By on February 15, 2011


American car ads of the early 1980s came up short in several departments: Burning rubber, jet-engine-grade turbocharger sound, and blatantly sped-up film that made the cars appear to be going 300 MPH. Oh, and they also lacked James Bond!


Since my very first set of wheels was a 50-buck ’69 Corona sedan, I have a soft spot for the not-so-sporty rear-drive Toyota sedans. Not-so-sporty in North America, that is; 1982 car shoppers could still buy a new Corona— in theory, though almost never in practice— but the versions we got were hopelessly stodgy, more suited for the regional sales manager of a faltering plumbing-supply company than, say, a Yakuza enforcer in a $10,000 Italian suit. Not so in Japan, where you could buy a mean-looking Corona GT coupe with “TWIN CAM TURBO” in bright orange letters on the steering wheel and ten billion whistling horsepower under the hood. Well, maybe not quite ten billion horsepower; with the 3T-GTE, Roger Moore was getting 160 PS (about 157 HP) when he leadfooted it out of the TWIN CAM TURBO 18-wheeler in search of baddies. That’s still plenty of power for the time, especially in a 2,500-pound car.

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