H denoting a diesel. The red sticker on the registration plate indicates it also can run on liquid petroleum gas (LPG), not uncommon on thirsty vehicles because it is roughly half the price of petrol.
The Corolla went from strength to strength as each generation passed, and the K30 really hit its stride with its extra size over the previous one. It was also the first time the four-door was sold in Australia, which had to help.
While the sedan was overwhelmingly the most popular, the KE55 hardtop coupe was a more sporty option. One was highly original…
… while the other is perhaps more representative of a coupe owned by an enthusiast. The alloy wheels are a locally-produced version of those on the Dukes of Hazzard Charger.
Because these Corollas were so common, there was a real range of cars present from an immaculately restored van version – a window- and rear seat-less version of the wagon.
All of the previous Corolla themes are repeated too! Motorsport themed – can anyone place the livery that is represented here?
A highly modified coupe with flared wheel arches etc.
And a pair of 1981 sedans, the last for this generation. One with period multi-piece wheels.
And another that was standard except for anachronistic white-walls.
Seeing as the bonnet is open, let’s have a look at the 1.6L 4K engine. Beautifully detailed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a preserved original car rather than a restoration/repaint.
To bookend the post I’ll finish with more Celicas, the A40-50 generation introduced in November 1977 in Australia. For a long time I used to prefer the fastback of this generation, which in itself isn’t my favourite, but the coupe seems to have a bit of tension to the notchback area compared to the fastback.
Here is a remarkably-preserved fastback; the only change I can see from showroom condition is a replacement registration plate (still the original number), due to a “production problem” with the reflective paint applied in the jail where they were produced. Now, what might you contaminate paint with in a jail…
This coupe has its original plate, along with a few modifications; some period, some newer. This model is remembered from its Bathurst 1000 racing campaigns, a fuel filler problem in 1978 saw a crew member attacking the boot/trunk lid with an axe! It also carried the first Racecam in 1979, a full size camera (70kg/170lb+) with remotely-controlled pan/tilt functionality that broadcast live to air, including audio from driver Peter Williamson.
Finally a facelifted fastback from 1980 or 81, which has a twin cam engine fitted; most likely a 2TG or derivative. I think it is a better look than the Roger Moore-surprised look of the earlier car, and also a taste of the very square Celica that was coming. And which will also be coming in next weeks’ installment!
Car Show Classics: Toyota Australia – Marking The End Of An Era, Part 1
Another great installment!
The X10 Mark II is a great looking car that I wasn’t all that familiar with. The grill is slightly reminiscent of a 1961 Pontiac.
The FJ45 Troop Carrier wagon almost looks like its wearing 80s Taurus hubcaps with holes cut in the middle. An odd sort of look.
Thanks David. 80’s Taurii didn’t make it down here, so I would guarantee it is not those!
I’m 90% sure the square-headlight grille on those E30 Corollas is unique to Australia. 1979 was the last model they were made in Japan for export (and the last JDM version was ’78), so Toyota must’ve been pressing panels there by 1980.
Thanks for the info, it has added to next weeks’ installment.
Regarding the looks of the S70 Crown, I refer you to this most excellent analysis by your countryman D. Andreina; https://www.curbsideclassic.com/automotive-histories/automotive-history-toyota-s60s70-crown-thunderwhale/
Essential reading, to be sure. Probably my favourite Toyotas of that decade. The ‘Kujira’ and its strange “we had a bit of grille left, so let’s just put it on top” design always struck me as an involuntary homage to the ’61 DeSoto.
And as to that V8, I don’t recognize it off-hand, and don’t have the time to hunt it down, but I suspect someone here will. It looks appropriate in that engine bay.
A Google Images search of that early 70s Crown shows it with body colored bumpers and with full chrome bumpers, the body color look suits it better. Here in the southeast U. S. these Crowns always had a half vinyl roof, a look that really messed up the styling.
My favorite here is any of the 2nd generation Celica models, though the Mk II models look fairly attractive.
Great nostalgia going on here. I really like the looks of the 70s and 80s Celica, well ahead of the Capri visually for me, and remember admiring that A40-50 hatchback back in the day.
Thanks for the tour!
“It also has a pair of horn buttons on each steering wheel spoke, so presumably a city/country horn.”
I presume that the horn had a different tone and/or loudness according to which button was pushed?
A correction to the Racecam information – the first camera in 1979 had no movement and no audio from Peter Williamson.
Yes that is what I meant.
On the Racecam I will split the difference – they could hear Peter, but not talk to him. Happy to believe that the camera was stationary at first.
That V8 in the Crown coupe sure looks like the V8 from an early 70’sToyota Century. The engine used in the Century was the 4V series all aluminum V8 engine, a 3.4L carbureted engine with pushrods, and as you see a distributor. Those valve (not cam) covers make it look like a much later Lexus V8 but they did not have centered exposed spark plug wiring like that.
That was my guess, but I didn’t have the time to confirm it. Nice looking mill.
Front accessories are very different, also.
Thanks Nick – I knew someone would id it.
Regarding the colored bumpers on the S70 Crown hardtop, the early A20 Celica, which had similarly shaped flush bumpers, offered colored elastomer bumper covers as a factory option, which I think was Toyota’s first production exercise in body-colored bumpers. I’m not sure what they cost, but they don’t seem to have been very popular and were discontinued by the first facelift. (I don’t assume this car’s bumpers were stock, although I’d have to check to see if elastomer bumpers were offered on the Crown hardtop.)
Body colored bumpers were a factory option:
My understanding is that there were two ‘generations’ of the kujira. The first came with the body-coloured bumpers, and the second (as shown on the yellow sedan in John’s piece) had chrome bumpers with body coloured ‘chin’. Note the driving lights – on the first gen they were set on either side of the top grille, on the second gen they were placed in the fender just above the bumper. I’ve never seen a first gen with full-chrome bumpers.
The X10 Mark II looked exotic to me as a kid, and still looks nice.
The original 1.6 in the Celica had little or no emissions equipment in ’71. Though pushrods, they were crossflow and firey little engines. The 2 litre that replaced it later (with emissions attached) was the dreary revless OHC from the Corona, and slower.
The ’74 Corona was advertised as “When your heart says Europe, but your head says Japan.” Bam! Just as plenty of folk were being burned by their properly-lauded but utterly hopeless Passats, we’ve got a good-looking 2 litre for you that’ll actually work. As I think I said in the previous post, Toyota had a long habit of making rather decent-looking cars which the press too often dismissed as dull. As these photos prove, there’s something about the proportions, the neatness, perhaps, of Toyotas that has enduring appeal.
Uniquely for a CC post, over many years I have driven every single example of the cars pictured here (bar the rock crawler or V8 coupe, natch).
And every single one was just dispiriting. Poor steering, poor ride, bad seats, underdamped and roly-poly handling, uninspiring engines, huge wind noise. Their excellent gearchanges, ventilation, ergonomics and general ease of operation (not to mention reliability) were often absent in the vastly nicer Euro alternatives, which is of course much of why the Toyotas sold. But I still don’t want one.
The best was the original Celica, which was almost fun; the worst by far the X30 Cressida. They forgot to attach the column to the power-assisted wheel in that one, which may have been intentional as the motor was surely attached forward of the front bumper so dire was the handling. Sweet if slightly gaspy engine could move it quite smartly, a waste, as 50mph was the limit before you wanted to abandon ship.
Really looking forward to the next post, John, as Toyota did some amazingly great things in the ’80’s and ’90’s.
With ’70s Toyota engines, there were a bunch of different states of tune, not all exported. There was also a twin-cam version of the 18R 2-liter, for instance, with about 25 hp more than the regular non-crossflow OHC and more willingness to rev (although still not as smoothly as the smaller 2T).
Long-wheelbase A20/A30 Celicas handle a good deal better than the early cars, although the steering is still kind of hopeless.
Yep on all accounts; that twin cam 18R-G was fairly advanced for the times and is a game changer in these cars (yes, I’ve driven one that was swapped). The recirculating ball steering is a big demerit, however.
We didn’t get any twin-cams in period (bit effervescent & exotic for the Aus of the 1970’s, might stain the carpet don’t you know), but the tough pushrod crossflow was easily, and commonly, hopped-up.
I have driven the later Celica you mention (a glorious one-owner 500k cared-for resprayed special), and actually remember the first-gen one being a better handler.
But that’s memory of course. Where I am reliably both Michaelangelo and Don Juan.
The Celica’s wheelbase stretch and wider front track, late in the run of the first generation, helped the balance quite a bit, reducing the propensity for the front end to wash out early. Combined with 14-inch wheels, it increased skidpad grip by more than a tenth of a gee, which was only achievable on short-wheelbase cars by changing the mounting points of the front control arms. Because of the recirculating ball steering, they don’t feel all that different, but in a curve, the long-wheelbase car’s front end will stay with the program a lot longer before deciding to head for the hills.
I think there were a tiny number of 2TG’s, just like Ford brought in the minimum 25 Escort RS2000’s to homologate them to race.
Love the MK2 Coronas I had a 74 which was the first of the 2.6 4M cars, I also had a 73 MK2 hardtop for parts with the 2.2 2M engine the rocker shafts are the same in both which is why I got it that the wheels towbar and five speed conversion were all harvested then the remains were towed to the Cygnet rubbish tip, dumped between a PADSX Cresta and a UK MK2 Consul ute.
Well, kiwibryce, now we know – it’s YOU who helped destroy all the Curbside Classics! Cygnet rubbish tip indeed.
Admittedly, I only drove an auto MK2, so was only left with a smooth (if tappety) motor and silly-low gearing. A five speed would lift it heaps, thought still leave a dullard Corona chassis with horrid dynamics. And seats. And the rest.
The Corona six was my partners car it was payment for a 59 VW Beetle rebuild for a friend, my daily hack at the time was a 82 323 van and I still had my 63 EH special our Corona was auto and would cruise at 120kmh indicated gearing was low but perfect for hilly Tasmania it could tow a tandem axle trailer with VW split screen van on at a comfortable 100kmh, handling wasnt the best but adequate like most Japanese cars and certainly better than early 70s Australian cars, those dynamically awful the best I ever had were Valiants.
I haven’t seen a Celica older than around a 1995 model in years, even in someone’s driveway or with grass growing up around it. I don’t recall seeing a 1st gen one since around 2000. I imagine parts are either expensive or unobtanium to make them so scarce. That makes me sad, as I wanted one with a passion back in high school because I got the Mustang connection right away.
It would be much better now with the internet than back then! Also now there is more interest in restoring the Celicas, more parts will be reproduced. Not Mustang/Camaro levels, but better than 20 years ago.
they are pretty rare to come by.I have seen some models of about the 1985-1989 and 1989 to 1994 about the place and 1994-1999.anything past that is pretty rare to this day.I love the second generation front wheel drive models and was as a teenager although not old enough to drive at the time in 1992 very disheartened when my father suggested the idea of one of those brand new for something my brother and him can both enjoy driving he chose a boring N14 2.0L Nissan Pulsar one of the last of the Australian made models,If he had said yes to Celica who knows what might have happened after I got onto P PLATES after doing the theory and all those lessons in learning driving in the late nineties.It might have got me away from thinking about Festivas and those bits of fun trendy cars for the new age of youngsters at the time and I would have been happy to accept.as for what happened to that Pulsar it’s long gone and since been replaced with a similar era BMW.
The 2-litre Pulsar was not a bad goer for the time. There is one parked near work, although I think it is the imported version. I could tell the difference at the time, something changed on the front fascia but I forget what!
Those CALTY Celicas sure look good without the damned US spec bumpers!