Curbside Classic: ’64-’67 Toyota Corona – Ready For Take Off!

“You know what I got me, Raúl? These cool aftermarket… Uh, rams, or rockets. Don’t really know what they’re… but remember my Corona? Man, that’s gonna be one sweet ride now! You just wait and see!”

Some time ago I found the claim—on Japanese sites—that Toyota’s 3rd gen. Corona was penned with “American style” in mind. Not a claim I denied, but always found necessary to squint hard to see. Earlier Japanese efforts had European influences; either Brit in spirit, or downright Italian outsourcing.

With the Corona, Toyota’s designers took to Detroit (and who knows what else) for inspiration. Fix your gaze and do some hard squinting: What do you see? Ford influences seem most prominent to me: Engel’s boxy slabsideness, along Ford’s ever-present ‘shovel nose’ of the period.

The Corona’s dimensions had always made difficult to notice such American affectations. This sample however, with ‘rocket spears’ in place, has certainly proven the case to me! Yes, little Asian tin box, I can see those American lines tailored to you!

Never mind those spears belong to the wrong decade; if the Corona’s lines ape the Continental’s clean flanks, those Jet-Age add-ons are as incongruous as can be. Then again, those who follow posts of mine are well aware of the eclectic taste of Central America’s car owners. Label us accidental-post-modernists.

Talking about old posts, by now it must be clear Central America seems to be central station for old Japanese iron. Nissan and Toyota arrived to the region in the early ’60s, possessing accessible prices, good quality, and attainable amenities. Locals could finally afford mobility, with ‘luxury’ options to boot. In rather quick fashion the Asian newcomers took the market away from American and European brands.

After a couple of failed efforts, the 3rd gen. Corona was the game changer Toyota needed to establish the brand. The model sold in hearty numbers, displacing Nissan from the top perch in Japan and Western markets. The story has been told at CC before, and it’s worth revisiting.

Not surprisingly, Coronas of this age were rather common in my youth and have become scarce only until recent. A few are still to be found in rather original, if not pristine, condition. No idea of this sample’s exact age, but I’m guessing it belongs to the model’s early years.

As always, some creative resourcefulness has been applied to keep this Corona on the road. Besides the ‘rocket spears’; that’s a ‘Hetz’ (a Chinese brand I think) lock in the trunk, a fix that belongs to the ‘put-together’ department.

No idea where the ‘rocket spears’ are sourced from: Plymouth, Chevy, Ford? Talking about looks, it won’t come as a surprise to confess I always found these cars dowdy. My kind of dowdy, mind you. It would have been the perfect anti-hipster mobile, and would have loved to own and drive one back in my twenties. Then again, nowadays even old Falcons are hipster-mobiles (or so I’m told). Walter Mitty, no more daydreaming for you. We’re ready to finally accept you as cool.

The Corona’s 3rd gen. set Toyota on the path to world dominance. The model may be no more, but it took off and sent the company to lofty heights. And that with no need for rocket boosters.

More on the Corona:

Curbside Classic: 1969 Toyota Corona – It All Started Here