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!