Friday, August 12, 2011

Los Angeles Street Sighting - 1970 Toyota Corona Mark II

Rounding out this series of quote-unquote "Big Three" Summer Road Trip Wagons is one from the most recent addition to the top-seller podium: Toyota. For a few years, Toyota pulled ahead of GM in North American sales, taking the #1 spot. That lead, of course, imploded when the entire news media and blogosphere jumped on Toyota for its unintended acceleration scandal, and subsequent recall of just about every Toyota model sold in the US for some problem or another.

I haven't posted many old Toyotas here at California Streets, probably because I always wonder how significant some of them are. What's the age/rarity cutoff for a historic Toyota versus one that's simply old?
In the case of this circa 1970 Corona Mark II wagon, I think the answer is simple. When the heck did you last see one of these? I can tell you when I last saw another one: May 2010, in a parking lot, beat to hell and jacked up on a 4x4 truck frame with copious amounts of steel diamond plate and huge tubular bumpers. Not how most people picture an old Japanese car. Predictably, I spotted this one in Los Angeles, kitty-corner from the Petersen Automotive Museum in the heart of the classic import scene. Toyota began its gradual conquest of the United States car market in the city of Torrance, only 20 or so miles away.

While it's old, interesting and probably pretty rare, I seriously doubt the owner cares very much about that fact. The bumper stickers in the back window tell us that they are more interested in vegetarianism and stopping animal lab testing than how the car looks. The car is probably a kick-around that was picked up cheap and gets reasonably good fuel economy without falling apart. It does look as though the salt air of the coast has gotten to it in a few places, though, and I have no clue what happened to the front doors but it looks like a frat boy jumped up and down on the hood. Fun detail: note the keyhole in the passenger side fender, used for arming and disarming an old-style car alarm. My dad's old truck has one of those. The half-length roof rack is an interesting touch as well and the front end styling reminds me of a cross between a 1971 Celica and an early AMC Gremlin.

It's not too late to restore her, but it would take a lot more massaging or replacement of body panels than the car's market value is worth - it would have to be a labor of love. Perhaps someday the right person will come along and save it.

...And for those of you who didn't believe me about the 4x4 Corona, here it is.


  1. Great! Your pictures are better than mine! Haha, in all serious, neat writeup, and that 4x4yota can blow up!

  2. Nice looking car. It's too bad these cars are so rare. I've always liked the look of the 1969 and 70 Toyota Corona Mark II. I prefer the station wagon version the best. If I could find something like this closer to where I live, I'd check it out.