By on December 31, 2012

Since my first car was a Corona and I’ve had quite a bumper crop of Corona Junkyard Finds this year (including this ’79 LE sedan, this ’70 sedan, and this ’70 coupe, the last of the 2012 Junkyard Find Series might as well be this ’68 sedan.
This example of Toyota’s first big seller in the United States (Crowns were always very rare and Corollas didn’t get to be big US sellers until the 1970s), which I found at the site of our Auction-To-Crusher study, came with the transmission whose name I love most of all: Toyoglide!
The Toyoglide was a license-built version of GM’s venerable two-speed Powerglide. Yes, even as Land Cruisers got a Toyota-ized Chevy six engine, Coronas got GM transmissions.
The 3R pushrod engine was noisy and not so powerful, but it did sport the reliability the R family is known for (unless entered in a 24 Hours of LeMons race).
My ’69 Corona wasn’t particularly reliable except for the engine, and overall it was just about as terrible as the Pintos and Colts driven by my high-school peers. It took the Corolla and Celica and some cockroach-like pickups, a few years later, to get Toyota its American reputation for build quality.
Still, the boxy little Corona was the first real toehold in the American market for Toyota.

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34 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1968 Toyota Corona Sedan...”

  • avatar

    One selling point back then would have been parking. I’m sure other geezers can remember Compact Only reserved parking spaces. Though they usually housed VWs, Triumphs, and MGs.

  • avatar

    I remember these when they were first offered on sale in Europe.

    Very people bought them. And the ones that did didn’t keep them for very long as they had serious rust issues and many people also considered them quite small and uncomfortable compared to the roomier/comfortable European cars available at the time.

  • avatar

    I’m glad you brought up the reliability issue. I thought I was the only one that remembered. My nephew had a corolla and he needed two. One to drive while the other was in the shop. Otoh my BIL had a truck that seemed to last forever. Guess if was the luck of the draw.

    I was uppopular for remembering that when Hyundai was making it’s bold entrance. I kept comparing them to early toyota junk and there are those who think Toyota was always the gold standard.

  • avatar

    I am old enough to remember when “Made in Japan” meant exactly the same thing that “Made in China” means now. All the cheap plastic toys that came out in the late ’50’s were from Japan. The more costly metal toys came from the US, England, or Germany. Regarding cars, the first efforts from Honda were comical tiny things powered by motorcycle engines (S600). The first Civic was light years ahead of those, but still had a laundry list of problems. The first time I drove a Toyota Corona was in 1976. I remember being highly unimpressed with its driving characteristics. I helped my friends replace their Toyota timing chains and head gaskets while listening to their stories about how reliable they were.

  • avatar

    My wife’s first car was a red ’68 Corona Hardtop Coupe — 2-speed auto trans, and “The Rock” 2RC engine. I remember the heavy, un-boosted steering; handling and braking were greatly improved by switching the terrible OEM tires for radials. We had the car for 5 years. Pluses were cute looks, reasonable size and mpg for the time, folding rear seat backrest, relatively reliable (if one overlooks the need for a head gasket after 4 years…) Downers included the aforementioned steering, builtin recirculate-only A/C which had trouble coping with Houston weather and took up the space where the glove box was supposed to be. Its replacement was a ’73 Corolla 2DR that had a 3-speed auto and more powerful A/C that actually connected to the outside atmosphere. That one lasted 10 years until it was traded up for a Volvo 244.

  • avatar

    In the Midwest, these have disappeared in a cloud of (red) dust. The Japanese had very poor corrosion resistance during those years.

  • avatar

    Aluminum dashboard & grill, single master cylinder,bench front seat; I’d say that’s a 1967.

  • avatar

    A 2-speed automatic coupled to a 4 cylinder, now thats genuinely scarey!

    • 0 avatar

      I was wondering about that one myself. Nowadays anything with less than six gears is old hat.

      It would be insightful to hear from somebody who actually drove one what it was like. I have this vision of pulling away in 2nd and then shifting to 4th. Or was it more like 1st and 3rd?

      BTW, precious little seem to have been pulled from this car.

    • 0 avatar

      Ever heard of the Chevy II? The standard engine was a 90hp (SAE gross) four and a special stripped-down Powerglide was optional.

      Compared to a modern car, acceleration was glacial. The Corona advertised “Zero to sixty in sixteen seconds!”. That was for the manual transmission. To put it in 20th century perspective, the optional 105hp 1950 Chevy Powerglide did it in nearly 30 seconds, according to contemporary road tests.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t begin to tell you how many ’71 to mid ’73 Vega’s were configured this way. They were about as bad as you could imagine but they sold in droves.

  • avatar

    No rust protection whatsoever and scary on the highway, but I really like the sort of big-car formal styling shrunken down to compact size. If you squint, the Corona almost looks like a miniaturized Silver Shadow from the side.

  • avatar

    I only remember Coronas that are somewhat newer. The snow brings a harsh reality to this car’s plight.

    This car would certainly be an interesting find at a local car cruise – something different than the dozens of Chevelles and Mustangs that normally show up.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Knew several ladies that owned these during the seventies . Always liked the swept back styling look of the doors in the sedan – actually liked the looks better than that of the Corona coupe . They were very tinny feeling though – the early seventies replacement Corona was much more substantial . Worked with a girl who had I think a 1970 Corolla coupe with the Toyoglide that I drove once – no acceleration with the automatic and shortly after the tranmission failed – not surprising as it would have been 8 years old at the time .

  • avatar

    A girl in an apartment complex next door owns one of these. It’s in pretty good shape, except for the paint, and it’s virtually silent when it goes by. It must have been in San Diego all its life, because there’s virtually no rust, except for a small dent in the front edge of the hood. It’s now parked outside, two blocks from the ocean, and she put a rack on the roof for surfboards, so there’s a lot of rust in its future.

    She’s a fit, blonde surfer in her early 20’s so there’s no shortage of guys willing to help her with any mechanical problems that crop up. That’s the opposite of what happened to me years ago, when I was in my 20’s and fit and had a ’63 Dart surfer wagon. When I had trouble, old guys would come up and tell me about the old, reliable slant six they used to own and watch, not help, while I worked on it. Funny how that works.

  • avatar

    I remember renting a couple of those cars while our VW was in the body shop. For all their faults these cars established a decent toehold for Toyota in the US. I remember telling my wife we’d know Toyota had really arrived here when we saw junked ones baking in the sun in Nevada or Wyoming.

  • avatar

    I fondly remember keeping one of these running for my friend who was married and broke when he bought it , a 4 year old car . when running , it carried 5 adults and got terrific fuel economy .

    These cars blew trannies like crazy ~ all you had to do was put it into revers while the car was still rolling forward and *SNAP* went the reverse band.


  • avatar

    I had a ’70 Corona Mark II back in 82-84ish, 2 door hardtop, 8R-C OHC engine and 3spd Toyoglide. Fun car, great styling, and fairly reliable. And because the front seats did recline all the way, I did get to Try it in a Toyota :)

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Yah, I remember them, barely. They are long gone from these parts. I was running bugs in those decades.My daughter’s ’06 Corolla with 150K miles with very little done to it; made me a believer in Toyota’s quality appliances. I wish they made dish washers.

  • avatar

    I don’t even remember seeing these growing up in the later 70’s in Upstate, NY. I could always identify most any car by it’s taillights and grille, even at night from a distance. These were virtually non existent.

  • avatar

    We used to own ones of these little reliable Jap cars (although with a 3 speed manual) back in the late seventies.

    Comfortable, reliable as hell, economic but handling was not its cup of tea….

  • avatar

    i have a ’66 that i just mother bought it new in SF in 1967. i still drive it . people either ask what it is, laugh , or tell me stories about ones they knew

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