Junkyard Find: 1970 Toyota Corona Coupe

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The Corona was the first Toyota car to appear in large numbers on American streets, starting in the mid-to-late 1960s. By the middle of the 1980s, just about all the boxy early Coronas were gone; they rusted quickly in non-bone-dry regions and weren’t enough loved elsewhere to be kept alive. My very first car was a ’69 Corona sedan, so I had a bit of a nostalgic twinge when I spotted this ’70 hardtop coupe in a California self-serve wrecking yard.

I started driving my Corona in 1982, at which time it was regarded by my peers as possibly the uncoolest motor vehicle on the planet. It wasn’t exactly a serious driver’s car, what with the 67-horsepower 3R engine, tippy suspension, and fade-prone four-wheel-drum brakes, but at least mine had a four-on-the-floor manual.

This sporty coupe came with the floor-shifted Toyoglide two-speed automatic, a Powerglide license-built by Toyota. Performance must have been sluggish, even by 1970 standards.

The fold-down rear seat was a nice cargo-hauling touch.

Because the paint is very faded and there was a 1982 bus map in the glovebox, I’m assuming that this car sat in a yard or driveway for decades before taking its final trip to The Crusher.

With a five-digit odometer, there’s no telling how many miles this car really racked up during its driving career. 113,242? 413,242? I’m betting on the former.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Bill mcgee Bill mcgee on Feb 15, 2012

    The first Toyota I ever rode in or drove was one of these. I was hitchiking to who knows where in the early seventies somewhere on I-10, Del Rio I think and a woman picked me up in a Corona hardtop just like this but with a stick. She was going to El Paso and we traded off driving. I remember thinking how closely coupled the roofline was- kind of nice actually. Within a year or two Toyotas were everywhere. Later on I worked with a woman who bought an older Toyota- I think a Corolla- with the Toyoglide. It went out almost immediately . At the time I remember it was considered a crappy knockoff of the Powerglide trans.

  • -Nate -Nate on Dec 13, 2012

    I remember the '67's horn ring was also the turn signal switch ~ many customers came into the shop wondering why it had 'NO DANG TURN SIGNALS ' ! . The Toyoglide tranny was O.K. but lost GM's legendary Powerglide toughness in the shrinking ~ if this car was rolling forward when you slipped it into reverse , *SNAP* went the reverse band..... Luckily they were light and easy to push backwards =8-) . There are two or three of these in VGC tooling 'round Pasadena still ~ I see nice , clean Coupes in the various Pick-A-Part yards two or three times a year , would like to save one but am trying to get rid of old cars , not marry any more orphans . -Nate

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.