By on December 9, 2019

1974 Toyota Corona wagon in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSince my first car was a very beige 1969 Toyota Corona sedan and I now own a heavily customized lowrider 1969 Toyota Corona coupe, I’m always on the lookout for Coronas in junkyards. Just prior to a California trip I took a week ago, I received a Row52 notification about a 1974 Corona at an East Bay self-service yard.

Here’s what I found.

1974 Toyota Corona wagon in California junkyard, interior- ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsObviously, some Bay Area fifth-generation Corona owner had been waiting for just such a parts bonanza to show up in a local U-Wrench yard, and this person yanked much of the good stuff from this RT118 wagon before I got there. I’ve done the same thing to a junkyard ’41 Plymouth, so I know the glory of such a discovery.

1974 Toyota Corona wagon in California junkyard, engine compartment - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe engine and transmission no longer reside in this car, but it started life with an 18R-C 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 97 horsepower and a four- or five-speed manual gearbox. The 18R evolved into the legendary 20R and 22R of Toyota War fame.

1974 Toyota Corona wagon in California junkyard, RH rear view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe list price on this car was $3,129, or about $17,250 in 2019 dollars. The 1974 Ford Pinto wagon cost $2,771, but had just 86 horsepower and a more primitive interior than the semi-luxurious Corona wagon.

1974 Toyota Corona wagon in California junkyard, vent - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsCorona sales in the United States started in the 1965 model year and continued through 1982, after which the all-new front-wheel-drive Camry shoved the rear-wheel-drive Corona aside in North America. I’ve photographed every Corona I have seen in wrecking yards over the past 12 years, including this ’66 sedan, this ’68 sedan, this ’70 sedan, this ’70 coupe, this ’79 sedan, this ’80 sedan, this ’81 wagon, this ’81 wagon, and this ’82 sedan. Since I hadn’t found a Corona from the middle 1970s until now, this is an especially satisfying Junkyard Find.

1974 Toyota Corona wagon in California junkyard, stickers - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOne of the final owners of this car plastered much of the interior with stickers (and, maybe, applied the rattle-can blue paint job over the car’s original yellow paint).

1974 Toyota Corona wagon in California junkyard, Exploited sticker - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWe can assume this car was not babied during its final years.

1974 Toyota Corona wagon in California junkyard, speedometer - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWith a five-digit odometer, we can’t know how many miles this car ended up turning during its 45 years of life. The 18R engine and Coronas in general tended to hold together better than just about any car of the era (other than a diesel Mercedes-Benz), so this could be a 469,325-mile car.

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25 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1974 Toyota Corona Station Wagon...”


  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Out family bought a new 1974 Corona 2 door sedan base model with automatic.

    Owning a Toyota saved our meager family from the repair-cost financial-ravages from the junk, utter crap, and scams of the Big-3. (Much to the consternation of some relatives in the UAW at that time.)

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    If that is indeed a rattle can paint job, it is really well done and thorough. It’s still shiny on the sides and they disassembled the whole front end to paint he radiator support and the wheel wells.
    The exterior is in really good shape for as used up as the interior looks.
    Did they try to Bondo the cracks in the dash or what’s going on there?

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “Large streams from little fountains flow, Tall oaks from little acorns grow.”

    – Raised off the ground like that, this vehicle looks suspiciously crossoverish.

    – ‘With a little “decontenting,” [air quotes] this brand could have been great.’ – J. Hackett

    – I have forwarded the picture of the D pillar vents to the Art Center College of Design [oops, sorry “ArtCenter…” – hair flip] for their perusal. With everything going on with D pillars these days, some of it might as well be functional…

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Those D pillar vents were part of the all important-Flow through ventilation.
      You would see the car ads back then and it would be an important selling point, the new fangled technology that made your car aerated and comfortable.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Sun baked and rock solid. Junkyards look so different out there.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    What happened to the front floor and firewall? Did someone cut that out with a recip saw? It looks too clean to be from rust.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      One guess is that somebody pulled the engine but didn’t want the trans so they made the cut to easily get the trans to bellhousing connection apart?
      Those battery saws cut sheet metal pretty well with a good blade.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    In the early or mid 2000s, I recall reading an article in one of the car magazines about the most-ticketed cars. The car that received the most speeding tickets? The Toyota Camry Solara. I really don’t know why. New, red, expensive cars with sporting pretentions tend to provoke the most conversations with revenuers when driven at the same speed as surrounding traffic in my experience. I’d have thought that a silver Solara would have been a worthy choice for averaging 77 mph from door to door, considering the ease with which it should have blended into traffic. Were Solara drivers actually the fastest on the road?

    Buy Accord
    Drive Solara – if only to find out how they provoked so many speeding tickets.
    Burn Eclipse.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In the early mid 70’s I paid little to no attention to Japanese sedans or wagons.

    In retrospect, that might have been a mistake. There are enough examples to prove that in many ways they were superior to the broughammobiles that I was buying/driving at the time. At least in regards to mechanical durability/reliabilty/longevity. However with all the salt used here in the GTA they probably all rusted away before the mechanicals quit. And since in those days I rarely kept one vehicle for longer than a year, the longevity really didn’t matter.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      My grandparents lived in Williamstown Massachusetts, having moved there from GTA in the ’60s. They tended to get about five or six years out of Mopar cars before they rusted through, a bit less for GM cars. In 1984 they’d had enough of Chrysler reliability and dealer service and bought a Toyota, which they had rust-proofed by Rusty Jones. I think there was a warranty involved and annual retreatments. Their first Toyota was T-boned when it was five years old, and I don’t know what prompted them to trade the second one at a similar age. Possibly it was a desire for a bigger and fancier Toyota. The last one was still in good shape when my aunt inherited it when it was about ten years old. Then my aunt sold it because she’s married to an architect, with all the impractical baggage that entails.

      What has been your experience with rust-protection companies? I often hear about rust-through issues with various cars, and I’ve had a Fiat rust into pieces in Virginia. Where I grew up, we had road salt for the first two snows every year. We didn’t have enough snow for rust-proofing franchises like I saw up north.

      ’70s Japanese cars definitely had rust issues in Virginia, but by the mid-’80s the good ones were at least as rust-resistant was Detroit cars. Subarus were the worst, and Mazdas were still vulnerable.

      For man years, rust seemed to be an issue of the past. Galvanization has been used less and less for over twenty years and safer paints mean less protection. Now I’m seeing rust on cars from the past twenty years unlike the cars from the previous two decades. It makes me wonder if rust treatment companies are still doing business.

      • 0 avatar
        EGSE

        The US-mandated low VOC paint was a detriment for good adhesion. I saw a big difference in paint longevity between USDM and JDM cars; the Japanese-built cars didn’t suffer the way the US-built cars did.

        Tractors also had that problem….my US-made New Holland front-end loader (mounted on an ag tractor) had paint coming off after a few years. No help from CNH or the dealer. I got a rattle-can of NH Blue to fix it and so far so good. The tractor was made in Japan and after 10 years the paint looks like the day I bought it.

        Good question about aftermarket rust-proofing. I looked a few months ago and couldn’t find *anyone* within a 40 mile radius. In the 1970’s there was a Ziebart franchise on every other block.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Krown. The only rustproofing that I recommend and I swear by it. It is oily and ‘creeps’ into the crevices. They do have to drill some holes to apply it and yes it drips. But it is well worth it.

        Franchises abound in Ontario.

        Mazda still seems to have more rust issues than other manufacturers.
        If I remember correctly Ford lost a lawsuit regarding the ‘rusty Ford’ issue of the early/mid 1970’s. I believe Phil Edmonston ‘made his bones’ leading this and the Automobile Protection Association (APA) was formed during this period.

        Regarding paint adhesion our ’05 Buick and ’06 Pontiac Montana SV6 had two of the best and most resilient factory paint jobs I have ever experienced. No complaints regarding either of them.

        • 0 avatar
          IHateCars

          Arthur….I find that Krown is really only necessary to apply every second year. It creeps so much that it typically lasts well into the following Winter and they usually have promotions where they will give you a free can of the stuff with your application so you can do touch ups to get you through to the next year. And this is coming from a user in road salt-happy Ottawa!

          BTW, Murilee, I really dig your low rider Corona! And The Exploited is a great band!

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        @ Todd Atlas

        Honda and Toyota were the penny pinchers who held out till the mid ’90s to use galvanized sheet steel. Pre ’96 Accords, Civics and Camrys and Corollas simply do not exist around these parts, let alone a ’70s Corona. So far as I know, nobody has “discontinued” galvanized sheet metal.

        If you lived where real rust exists, where Honda kept an outpost to monitor rust up until 1996 when they finally discovered galvanized, you’d know the last twenty years’ worth of vehicles do not rust the way they did. And if you think mid ’70s to mid ’90s cars were less prone to rust than those of today since 1996, you’re delusional.

        And the “new” commenting system sucks. But you like to be the all-knowing contrarian on most matters, so I’d say your praise is the best reason to say it’s crap.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          You’re pretty clever. I can tell because you thought I was praising the commenting system under a comment that obviously wound up paired with the wrong article.

          Where I live, first generation Accords and first and second generation Civics were the only Hondas that rusted more than average. Preludes maybe too, but I can’t recall seeing any with rust perforation and they were common on the roads long after most of the cars produced when they were had been scrapped.

          BMWs were just about fully-galvanized from 1977-1991. At that point they started selectively-galvanizing areas of their car-bodies in the name of recyclability.

          In the past four years I’ve seen more cars with structural rust issues that I saw on cars from the ’80s and ’90s when they were still in daily use. Part of it could be that Charlottesville dealers figured out they can buy cars at NE auctions and sell them to an ever-more-clueless Charlottesville populace.

        • 0 avatar

          “Honda and Toyota were the penny pinchers who held out till the mid ’90s to use galvanized sheet steel.”

          I don’t know, I owned European 1989 Toyota Carina II and it’s body was galvanized – no rust at all. And I am talking about winter 8 month a year and all summer raining.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    In the mid-80’s I had a boss with a Corona wagon like this in white with the bench seat and automatic on the column. It held up fairly well here in the Northeast with eventual rocker panel rot.

    One of those indelible “where were you when..” moments happened when I was a passenger in the wagon the morning of the Challenger explosion. We had gone out for a run to a tool and die shop for a fixture when we heard about it on the radio.
    The first thing I thought of was the 1967 incident where the three astronauts died on the launching pad.
    I remember waking up that morning getting dressed and listening to the radio news report about the impending launch. The anchor said “Its 27 degrees at Cape Canaveral but the launch is still on” In the back of my mind was ‘Isn’t it a bit cold down there for a launch?” “There’s a reason why the space program is in the Sunbelt”.

    As a comparison my dads 72 Celica rotted from the tops of the fenders through the rockers and eventually into the unibody where the rear axle trailing areas started to separate. A neighbor bought it to part it out and cut the intact rear quarters out for another car.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    This is an interesting find. I had to google this car because I vaguely remember these also being sold in Germany, albeit not in huge numbers (and they probably did not survive the first few winters). It seems they sold rather well in the Benelux countries and Switzerland and of course the United Kingdom.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Used up but not thrashed to death .

    Gaping rust holes in the tail gate ! .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    We had a 76 Corolla wagon when I was a kid in Florida. We also had a pool. My mother had the back full of chlorine for the pool that the pool store put in containers they reused (5 gallon IIRC). The bumps on the loaded rear suspension was too much for one and it burst, dumping 5 gallons of chlorine back there. On the plus side, the stains were no more and the car no longer smelled of funk. 2 years later when we traded it however we weren’t certain the car wasn’t going to break in half it was such a rusty mess back there.

    It did go over 200k which was downright incredible for a car back then, but the last 100k or so were pretty miserable as the AC had long croaked and Florida was hot.

    • 0 avatar
      Gayneu

      Ah, I briefly had a turd brown 76 Corolla wagon as well in college. Great car – decent room for college junk and dependable. Paid less than $1,000 and unfortunately got hit and totaled. 4-speed, tan vinyl, AM-FM – good memories.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I remember seeing new Coronas and Corollas in the late 60s and early 70s and marveling how quite and well built they were for a small car. During that time I was in high school driving my dad’s 62 Roman Red 1962 Chevy II 300 sedan I6 with Powerglide and the American muscle cars were dominate vehicle in the parking lot. They were the only Japanese car I remember seeing–very inexpensive to buy new and a lot of car for the money. One of my classmates father owned a Toyota dealership which is now one of the largest Toyota dealerships in Houston.

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