In many countries, the Corona was one of Toyota's first international exports, and was shortly joined by the smaller Toyota Corolla, providing buyers with a choice of a larger car, with similar operating expenses to the smaller Corolla. The Corona was Toyota's second sedan in their hierarchy of products, just below the Crown, until 1968 when the Corona name was used on a larger, all new platform called the Toyota Corona Mark II, which gave buyers more interior space while still offering dependable, affordable performance.
The Corona became successful in export markets and was marketed under a number of different nameplates worldwide—including those branded in much of Asia as Coronas marketed in European markets as Carinas. While the Corona is no longer in production, the Toyota "T" platform used to build it is still being used.
The first generation Corona, introduced in May 1957, was designed with parts from the previous generation Crown and Master following a major restyle and enlargement of the Crown. Many of the body panels were cut down from the Master which had ceased production. Aside from the four-door sedan, the ST16/PT16 van versions were also available. Originally, the ST10/16 Corona was fitted with the old sidevalve "S" engine, with 33 PS (24 kW). In April 1958 the Corona underwent a light facelift, with a new hood ornament and door handles. The tail light design of this generation is reminiscent of the 1949 Ford sedan.
The 997 cc (60.8 cu in) OHV P series engine replaced the old S in September 1959, and offered substantially more power with 45 PS (33 kW) at 5,000 rpm. The P-engined Corona sedan was capable of traveling at 105 km/h (65 mph). The car also underwent another facelift, including a mesh grille and a new rear seat which allowed seating for five rather than the previous four. As regulations regarding taxis at the time required engines no larger than 910 cc (56 cu in), dealers restricted the power for taxi vehicles. Due to the upgrade in dimensions of the Crown, Toyota needed to continue manufacturing a vehicle with similar size dimensions to the first Crown, primarily to be used for taxi usage. This vehicle saw the introduction of a monocoque chassis structure, and an independent front suspension using double wishbones. Due to the monocoque chassis, Toyota was able to produce a vehicle under 1,000 kg (2,200 lb).
T20, T30 series
This generation of the Corona was also known as the Tiara, when sold by Toyota Motor Corporation in the export. It was introduced at a critical time for the company in North America. Their first flagship car, the Toyopet Crown, was unsuccessful in the US market, and was withdrawn, leaving only a single vehicle, the Land Cruiser. At the time, there was little market for an off-road vehicle like the Land Cruiser. The front end styling of the P20 Corona is reminiscent of the 1955-1957 Ford Thunderbird, and shared its appearance with the entry-level offering, called the Toyota Publica.
The Tiara was supposed to sell alongside the Crown, as a smaller companion. Introduced in 1960, the car was powered by a 45 PS (33 kW) 1.0 L "P" series motor. With a three-speed manual transmission, top speed was a mere 110 km/h (68 mph). In 1961, Toyota introduced a more powerful 1.5 litre "R" series motor, the same motor from the Crown; an even larger 1.9 litre engine was added in 1964. Fortunately for Toyota, the problems with the Crown were not seen on the Tiara as the lighter body (400 lb less than the Crown) made the R series engine more sufficient. The Tiara station wagon was seemingly aimed at women, with many of the original brochures featuring only women in a dinner dress as well as playing golf. Nevertheless, it sold better than the Crown and had a lot less mechanical problems. The Tiara ended up being the only sedan sold by Toyota in the USA until the reworked second-generation Crown appeared. By that time, the Tiara had been redesigned and given the Corona label from the Japanese domestic market. A total of only 318 of these vehicles were sold in the US.
Two concept cars were shown at the 1963 Tokyo Motor Show - the Corona 1500S Convertible and the Corona 1900S Sporty Sedan. The Corona Sports Coupe was a concept car shown at the 1963 Tokyo Motor Show - it shared little with the Corona except the suspension and the name. Load carrying abilities of the newly introduced Corona pickup (which was technically a coupé utility were shared with the heavier capacity Toyota Stout.
T40, T50 series
The third generation was introduced September 1964, and was available in sedan, two-door hardtop, three-door van, five-door station wagon (also as a van), two pickup variants and a five-door hatchback. The Italian designer Battista Farina assisted in the appearance of the new Corona. The 40-43 series were reserved for sedans, while commercial vehicles (and wagons) were in the 46 and 47 series. Hardtops received 50-55 series model codes, while 56 was reserved for the five-door hatchback.
A public demonstration of the new Corona's performance was done on the Meishin Expressway, where the new model was tested to 100,000 kilometres (62,137.1 mi), and was able to sustain speeds of 140 km/h (87 mph). The Corona was released one year after the debut of the Corona's traditional competitor, the Nissan Bluebird. Toyota introduced a smaller vehicle to address the market that needed a more fuel efficient vehicle, called the Toyota Corolla in March 1968. This allowed the Corona to increase in size and offer more passenger and cargo room over previous generations. 0–97 km/h (0–60 mph) time was 15.1 seconds.
Originally, commercial models (three-door van, pickup, and double-cab pickup) utilized the 1,198 cc 2P engine, with 55 PS (40 kW) at 5,000 rpm. This allowed for a maximum load of 500 kg (1,100 lb) for the two-seater versions and 300 kg (660 lb) for the five-seaters. Heavier loads were better accommodated by the Toyota Stout, while larger commercial grade trucks became available at Toyota Diesel Store locations. 1967 also saw the debut of a cab over van equipped for both commercial and commuting duties using the Corona engines, called the Toyota HiAce, offering more payload than the Corona was suited for.
Top speed for the 1.2 litre Corona is 110 km/h (68 mph). In January 1967 this also became available as a five-door van. In May 1967, the larger and more powerful 3P (1.35 litre) and 2R (1.5 litre) engines became available, replacing the lesser 2P in most markets. Power of these were 77 and 65 PS (57 and 48 kW) respectively.
The Toyota automatic transmission, dubbed Toyoglide, was introduced on this version of the Corona. The 4R (12R in Australian versions) engine that had a displacement of 1,587 cc was equipped with a twin SU carburetor (Australian models with 12R engine had one double barrel Aisin downdraft carburetor), and was capable of 90 bhp (67 kW; 91 PS). Disc brakes were also introduced for the front wheels. Exports of this Corona proved popular in the USA and Europe, with increased engine performance and durability improvements over previous versions. In September 1967 alone, Toyota produced 80,000 cars, with 30,000 being Coronas.
In 1967 in Japan, the 1,587 cc DOHC 9R engine was available in the RT55 1600GT 2-door coupe. This engine was essentially the 4R engine with a new twincam head based on the same technology as the twincam engine in the 2000GT.
This was the first Corona assembled in New Zealand, from February 1967 at Steel Brothers' Motor Assemblies in Christchurch.
T60, T70 series
For more information, see Toyota Mark II.September 1968 saw the release of the a larger model called the Corona Mark II. After 1972, this was spun off as a separate platform. The late '60s and early '70s vehicle were powered by a 1,900 cc inline-four engine. Later Toyota introduced two variations of the Mark II with different model names, with different styling and marketing approaches. The sportier Toyota Chaser appeared in 1977, and later in 1980, the high luxury content Toyota Cresta appeared. The Chaser and Cresta were exclusive to the Toyota Auto Store locations, while the Mark II remained at Toyopet Store locations.
T80, T90 series
The RT-80 series Corona was introduced February 1970 and was a complete redesign, and was developed on a separate platform from the Toyota Corona Mark II, which became a larger, more comfortable and powerful car, where the Corona remained focused on fuel economy. Body styles were further reduced to a two door hardtop coupé, a four door sedan and station wagon. The engine continued to use an OHV on base level vehicles, and SOHC on better equipped versions and most of the two door coupés. The engines used in the Mark II were often shared with the Corona. Trim levels originally offered were the 1500DX, 1600DX and the 1600SL (although the 1,900 cc 8R engine was offered in North America and South Africa). A slight change occurred in January 1971, when the 2R and 7R engines (RT80/82/86V) were replaced by the more powerful 12R and 7R units (RT81/84/87V). At the same time, the larger 1.9 litre RT83 was added to the lineup.
A mild restyle appeared August 1972. Among the mechanical updates were electronic fuel injection installed on the 18R-E with a SOHC engine design that appeared in the two door coupé. The 18R-B had twin SU Carburetors, with an electronically controlled automatic transmission, labeled ECT. Four-cylinder engine choices were pushrod 1.35 (van Standard only), 1.5, and 1.6 litre engines, and overhead-cam 1.7, 1.9, and 2.0 litre gasoline units. Vans (wagons) were sold with 1.35 3P or 1.5 litre 2R engines for the first year, but the 1.5 was replaced by the 1.6 litre 12R engine in January 1971. The 1.7 litre 6R engine was added to the lineup in September 1970, and became available in the van in September 1971. North America only received the Corona wagon in July 1972 (and only for the 1973 model year), as the two-litre RT89.
A performance oriented in-house competitor called the Toyota Carina, close in size to the Corona and based on the Toyota Celica platform, was introduced in 1970. It was available at a different dealership sales channel called Toyota Store. This generation Corona was available at dealerships called Toyopet Store. The Corona pick-up was no longer manufactured due to the introduction of the Hilux in 1969. Along with the August 1972 facelift, the Corona received the 2.0 litre engine which appeared in the 2000SL and the 2000SR with fuel injection. The 7R-engined RT82 was short-lived, only being available between
In the United States, the 1970s were probably the Corona's high point, helped by the fuel crises of 1973 and 1979. Competition for sales continued from the Nissan Bluebird, and from a new competitor from the Mazda RX-2 in 1971, with an introduction to the USA in 1972.
These models were assembled in New Zealand (by Steel's) and Australia (Australian Motor Industries or AMI). NZ models initially had a 1.5 litre OHV engine and four-speed manual and then the 6R 1.7 litre OHC engine. After the first facelift (new nose and tail, square instead of round instrument housings) for 1972, the 6R engine was again used. The 1973 facelift (another new grille) saw two models - 1.6 litre OHV with three-speed column-shift manual and bench front seat and 1.7 litre four-speed floor shift manual and high-back buckets. This version was badged 1700SE.
Australian cars used a 1.6 litre OHV engine and four-speed manual. Local content was much higher than the NZ cars with local instruments and heater which meant, surprisingly for the climate, there were no centre air vents.
A modified Corona was shown at the 1970 Tokyo Motor Show as the Electronics Car. Based on the Corona Hardtop 1700SL, it showed many electronic innovations but was not put into production.
T100, T110, T120 Series
August 31, 1973 saw the introduction of the Corona T100-Series, which continued to be built as a two-door or four-door sedans, a two-door hardtop coupé (T110 chassis codes) and as a four-door station wagon (marketed as a van for commercial use in Japan). Engines were 1.6 and 2.0 litres SOHC. In North America, the 20R 2.2 litre engine was used. The high performance 2000 GT Sedan and Hardtop Coupé with 18R-G twin cam engine were only offered in Japan. The two-speed automatic was no longer offered. The face lift revised the hood and grille, and enlarged the tail lights. The station wagon featured optional wood panel body claddings. North American models had longer bumpers (hiding recoverable bumper shocks) to meet local 5 mph (8.0 km/h) impact standards; they gained standard radial tires in 1975. Side door impact upgrades were installed in all doors. This series also saw the standard (on some models) Electro Sensor Panel which monitored fluid and bulb status. As with earlier Coronas, some models had a shifter mounted on the steering column. Sales of the Corona continued to grow as a result of the 1973 oil crisis. The two-door hardtop continued, with trim levels 1600GL, 1800SR and the 2000SR, with the coupé proving popular in the USA but more popular yet in Japan.
The Corona saw a new competitors in both Japan, Europe and the USA from the Honda Accord in 1976, and the Subaru DL in 1974. The advantage the Honda and Subaru had over the Corona was that both vehicles were front wheel drive, while the Corona was rear wheel drive. In response to Honda's CVCC emissions, Toyota introduced the "TTC-V" (Toyota Total Clean-Vortex) on the 19R engine only, using an Exhaust gas recirculation implementation. In Japan, the 12R-U engine was designed to run on LPG for taxi usage, starting in October 1975. The 18R-E engine with fuel injection that was used in the 2000SL and 2000SR discontinued production due to emission issues. In November 1975, the 1800 saw the removal of the twin carburetors due to emission regulations, which meant the discontinuation of the 1800SR coupé. June 1976 saw the installation of a catalyst system included with the TTC-C system.
January 1977 saw a minor appearance change to both the interior and exterior, with a revised grille.
New Zealand assembly began with 1.6 OHV, three-speed manual column shift and bench front seat and 1.8 litre 16R OHC four-speed manual bucket front seat options. Later, the 18R 2.0 litre OHC engine replaced the 1.8 and was also offered with a three-speed automatic, the first auto Corona in NZ. Australian models had the 18R from the start.
In 1978, for Japan only, the T100/110 series was given a mild facelift to resemble the T130 and then sold alongside the T130 series as the T120.
Introduced in Japan in September 1978, the T130 series Corona adopted a boxier design over the outgoing T100/110/120 series. It maintained the standard front engine / rear wheel drive layout of all Coronas that preceded it. The T130 series was available in a wide range of body styles across various markets including a four-door Sedan, two-door hardtop coupe, four door wagon and new five-door liftback, which featured a 40:60 split fold rear seat. The assignment of "T130" to all Corona bodystyles signified a new approach, instead of a different series number identifyer for different bodystyles.
All models featured Macpherson strut independent front suspension as well as a 4-link trailing arm rear suspension arrangement with a Panhard rod. Disc brakes were fitted as standard equipment on the front of all models. Rear disc brakes were fitted as standard on the 2000GT and 2000SL, which were not available to all international markets. Other models were fitted with rear drum brakes.
The T130 was the last Corona to be marketed in the USA. It was offered as a sedan, wagon, or liftback with either Base or LE equipment. In North America, the Corona was replaced for the 1983 model year by the similarly sized but front wheel drive Camry sedan and five-door hatchback. Since then, the Camry has grown a size larger than the Corona and its sportier Carina sister car.
The T130 series was manufactured with a wide range of engine and transmission combinations. 1.6 litre 12R, 2T (and associated 12T) and 2.0 litre 18R engines are the most common. Amongst other minors change, the 1.8 litre 3T / 13T engine was added in 1981 to replace the 1.6 litre 2T / 12T. The North American Corona shared the 2.2 litre 20R engine with the Celica. Emission regulations passed in 1978 were applied across the range of models offered. The 1.8L engine was equipped with electronic fuel injection as well as the 2.0L engine. In Japan the venerable 2.0L 18R-G was offered in the range-topping 2000GT, developing 101 kW (135 hp) at 5800 rpm
Toyota Australia manufactured sedans and wagons using 1.9 L Holden Starfire engines, badged in Toyota engine terminology as the 1X, coupled with a 4 speed or optional 5 speed Borg-Warner 505. Toyota Australia also imported 4 door sedans and 5 door liftbacks fitted with a 2.0 litre 18R engine for the upmarket range.
New Zealand assembly started with the 1.6 litre OHV 12R engine and three-speed manual transmission with bench front seat, and 1.8 litre 3T with a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic. The 1.6 was soon changed to the newer 2T engine, coupled with a four-speed manual and bucket front seats. Later in the run, Toyota NZ added a locally assembled Liftback version with the 1.8 litre engine and manual or automatic transmission. These models also had a standard radio and separate cassette deck - both were rare factory fittings in the country at the time.
Production of the T130 ended in 1982, to be replaced by the new, modern T140 series.
The longest running Corona T140 series appeared as a rear wheel drive sedan, coupé or wagon which began production in Jan 1982 and continued manufacture by Toyota Australia until 1987, by which time the T150 series had already been released. The T140 series was also brought out in a diesel/LPG powered, high-roofed taxicab version which was particularly popular in Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore.
Starting with this generation series, the Toyota Carina platform was altered from its original Toyota Celica beginnings to the Corona platform. The Corona remained exclusive to Japanese dealerships Toyopet Store, and the Carina continued to be sold new only at Toyota Store locations in conjunction to the larger Toyota Crown.
1600 Standard, DX, GL, SL 4dr sedan, 2dr hardtop, 4dr liftback coupé (standard only sedan) 88 hp (12T-U) rigid rear axle 4 speed gearbox (SL 5 speed) brakes: front disc, rear drum 1800 DX, GL, CX, LX, SL 4dr sedan, 2dr hardtop, 4dr liftback coupé 95 hp (13T-U) rigid rear axle 5 speed gearbox brakes: front disc, rear drum 1800 EFI SL, EFI SX 4dr sedan, 2dr hardtop, 4dr liftback coupé 105 hp (3T-EU) rigid rear axle with anti-roll bar 5 speed gearbox brakes: front disc, rear disc 2000 CX 4dr sedan, 2dr hardtop, 4dr liftback coupe 105 hp (21R-U) rigid rear axle with anti-roll bar 5 speed gearbox brakes: front disc, rear disc 2000 GT II, GT 4dr sedan, 2dr hardtop, 4dr liftback coupé 135 hp (18R-GEU) rigid rear axle with anti-roll bar 5 speed gearbox brakes: front disc, rear disc
European export versions received the 2T (1,588 cc) four-cylinder, with 75 PS (55 kW) DIN. There was also an 86 PS (63 kW) 1.8 litre engine, as well as the 1.8 liter 1C diesel unit, with a claimed 58 PS (43 kW) DIN. The T140 Corona was not exported in large numbers to Europe, as most importers focused on the slightly smaller Carina and then the front-wheel drive T150-series cars.
- 1983 onwards
Standard, DX, GX 4dr sedans 83 hp (3A-U) GX, EX 4dr sedan/2dr hardtop 100 hp (1S-U) GT 4dr sedan/2dr hardtop 130 hp (4A-GE) GT-T, GT-TR 4dr sedan/2dr hardtop 160 hp (3T-GTEU)
For the Australian market, there were two models sold between 1983 and 1987: the ST141 with a 2.0-litre 2S-C and the RT142, fitted with a 2.4-litre fuel-injected 22R-E. Both models were available in either sedan or wagon body styles. Lower trim level vehicles such as the "S" and "CS" were fitted standard with a four-speed manual transmission (optional five-speed manual and 3- or 4-speed automatic). The higher trim levels were the "CSX" and "Avante" models, the latter not released until 1984. Toyota Australia introduced a facelift in 1985. This included the addition of the "Avante" grille insert on the lower-specification models, new wheels trims on all versions, and revised tail lamp lenses. The pre-facelift models can be identified by tail lamps with dual black horizontal lines engraved along the base. The facelift models received lenses with a single, more subtle, horizontal line intersecting across the centre of the tail lights.
For the Japanese market only, the five-door wagon (called "Van") was available with a 1.5-litre 5K-J petrol engine, a 1.6-litre 12T-J petrol engine or a 1.8-litre 1C diesel engine. The petrol engines had either a 4-speed manual or a 3-speed automatic gearbox but the diesel engine had a 5-speed manual gearbox. Some wagons had five doors but no rear seat.
After the late 1985 introduction of the T160 Corona Coupé, the rear-wheel drive coupé was discontinued. The sedan range was gradually whittled down and by May 1986 only the 1.5 and 1.8 (3A-U, 1S-U) remained, along with a 1.5 Van (KT147V) and a 1.8 Diesel Van. These continued to be available until the December 1987 introduction of the T170-series Corona.
The special bodied taxi version was a spinoff of the T140, used specially as taxicabs in Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Panama and Singapore. It was first introduced with the 1.8-litre 1C diesel engine in January 1982 (CT140). In September an 1.8-litre LPG version (YT140) was added to the lineup. In addition to getting a new rear end and a taller, more upright roof line for a more comfortable rear seat, alterations were also made to the headlights and grille. While based on the T140, the front and rear sections took their design cues from the A60 Carina. In December 1986 the car underwent a light facelift, and the diesel option was upgraded to the 2-litre 2C version (CT141).
The car was not generally sold for private use. After November 1991, the diesel option was no longer available for the Japanese market but was still available for export (e.g. Macau). Production only came to an end in April 1998, generally being replaced by the T130-series Crown (later renamed Comfort). This marked the end of the Corona taxi line. Most countries have since replaced the 140/141-series taxis with newer vehicles - Macau and Pakistan are among the few countries still using it on a regular basis.