Junkyard Find: 1970 Toyota Corona Sedan
I visited my old stomping grounds in California over the weekend, which means I hit a bunch of self-service junkyards in the East Bay. I was thinking about some of the cars I used to drive during the 80s as I walked the rows of this yard’s import section, when there it was: my very first car!
No, really— I was convinced I’d stumbled on the actual beige Toyota Corona with 1900 engine and 4-speed that I bought for $50 at age 15. I sold it to a classmate at 17 (he ended up going to jail for homicide a year later, but I’m pretty sure the Corona wasn’t involved in the crime) and have spent the last 29 years wondering what happened to it.
Upon closer examination, it became clear that this wasn’t my old car; the first clue was when I didn’t spot the punk door-panel murals (honoring Fang, if I recall correctly) done in sparkly nail polish applied by back-seat passengers in 1982. A look at the data plate confirmed it: Mine was a ’69 and this car is a ’70. Hey, maybe my ’69 is still out there somewhere!
So this is the second 1970 Corona I’ve seen in Northern California junkyards in recent months, after this coupe. The Corona doesn’t have much collectible value to anybody outside of Japan, so the only way an American Corona can last this long is when it never dies. Since they’re hammer-simple and have Hilux-grade R engines, this does happen… but eventually some repair will cost more than the car is worth: next stop, The Crusher!
The early Corona was the Camry of its day— homely, not very exciting to drive, and extremely reliable. I hope there are a few low-mile original ones still hidden away.
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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