Another rare and eye-catching upload from S. Forrest, who must be on his game lately, this second-generation Toyota Corona Mark II should just be thought of using the second part of its name. The new-for-1972 car got a unique platform and six-cylinder engine and would spend the next several generations sold in the US as Cressida, so let’s just think of it as a Mark II.
We remember the first Cressida as a frumpy little thing, but this coke-bottle shaped sedan embodies some of the best early-seventies styling cliches, appearing sporty next to the cars which would follow in North America. Innovative it wasn’t, but it at least borrowed from the best in creating its own style: check out the full-width taillight panel and beautifully integrated bumper. Just the sort of flashy tail needed to cruise through a Japan on the upswing.
With a width of only about 63 inches, though, the car was marketed to North Americans as an economy car with luxury features. So though its mission on these shores was decidedly different, I can imagine the first buyers of the new, six-cylinder Mark II must’ve feeling like they stumbled on a very good secret in buying such a smooth running, well-equipped and unexpectedly dependable car (until rust set in, anyway). As the subsequent Cressida’s permanently minor role in the US showed, a luxury-economy car of that sort was somewhat of a dead end and a new image (soon provided by upscale brands) would be necessary for the Japanese to sell their grander cars.
Some of us will always love the more specialized cars sold under mainstream Japanese nameplates regardless. A car like this belongs alongside the Supra whose wheels it wears, and has a place next to the Previas, Preludes and RX7s (among others) which define the cool Japanese automobile in my mind. Judging by the dark green ’98-ish Tercel parked in front of it, the owner of this car is a bit of an old-school Toyota nerd. Who could blame him (or her)? Cars like this help us to remember that they once had some real mojo.
As is typically the case, when American customers didn’t notice their coolest toys, Toyota packed them up and took them back home. The Mark II continued in Japan until 2004; the very cool ’70s-inspired styling and straight-six engines, on the other hand, didn’t manage to last the entire time. The car is still sold today, only now as the Mark X, to what I imagine is a dwindling pool of buyers. I’d be interested to know how much longer the car, which loosely shares its chassis with the Lexus GS, will manage to last. My guess is the introduction of Lexus in Japan was done to slowly ready the domestic market for the day when development of separate models like this will cease to make sense, but that’s a discussion for another day.