Twenty twenty, even without hindsight, will be remembered as the Year of the Pandemic. That was pretty evident since the spring, let alone now, as the first vaccines are being rolled out. The word “Corona” will long be associated with the year we just lived through. But of course, it was not always thus.
Until this year, “Corona” brought up a different set of mental images to the average person. Mexican light beer was an obvious one. Some of the more cosmically-minded will know that the word is Latin for “crown” and was used, for most of the 20th Century, in relation to the plasma around the sun. But then Toyota, who started using the name “Crown” for one of their products, started looking at synonyms, ancestors and translations thereof and bumped into “Corona,” so they took that for their smaller car line, launched in 1957.
The Corona nameplate lived a very long time, lasting ten generations until 2001. (Let’s see how long the virus lasts…) I recently found this late fourth generation car and figured I just had to make a post to mark the occasion and attempt to reclaim the Corona name for the automotive world. Quixotic? Quite.
Although we’ve seen this generation before on CC, it’s not had all that much exposure. I guess, looking at the one we have here, that the dreaded tin worm is probably the main culprit, because these were certainly sold far and wide and in high numbers. This was the Corona’s heyday (well, prior to the 2020 plague, anyway).
Being a JDM car, this one is badged as a Toyopet because it was sold by that arm of Toyota. Silly name, but one that stuck to the rear end of Japanese market Coronas until the end of the ‘70s. The Disneyland sticker harks back to the early ‘80s, probably – Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983.
This generation of Corona ushered in a new family of OHC engines first seen on the Corona Mark IIs, though certain lower-spec cars kept the smaller OHV engine options going. The Corona Mark II was a fancier version of the 3rd gen Corona, but although the name (confusingly) stayed as was, Toyota made the 4th generation Corona on a new platform distinct from the Corona Mark II, which evolved into its own thing and dropped the “Corona” part soon after.
Our feature car has the Japanese-spec 1.7 litre engine, churning out 107hp – not too shabby, considering that the biggest “global” Coronas, i.e. compliant with the Californian anti-smog regulations, usually had a 2-litre that only mustered 97hp.
The window was pretty dirty, even after I tried to wipe a couple of square inches clean… Gives it a very ‘70s romantic atmosphere, doesn’t it? The interior seems to have survived the assault of time better than the bodywork.
Still, it wouldn’t take too much effort to turn this tired old ‘Rona into a contagiously admirable piece of mobile automotive history. Who knows, someone might see it one day and get bit by the bug (of classic car ownership and restoration, obviously).
I’m pretty sure it’s for sale. I found it on a used car garage forecourt, surrounded by a varied lot of quite younger cars, most notably a bunch of Smart 2-seaters and an old Crown, which I may write up someday. But I thought one should close 2020 on a Corona. Hope 2021 will make up for this crazy year we just had.