By on June 20, 2019

Today’s Rare Ride is a case of forbidden fruit. Though North American consumers could buy something similar, this Rare Ride was never on domestic shores as new.

It’s the Toyota Corona 2000 GT, from 1974.

Toyota’s Corona line entered production in 1957. A compilation of parts from a recently deceased Crown, it was made to fill the space the (now larger) Crown vacated. Over the years the Corona grew in size and model variation, and became an important global model for Toyota. Additional production began in Australia in the sixties, and by the early seventies it was also produced in Indonesia and South Africa.

After a short fourth generation of just four model years, the fifth-gen Corona entered production late in 1973. By that time it was a midsize entry, and occupied a place between the smaller Carina and the larger, more luxury-oriented Mark II. Body styles included two- and four-door sedans, a five-door wagon, and the rakish two-door hardtop coupe.

As expected, North American Coronas had big, chunky bumpers to meet new crash standards. Though a variety of engines were used in other markets, North American Coronas had just one: the 20R. Toyota liked the 2.2-liter unit for North American applications. Its 97 horsepower also motivated the Hilux and Celica of the period. Transmissions included three- and four-speed manuals, and a three-speed automatic.

For its domestic market only, Toyota built two hotter versions of the Corona. Dubbed the 2000 GT, a sporty sedan was accompanied by a hardtop coupe to form the top of the Corona line. These models used the twin cam 18R-G engine. A two-liter unit designed to fit into the small car tax bracket in Japan, the 18R-G produced 143 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque in a car that weighed around 2,200 pounds. North Americans stayed content with their 97-horsepower truck engine.

The Corona faced an uphill battle in the US. Front-drive economy was all the rage, and entries like the new Honda Accord and Subaru DL gained market share. The fifth generation finished off the seventies before it was replaced by a short-lived sixth generation that persevered through 1983. It was not missed, as Americans embraced the brand new front-drive Camry with open arms. By 1983 there was a front-drive Corona in other markets, as the model began its descent. Through the remainder of its life (model year 2002) the Corona turned into a Corolla-like vehicle for markets outside North America, and eventually spawned Caldina wagon variants.

Today’s burgundy beauty is a 1974 2000 GT coupe. All 143 horsepower are shifted via the five-speed manual, and everything looks in original condition. 2000 GT is yours for $25,995.

Images: seller]

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30 Comments on “Rare Rides: A 1974 Toyota Corona 2000 GT...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    This is going to sound weird, but Toyotas had a very distinct odor to them, it’s the same smell you used to get when opening a package containing any Japanese electronics, radios, TVs, etc. Seeing the pictures of this interior suddenly brought that odor to mind

    North America may not have gotten this EXACT Corona, but we sure got something very similar, because I learned how to drive a stick on a Corona that looked a lot like this

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I find this is true with all cars. I’ve owned multiple 80’s-90’s Fords and they largely smell the same.

      Sometimes with our ‘17 Sienna, there’s a certain smell that’s exactly like one my Dads 79 Hi Lux used to have. Some kind of grease or fluid that’s the same, though I have no idea how that’s possible.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      Lie2me wrote: “This is going to sound weird, but Toyotas had a very distinct odor to them,”

      OMG, you nailed it! I was thinking just that as I read the piece. I actually owned a 1976 Corona two-door once. I have fond memories of its shifter feel (pushrods, not cables – very direct and snickety-snick), almost elegant simplicity, the lack of a 5th gear and of course THE ODOR. It was very specific to Toyota’s of the era. Not bad at all – just grease/cosmoline or similar that was instantly recognizable as Toyota across the lineup.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I’m glad it wasn’t just me. No, it wasn’t a bad odor at all just a very distinct odor that only Toyotas and little Japanese electronics had. I have some old Realistic speakers that were made in Japan and every once in awhile if I’m standing close to one I’ll get just a slight whiff of it

  • avatar
    ajla

    I wish good under hood aesthetics would return. I get why it might not be worth doing on something like an Equinox but even enthusiast cars are just various hunks of plastic these days.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I was going to ask if there was a gray market of the parts for these things making it across the pond, but by virtue of this car’s location I think I know the answer!

    2400lbs, 140hp, I bet this thing can move really well! I hope the buyer has someone who knows Mikunis.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Yes, should scoot nicely. I wonder how many of those 140 horses would have been devoured by smog gear had they tried to import that motor. Beautiful little engine bay.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    A really nice-looking car in spectacular condition, which would be fun to drive. But it’s priced in the “hmm” category for me; to the discriminating buyer it would be perfect.

    Although I like alpha car names, I’m annoyed when companies dwell on the same starting letter for their lineup. Toyota is stuck on “C”, Ford on “F”, Tesla on “Model”, and Audi on “A”, for example.

  • avatar
    marc

    We had the American (slow) version of this, our family’s first Toyota. I still own Toyotas and Lexuses 46 years later. They must have done something right. If I had an extra 25K lying around, I would snap this up in a minute. Nostalgia + a poor man’s 2000GT? Hell yes.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Love it, but unless you have a JDM fetish, that asking price is silly.

  • avatar
    Pianoboy57

    I had a ‘74 SR for a short while in 1978. It met its demise against a ’73 Malibu. I found it on a unicorn hunt for the perfect Celica so I grabbed it. Mine was dark blue, white vinyl top and grey upholstery. I paid $1650 with 97k well maintained miles. It was a five speed and the only thing it didn’t have was power steering. The back seat even folded down. I had absolutely no complaints about that car. My Corona ranks second of all my previous rides right behind my late 2010 Sportwagen TDI.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Very nice. A blast from the past – I remember when Toyota used to have the printed information on the driver’s door panel, like in image 11 (in Japanese on this one). Printed in white (sometimes black) on clear vinyl, heat welded to the door panel.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    i like the fact the brake booster hose has a gently wavy design, due to expected engine movement. cant help but think that american companies wouldnt go to that trouble.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      True. An American car would use bulk hose, pre-cut to length by the supplier. The drawback with this part is that now it’s a molded hose; a dealer-only part.

      I imagine that when they needed replacing, most got replaced with bulk hose.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    This looks like much fun ! .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The specs are very similar to the famed B13 Sentra SE-R. Too bad the designers were channeling their inner kaiju.

  • avatar
    Edsel Maserati

    I’m fighting off the nightmares. I had a ’72 Corona Mark II, which had a 4-banger. I still remember the name of that engine: 18R-C. (There was a slightly larger model with a six.) It was a terrible design and caused me endless grief. It was my understanding that around this time Toyota was determined to make the most reliable engines possible. Well, the 18R-C was not of that new breed.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      The 18R-C (“C” for California emissions) is more closely related to the 20R and 22R Celica and Hilux engines, with SOHC and two valves per cylinder. They’re designed for torque and low revs, not horsepower and high revs. I’ve heard of a few of blown up in LeMons racing, because they’re not rev-happy at all.

      I imagine the changes made to comply with California emissions back in the carburetor days didn’t help them at all.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    At first glance, not that interesting. At second and subsequent glances, wow, this is a cool car. Maybe advanced for the time, but not excessively complicated. Well-designed interior. So clean under the hood. Very nice!

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I see a couple of things. The air cleaners don’t look stock – knowing how anal retentive the Japanese manufacturers were about things like that, I’d expect to see a huge oval housing covering both carbs, with a snorkel coming off the front that’s tilted down, the big stamped wing nuts at each carb that go pop-pop-pop once they make contact (ridges on the bottoms of the nuts that mate with grooves stamped in the housing – anti-vibration), and something like six of those flip-down clamps they like to use around the perimeter.

    I also see that the rubber body plugs are missing from the spare tire well.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    This a good Rare Ride. I think though for the money a Celica coupe would provide the same enjoyment and looks like a close cousin. Theres a fairly clean orange coupe parked in my in-laws neighborhood that i’m sure is a nonrunner but a good candidate for restoration. I wish I had the time or space.


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