Rare Rides: 1968 Toyota Corona Coupe - an End of Luxury

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides 1968 toyota corona coupe an end of luxury

Today’s Rare Ride hails from the first two decades of Toyota’s North American tenure. The Corona line was midsize, luxurious, and the pinnacle of the company’s offerings on this continent.

Come along and experience Corona.

The Corona was an all-new car for Toyota in 1957. It was created as successor to the Toyopet Master, which was a taxi and fleet vehicle sold alongside the similar Crown sedan. Once Toyota saw the market for the more luxurious Crown, it cancelled the Toyopet Master and replaced it with the less expensive Corona to create some distance from its flagship. The Corona then took the mantle as a smaller and less luxurious sedan.

A short first generation from 1957 to 1960 (T10), was succeeded by a second generation that existed from 1960 to 1964 (T20/30). Today’s Corona is part of the third generation, which spanned the long seven years from 1964 through 1970. Introduced just prior to the start of the ’64 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Toyota’s new model trailed the introduction of a new Nissan Bluebird (its main competition) by a full year. So the new car could be a bit larger and more expensive than prior versions, Toyota introduced a new car to serve the lower end of the market starting in 1966: the Corolla.

The Corona was available in a shocking six body styles. Customers chose from two-doors in pickup and hardtop variation, a three-door van, four-door sedan, and a five-door wagon and hatchback. All were front-engine and rear-drive, utilizing inline-four engines of 1.2- to 1.9-liters of displacement. Transmissions had two, three, or four speeds, with the two-speed as the automatic offering. Keen to show the longevity of its new mainstream car, Toyota tested the Corona on a Japanese expressway for 100,000 miles. Able to sustain very high speeds of 87 miles per hour, it reached 60 in just over 15 seconds.

In 1968 a new larger Corona debuted, the Mark II. An increase in size and equipment brought the model upmarket, and the new car even shared some features with the pinnacle Crown. The Mark II in this guise was built through 1972, and was the next-largest vehicle to Crown. It was still sold at Toyopet Stores, however, which meant it wasn’t as illustrious as vehicles sold at Toyota Store locations. The introduction of the Mark II signified that the end was near for the Corona as a luxury model.

In 1972 the Corona Mark II received its own platform; it was larger, more powerful, and more luxurious than the Corona which spawned it. For the rest of its life (d. 2001), Corona would be an economy-focused vehicle that occasionally ventured into sporty territory. It passed away after merging with the Corolla-like Carina and Caldina models.

Today’s Rare Ride is beautifully restored in baby blue. With the largest 1.9-liter engine and a four-speed manual, this very rare Toyota did not sell recently when listed for $30,000.

[Images: seller]

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2 of 19 comments
  • Pwrwrench Pwrwrench on Feb 12, 2020

    I suspect that few under age 50 will know that in the USA, at the time of this Toyota, Japanese products were considered cheap, low quality, and (quickly) expendable. As others have mentioned, these were around in large numbers in the mid 1960s-70s. I recall some thinking that Japanese cars were a flash in the pan. I thought, certainly considering the then success of Honda motorcycles, that if they kept at it they would be a "force to be reckoned with". That's how things turned out, but you probably would not have known that if you only looked at a Subaru 360 Star.

  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Feb 12, 2020

    That reminds me of my dad mentioning after a trip to China in the early 90s mentioning how they would be a force to reckon with if they got ther sh** together.

  • Aidian Holder I'm not interested in buying anything from a company that deliberately targets all their production in crappy union-busting states. Ford decided to build their EV manufaturing in Tennessee. The company built it there because of an anti-union legal environment. I won't buy another Ford because of that. I've owned four Fords to date -- three of them pickups. I'm shopping for a new one. It won't be a Ford Lightning. If you care about your fellow workers, you won't buy one either.
  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"