The Toyota Corona was made from 1957 to 2001, its first and last years in Japan only. Considered a large car in most markets, the rear wheel drive Corona was generally considered an upscale compact or mid-sized car, depending on the year, within North America.
The Corona for 1969 used a 116 cubic inch engine four-cylinder OHV pushing out 90 horsepower (gross) at 4,600 rpm, with 110 lb-ft at 2,600 rpm; it used a two-barrel carburetor, and a four-speed synchromesh manual transmission or a two-speed automatic. The car weighed 2,260 pounds, making it a true lightweight by American standards - and sprightly enough with its well balanced engine. Toyota claimed a top speed of 90 mph and gas mileage of 25 mpg, noting that “its big car roominess, luxury car ride, and compact car economy have made it a leading contender for No. 1 rank in foreign imports.” Two styles were available, sedan and hardtop; unit-body construction was used.
The first Coronas to reach American shores were the T100 series, built as a sedan, hardtop coupe, wood-festooned wagon, and van, powered by a 2.2 liter four-cylinder engine (other markets had 1.6 or 2.0 liter engines); a twin cam engine was sold in Japan only, in the 2000 GT sedan and hardtop coupe. The Standard Catalog of Imported Cars credits the Crown with establishing Toyota’s presence in the United States, despite the long-time sales of the Land Cruiser. The Corona was distinctive, and had a 90 (gross) horsepower four-cylinder that pumped out 110 pound-feet of torque. Separate US sales figures for the Corona and Crown are not available, but Toyota’s overall sales were 476,807 in 1967 and 659,189 in 1968 - quite a jump.
The Corona Mark II was brought out for 1969, with a longer 99-inch wheelbase and a slightly smaller (113 cid) smaller engine that produced more power (108 gross hp @ 5500 and 117 lb-ft of torque@3600) but hooked up to the same choice of four-speed manual and two-speed automatic transmissions. Weight was 2,305 lb for the sedan, 2,315 for the hardtop, and 2,405 for the wagon; the maximum speed was rated at 105 hp. The engine had a five bearing crankshaft for durability.
The Mark II continued through the mid-1970s as a separate model, while the Corona soldiered on, gaining 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. In 1971, the Corona started at $2,150 and weighed 2,170 pounds - quite a lightweight by American standards, which allowed the four-cylinder to move at speeds comparable to much larger engines in domestic cars. Toyota’s sales continued to climb, passing the one-million mark in 1970. In 1974, the Corona gained a status center - the Electro Sensor Panel, available only on upper models (described in the 1975 area).
In 1971, the US Corona had 90 gross horsepower at 4,600 rpm and 110 pound-feet of torque at 2,600 rpm. It weighed 2,235 pounds and sold in for $2,176. The Mark II, with its 108 horsepower (5,500 rpm) / 117 lb-ft (at 3,600 rpm) engine and 2,280 pounds of weight, cost $2,437.
Snapshot: 1975-76 Toyota Corona
The Corona was advertised as providing big-car comfort, features, and looks in a small (98.4 inch wheelbase!), sprightly package. It was available as a two or four door sedan, two or four door hardtop, and station wagon.
The front suspension used coil springs with a torsion-bar stabilizer; the rear used semi-elliptical leaf springs. All four wheels used double-action hydraulic shock absorbers. Standard for the time reciprocating-ball steering was used; the turning diameter was 32.8 feet.
For 1975, the Corona got the newest variation on the R series four-cylinder engines, the 20-R also used in the Celica and Half-Ton pickup. The 20-R engine featured electronic ignition, “less tubing and plumbing,” fewer moving parts, and lower emissions. Toyota claimed, with justification, “the silkiest stick in the business.” Unusually, the Corona also used an electric fuel pump for steady pressures. (See our 20R engine page for more.) The gas tank held 14.5 gallons.
Radial ply whitewall tires were new for 1975 (except SR-5) for better handling, gas mileage, and tire life; all models rode on 175SR x 14 tires, except the SR-5, which used 185/70HR14 tires. New styling included “Smooth, classic lines, great new colors, bright window trim, and stylish wheel covers on every model. Big-car features inside, too: New luxury fabric interiors. Reclining front bucket seats. New seatback latches that let you walk right into the Z door models. Wide road visibility through big tinted glass windows, and deep-dish carrying capacity in the trunk.”
Switches for the wiper/washer, headlights, and hazard lights were mounted on the column. Standard features included an electric clock, fresh air heater/defroster, aluminized muffler, body-side molding, center console, color-keyed interior, day-night rear-view mirror, electric rear window defogger, locking gas cap, inside hood release, flow-through ventilation, power front disc brakes (with rear drums), reclining high-back bucket seats, trip odometer, tool kit, touch-up paint, and wall-to-wall carpeting. The Deluxe added vinyl bucket seats (two-door) or upgraded fabric (four-door). Hardtop Deluxe added an AM radio, courtesy light, Electro Sensor Panel (ESP), upgraded fabric, one-hand fold-down rear seat, and automatic transmission. Two-door SR-5 hardtop added those features, plus FM stereo, five-speed manual transmission (instead of the automatic), full console, styled steel wheels, tachometer, vinyl seats, and wide radials with blackwalls. The four-door wagon (only sold as Deluxe) came with a carpeted cargo area, fold-down rear seat, and vinyl covered seats.
There were three transmissions available (gear ratios are reported in our 20R engine page), a three-speed automatic, and four- and five-speed manuals (the latter standard on SR-5, otherwise optional). The Electro Sensor Panel (standard on hardtops) monitored 11 operating areas every second, flashing an early warning when needed (that is, light burn-out; front brake pad wear; and oil, antifreeze, brake, wiper, and battery fluid level.
Safety features included side door guard beams, forward gas tank placement, shock-absorbing bumpers, padded instrument panel, a collapsible steering column, oversized tail-light, and front disc brakes. The front and rear 5-mph bumpers were recoverable, which was unusual.
The Hardtop Deluxe gave a family car in a sporty package, with the Electro Sensor Panel, the same engine, and a bandless automatic transmission; it also included wheel covers, radial whitewalls, tinted glass and side body moldings, and flashes of chrome at the grille.
Options included an eight-track FM stereo and air conditioning, weather guard package, rear wiper washer on the wagon, and simulated woodgrain sides on the wagon.
The 1976 Toyota Corona was similar; Toyota could now boast three million worldwide sales of the vehicle since its inception, as well as slightly better gas mileage than in 1975. The Mark II for this year was the largest, roomiest, and most powerful vehicle sold by Toyota in the United States. We have more photos of the 1976 Corona line at the end of the page.
1975 Toyota Corona Specifications:
1978 Toyota Corona Specifications:
Back to the history
The T130 model, introduced in 1979, added a liftback and dropped the van, while retaining the same engines (modified from time to time). The US-spec Corona gained a 2.4 liter engine in 1981, with a slight decrease in horsepower rating; in that year, the standard transmission had five speeds, and, unusually, the optional automatic had four speeds (with overdrive).
For Americans, 1982 was the Corona’s last year; in 1983, it was replaced by the Camry. Other markets moved on to the T140 and T150 models, which overlapped in time (T140 going from 1981 to 1989, and T150 from 1983 to 1987). A front wheel drive version was developed and named Corona FF or Carina, depending on the country. At different times in different countries, the Corona was replaced by the Camry; in other countries the Carina sold alongside the Corona, including the Carina II and Carina E. The final generation of Coronas was built only for Japan from 1996-2001.
More 1976 Corona photos