By on March 12, 2019

It may look like someone blended together the wagon versions of the Toyota Corolla and the Subaru Legacy, but today’s Rare Ride is something rarely (or never) seen on North American shores. Presenting the 1993 Toyota Caldina, with Sky Canopy.

The Toyota Caldina was born of a need to simplify product offerings. Prior to 1992, Toyota offered sedan and wagon variants of its Carina and Corona models, but after the turn of the decade, much of its Japanese market lineup was redesigned and shuffled. As the cheapest of the two models, the Carina was offered only as a sedan for 1992 onward. The Corona was available in four-door sedan and five-door liftback guises in all markets where it was offered, but there was a wagon option that varied depending on market. Strictly for the Japanese domestic market, the Corona wagon vanished, replaced by a Caldina wagon with its own distinct styling. Other markets still had a Corona wagon available, but it was actually a rebadged version of the JDM Caldina.

Japanese customers had access to two different styles of Caldina: a passenger version, and a more basic cargo wagon sold as a commercial vehicle. Aside from styling and trim differences, the commercial version had a leaf spring suspension in the back, while the passenger version featured independent struts.

Various engines were offered, ranging between 1.5 and 2.2 liters in displacement. Five gasoline engines were available in the first generation, as well as three diesels. Supporting the utility mission of either version, Caldinas were available with four-wheel drive. This offering continued throughout the second generation (which debuted for 1998), and again with the third generation, which was sold from 2002 through 2007. At that time the Caldina was discontinued and replaced by the more bland Corolla-based Avensis wagon.

Today’s Rare Ride is located in Atlanta, and is a well-equipped example from 1993. A two-tone color scheme and big rally-style fog lamps are paired with the undoubtedly expensive Sky Canopy roof option. Said option raises the roof of the Caldina and replaces a lot of metal with an ovoid piece of glass. Inside, passengers are treated to multiple sky views via five different sunroof panels. The owner mentions the four-wheel drive system comes with a locking center differential for when you want to tackle more than wet leaves. Yours for $7,900.

[Images: seller]

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27 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1993 Toyota Caldina Wagon, Featuring Four-wheel Drive and Five Sunroofs...”

  • avatar

    Looks like it even has a narrow window above the rear hatch. Man that roof is quirky. LOVE IT!

  • avatar

    Who’d look up from their phone or game nowadays?

    A truly bizarre and no doubt impeccably crafted J-idea.

  • avatar

    These are still thick on the ground across Siberia, I had a rural relative that made the switch from a Lada 2107 to a basic-trim one of these as his first “inomarka” (import). Likewise my cousin runs a ragged ’92 Corona that this Caldina shares is underpinnings with. No other car brand seems to take the abuse of bombed out pavement and gravel/dirt roads that define daily driving over there quite like Toyotas. Engines wear quicker per a given mileage than here as a result of brutal cold starts and subpar fuel and oil. Replacement parts including engines and transmissions are readily available, when the time came to replace the tired 4S (1.8L) motor in my cousin’s Corona, it was trivial for a local shop to plug in a slightly larger more powerful used 3S (2.0L), they go for about 30k rubles ($450). The interiors of these are classic Golden Age Toyota: soft velour, nice padded vinyl trim, good quality plastic. Light and somewhat lifeless steering, and suspension tuning that falls solidly on the “comfort” side of the spectrum.

  • avatar

    I think I went out with a girl named Caldina in college.

  • avatar

    Is right hand drive allowed in the US?

  • avatar

    Does the front sunroof section pop up? Each individual seat having their own mini-sunroof, complete with shade, is a brilliant idea.

  • avatar

    Us Europeans received this vehicle as the Toyota Carina E with a similar (if not the same) interior, and it was available as a wagon and fastback and sedan.

    • 0 avatar

      I just wanted to mention it. It was known as Carina E combi or wagon cannot recall and no canopy. Interior was exactly the same and was made from nice high quality materials compared to lower quality and less advanced Mazda 626 (more popular though) and Honda Accord (mostly ignored).

      And TUV rated Carina as the most reliable used car – the main reason why I bought it – could not afford to fix imported car often. I mean fixing Japanese cars was more expensive than German ones – one reason why no one wanted Japanese cars – I had a trouble to sell it later. The opposite was true in Far East. But Carina handled like Lincoln – suspension was too soft and body was flexing. Later I regretted buying Toyota and wish I bought Audi 80 or Scorpio instead. Well Scorpio was too big, Mondeo too expensive and Audio 80 trunk was too small. Unfortunately used Audi 80 and Scorpio were usually in bad shape. Scorpio tended to rust.

      • 0 avatar

        My experience with the Carina E was limited to ‘2.0 GTi’ model in which I rode in as a passenger. My memories are vague, but all I remember are relatively hard seats, a cheapish interior but impressive acceleration and passing power.

        To me the Carina E was always one of the more visually interesting Toyotas sold in my market. And you are correct; the Mazda 626 was very popular here, the Accord had the status of an exotic car since they were so rare.

      • 0 avatar

        ” I remember are relatively hard seats”

        LOL. Compared with VW Passat seats were not that hard! At least I did not perceive them as hard. I found Passat’s suspension to be too stiff for our roads and Audi 80 was such a nicer car that I excluded Passat from my list (its interior also was kind of depressing). Audi 80 was an extraordinary car. It had timeless design both exterior and interior which even today looks modern and suspension was so advanced and comfortable. I did not consider RWD cars because of winter conditions most of the year.

  • avatar

    What a complicated mess that roof system is

  • avatar

    The 1st gen Caldina had zero sporting pretensions, but it gradually became more performance oriented (to compete with the WRX I imagine) over time, especially with the 3rd gen…..well, as performance oriented as you could get with a 4 speed auto as the only transmission option.

  • avatar

    I believe there’s a Nissan Figaro in the background of the sunroof photo. Corey could do a month’s worth of rare rides just in this guy’s barns.

    • 0 avatar

      The Figaro can barely be considered rare when Duncan Imports exists.

      There’s probably more Figaros in Virginia than there is current generation Volvo wagons in all of US.

  • avatar

    why waste space on these old Toyotas? Who cares?

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