That Toyota Corona made my dad ahead of his time.


I never really think of my dad as cutting edge. After all, he never owned a computer. He bought a cell phone once, but never really used it. And he didn’t even get a Visa card until he was in his 60’s.

But buying a Toyota Corona back in 1970 put him ahead of the crowd.

Toyota Corona
Toyota Corona

Of course I can’t tell you that my dad prognosticated the future and realized that Toyota was an up and comer. That someday he’d be able to brag to his friends that he owned one before anyone had a clue they’d be cool. No, his motivation was much simpler. It was cheap.

My older sister had been driving our Rambler station wagon that blew out its head gasket in a stream of white steam on the freeway one day. It was, of course, my fault because she was driving me to a friend’s house. That fact that we didn’t notice the problem until lots of people drove by frantically waving and pointing to the steam meant that the engine was cooked.

Since this was the car my sister needed for school and work, my dad had no desire to spend any real money, and apparently that’s just what it took to buy a Toyota Corona in those days.  It was baby blue and old enough and strange enough that resale was a joke. I remember going to the dealership and wondering why I’d never seen one of “them” before.

That first Toyota was not an impressive machine, but it worked. I never once remember it not starting, or blowing puffs of steam on the freeway. It was tinny and probably a death trap. But it definitely laid the foundation for Toyota’s assault on North America. The Corona hit the US in 1964. They claimed it seated six, but two of those had to be really skinny. In fact, make that four. It had a whopping 90 horsepower engine that took supposedly could make the car hit 90. Thank god we never tried.

No one in my family remembers much about how long we had it or how it exited our lives. That means it wasn’t a favorite, but it also wasn’t a car we hated. It was simply transportation, just as Toyota intended.

And my dad was on the cutting edge.

By the way, here’s a great video about a guy who collected Coronas.


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