When it comes to automotive esthetics, a case could be made that there are three kinds of cars: some are beautiful all around, some are ugly through and through (looking at you, ‘70s Nissans), and some just have that one angle that works. As far as I’m concerned, the 2nd generation (1972-76) Toyota Mark II hardtop coupé lies squarely in that last category. And the angle that works is the ¾ rear.
When I saw it coming down the road, this Mark II’s face struck me as needlessly finicky and tortured. Never mind the wrong (‘80s Celica?) wheels, the whole car was a bit weird. This was my first IRL encounter with one of these, as far as I can remember, so not a great first impression.
Ah, but then, a moment later, things changed. That was quite the good-looking derriere! Fortunately, the car slowed down and parked a few meters down the street – a closer look was warranted.
Yeah, really not a fan. Some unconventional ‘70s Japanese designs really work for me (e.g. the S60 Kujira Crown, the Honda Z360 or even the Nissan Cedric/Gloria 330), but this early model Mark II GSS is just not one of them. It looks like it’s wearing a big fake grin, and I don’t see why it should be so happy about anything.
Ok, to be fair, the profile is a bit better than the front end, but still a tad derivative. About the car, briefly: the X20 GSS was the sporty one of the bunch, featuring a 145hp 2-litre DOHC 4-cyl. engine – Toyota’s main Skyline-fighter. Other Mark II variants included a saloon and a wagon (X10), as well as the previous generation’s pickup, which lingered on for a couple of years.
The obligatory mid-life facelift did not really help, far from it. The nose got a bit more prominent (by 55mm, due to changes in the engine’s exhaust system, apparently) and dressed with a body-coloured trim piece / grey plastic louvres combo. The tail didn’t change much. But the picture of the saloon shows that, well-designed and taut though it may have been on the coupé, it was pretty horrid on the four-door, which looked like a melted and overgrown Morris Marina.
I guess that early model grille was a bit less offensive, by comparison. To add further insult to injury, the JDM Mark II was distributed by the Toyopet network, and was thus badged as such. That name, which was only eliminated from the cars in the ‘80s, is another (Toyo)pet peeve of mine – pointless and silly.
That name is unfortunately present on the rear end, which is the only real blemish of this picture. Incidentally, peeve number two, WikiPedia claims that the “Corona” name was dropped from the Mark II from this generation and was only used, if at all, on sales literature. That’s clearly not the case here. Incorrect info on Wiki? Now there’s your shocker.
Car Show Classic: Supra-powered 1973 Toyota Corona Mark II Coupe, by David Saunders