The Carina was a somewhat curious addition to Toyota’s lineup in 1972, as it squeezed in the rather modest-sized gap between the smaller Corolla and larger Corona. Presumably not a lot of folks in the US thought that gap needed filling, and the Carina was a relatively modest seller, and only offered here for three model years (1972-1974).
The Carina made good use of various existing Toyota components, like the whole platform and chassis of the Celica, and the 1.6 L hemi-head pushrod four from the Corolla 1.6. The good news is that it was the best handling Toyota at the time, thanks to the Celica’s underpinnings but with the lighter, smaller engine in front.
The 1.6 was a pretty gutsy little mill; note how the Carina’s 0-60 time edged out the Datsun 510. And walloped the Vega. The Pinto with the optional 2.0 L four and stick not surprisingly was quicker.
The interior was generic Toyota of the times: decent, but nothing spectacular. But the accommodations were pretty good, certainly the back seat was a huge improvement over the Pinto’s little cave.
Curbside Classic: 1973 Toyota Carina – My CC Holy Grail by D. Skinner
Was this just a stopgap measure since 72 was the last year of the 4 cylinder Corona Mark II?
No, because this slotted in between the Corolla and the Corona. The Mk II was above the Corona.
I assume they figured why not? And realized that sales were too weak to support it going forward. And the Corolla was getting bigger anyway.
The Carina was never offered in Canada and I can only remember ever seeing one in Oregon as a kid.
It’s interesting to see the stopping distances of the cars. Yikes!
Well it is from 80mph, the fade is the scary thing to me, quoted as 50% for the Carina.
I’ve passed my driving test in 82 so never had as problem with “those brakes” .My first car had no servo brakes. It’s all relative. Today’s brakes with abs are to over boosted and younger drivers tailgate. We learnt to keep our distance from the car in front…
Modern traffic won’t give you the opportunity to keep your distance and it’s dishonest to pretend that’s an option.
Driving conditions have changed a lot since 1982.
I like having good brakes on my Golf. In fact, less than excellent brakes is a deal breaker on any new car purchase.
Sorry R&T, but that’s a oversquare engine. And you could get that engine in the Celica in other places but the U.S.of A.
Oversquare is correct, remember reading that in the early 80s! My first car was a 2T Celica here in Aust, 5 speed only manual here.
I remember those. They were rare but there was a red one in my neighborhood back in the day. The Carina was one of those cars that just disappeared, I was never sure what was the last year they were imported.
Toyota understood something that Detroit had forgotten under the influence of GM’s Sloanarchy. You don’t need a lot of separate brands if you have one GOOD brand. When you have one GOOD brand you can introduce sub-brands easily and then remove them without incurring an Edsel-like hit to your reputation. … But then Toyota broke the rule with Lexus, which tried to hide its Toyotaness in the same way that Saturn had tried to hide its GMness.
Well, I’d say they hit gold with Lexus. Now Scion on the other hand, not so much.
There was a four-door sedan in other markets but only the two-door was offered here, likely because the Corona already came as a 4-door sedan or 2-door hardtop, so the Carina being a bigger-than-a-Corolla 2 door post sedan was probably sent in to fill a model gap that kind of existed – Datsun sold quite a few 510 2-door sedans – but was elusive for Toyota.
I actually saw one of these a few months back sitting in someone’s driveway.
They seem an odd addition to the lineup as a wired middle ground to us in the US somewhat, but there wasn’t a two door sedan Corona until 1974. Once that arrived, the Carina was dropped real quick. Also, not all Japanese Carinas were dowdy grocery getters; they were essentially created to fit the dealer model Japan was following at the time. Same engine as a Celica GT of the same year of 1973:
I remember a few of these around my town back then, specifically from the taillamp treatment, which I find attractive and remember better than the Corona and Corolla of that era.
I purchased one of these used for my Mother. It was typical Toyota – economical, well put together, as dependable as expected. As it was larger than a Corolla, it seemed to me to be a perfect size for her to manage in city driving. After several months, she decided that it was just too small for her, and I replaced it with a Colonnade Cutlass. I sold it for more than I paid for it, and someone else got an excellent car.
Small furrin’ cars were not Mom’s thing apparently…
I like the waterfall taillights. They make the Corolla look dowdy in comparison. I didn’t see many of these around even back in the 1970s.
Much in the same way the Carina was the size filler between the Corolla and the Corona, the Toyota Avensis and the related Toyota Sai/Lexus HS250h (both maybe the “spiritual successors to the Carina much like the Corona were to the Camry) served as the size filler also between the Corolla and the Camry.
I wish Toyota sold that very attractive Carina hardtop in Australia. I’d settle for one even without the 2TG or 18RG. Although the 2T powered Celica on the same platform sold very well here, the Carina hardtop would have been roomier in the front and in the back for occasional extra passengers. .
I don’t know how much more interior room a RT10X series Corona Sedan would have had over the Croma equivalent but if they were close, the Carina would have been at least on paper a superior handler.
They were very close in size and I can understand why in many markets they were not both offered simultaneously.
For the most part the Carina in all its generations was free of any nastly embellishments that say many Datsuns exhibited which is why it was offered in many European markets.
I wonder if New Zealand got the Carina? Perhaps our Kiwi curbivores can confirm?