1968 Toyota Corona

Hardtop Coupe
Chassis Num: RT52-34840
Sold for $11,000 at 2015 Bonhams.
In 1937 the Toyota Motor Company was established and introduced its first car, the Model AA, that same year. Toyota's were offered for sale in the United States in 1958 with the arrival of the Toyopet. Toyota manufactured several series of cars under the Corona nameplate from 1957 through 2002 with at one point a parallel series called Corona Mark II. There were six Corona body styles in 1968; 2-door hardtop coupe, 2-door pickup and another with an extended cab, 3-door station wagon, 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback. The Corona was paired with either the 'toyoglide' two-speed automatic or three- and later four-speed manual transmission.

This vehicle is an original 1968 Corona Coupe which belongs to the Generation 3 T40/T50 series that ran from 1964 through 1969. It's a California black plate car with just 26,000 miles sold new in Daly City, not far from San Francisco's airport. It was discovered tucked away in a San Francisco garage in 2007. It is powered by the 3-RC 1900cc motor and the optional 2-speed Toyoglide automatic transmission. It wears its original finishes throughout. The original seller of the car is believed to be Daly City Toyota Motors.

The car has its original factory tool kit and jack, and the factory spare wheel and cover.

In 2007, the car was purchased by Martin Swig. Minor servicing soon followed, including a rebuilt carburetor and various other times. The paintwork was refreshed.

In 2008, the car was shown at the Carmel Concours-on-the-Avenue followed by the Palo Alto Concours d'Elegance in 2011.
Introduced in 1957, the Toyota Corona enjoyed a nice life span up to 2001. Its first and final years the Corona was only made in Japan and was considered to be a large vehicle in most markets. Within North America, the rear wheel drive Corona was generally considered to be an upscale compact or mid-sized vehicle depending on the model year.

Originally marketed as a compact car, the Japanese market loved the Toyota Corona. The Corona has been Toyota's principal export entrant, and the very first model of the Corona to be exported was the third generation, launched in 1964. This third generation was exported in great quantities. The Toyota Corona Mark II was the more luxurious model that was exported very often, and later spun off into its own separate platform.

Providing big-car comfort, looks and features in a small cute little package, the Toyota Corona came with a 98.4 in. wheelbase. The front suspension in the Corona used coil springs with a torsion-bar stabilizer, and the rear used semi-elliptical leaf springs. Double-action hydraulic shock absorbers were utilized on all four wheels. Reciprocating-ball steering was used for the first time and the turning diameter was 32.8 feet.

For 1969 the Corona featured a 116 cubic inch engine four-cylinder OHV that achieved 90 hp at 4,600 rpm with 110 lb/ft at 2,600 rpm. This version used a two-barrel carb, and a four-speed synchromesh manual transmission or a two-speed automatic. Weighing in at approximately 2,260 lbs, the Toyota Corona was a ‘true lightweight by American standards' and featured a very well balanced engine. Two styles were available, the sedan and the hardtop and both featured unit-body construction. The Corona could achieve a top speed of 90 mph and had a gas mileage of 25 mpg.

More than half of the U.S. population fell in love with the Toyota Corona and the 1970's were a great year for this car. The Corona was also popular due to the high rise of fuel economy from 1973 through 1979. The T100 series were the first Corona's to make it over to America. The series featured a sedan, hardtop coupe, wood-festooned wagon and a van that was powered by a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine. Establishing Toyota's presence in the U.S. the Corona was a distinctive vehicle that featured 90 hp four-cylinder that achieved 110 lb/ft of torque. In 1967 Toyota's overall sales were 476,807 and 659,189 in 1968.

In 1969 Toyota introduced the Corona Mark II that came with a longer 99-in. wheelbase and a slightly smaller engine that produced 108 gross hp at 5,500 rpm and 117 lb/ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. The Mark II sedan weighed 2,305 lbs, the hardtop weighed in at 2,315lbs and the wagon weighed 2,405.

The Toyota Corona continued on successfully, while the Mark II continued on as a separate model through the mid-1970s. The Corona received the Mark II's 1.9-liter engine in 1971, a 2.0 liter engine in 1972 and a 2.2 liter engine in 1975. The Corona weighed 2,170 lbs and cost $2,150 in 1971. In 1970 Toyota passed the one-millionth sale.

With 110 lb/ft of torque at 2,600 rpm, the 1971 Corona had 90 gross hp at 4,600 rpm. This Corona weighed 2,235 lbs and was sold for $2,176. In this same year the Mark II cost $2,437, weighed in at 2,280 lbs and featured 108 hp at 5,500 rpm and 117 lb/ft engine. In 1975 the Toyota Corona received the newest variation on the R series 4-cylinder engines.

In 1979 the T130 model was introduced. The van was dropped, while a liftback was added to the lineup. They all retained the same engines, though they were continuously modified. In 1981 the US-spec Corona received a 2.4-liter engine with a slight decrease in horsepower.

The Corona was marketed in several other countries with various names such as the Corona FF, the T142 model, the Toyota Carina and several others. The Corona was replaced with the larger Camry in New Zealand and Australia. But at the same time, in the mid-1980's, a newer version of the Corona was introduced, the Corona Coupe which featured a unique sheet-metal. A four-door hardtop Corona EXIV was introduced and replaced the Coupe.

1982 was the final year for the Corona in the U.S. The final export Corona model was called the Carina E in Europe. The Corona SF was a five-door model and the Toyota Caldina in Japan was a station wagon in a separate line. An eleventh and final version was unveiled in 1996 and lasted until 2000. The Toyota Corona Premio enjoyed its ride on the Corona lineup until eventually spinning off as an independent model call the Premio.

By Jessica Donaldson
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