It's guaranteed to freak somebody out.
The latest coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, is wreaking havoc across the world at this very moment. Containment is key and those who believe they have the virus need to get tested. Is it all overblown? Perhaps. Then again, perhaps not. A global pandemic is never a good thing. Some of you may be asking where the name coronavirus came from? No, it's not named from the beer brand. In Latin, corona means "crown". Virions give off the appearance of a crown when the virus is examined with an electron microscope. Toyota was also inspired by this Latin word when it named one of its first international exports from Japan.
The Toyota Corona first hit the market way back in 1957 and lasted until 2002, depending on the market. In the US, it initially arrived in 1960 to be sold alongside the Toyota Land Cruiser. Remember, Toyota was not yet the global automotive giant it is today; every market and every sale counted.
Jumping ahead to the 1970s, Toyota's presence in North America had greatly solidified and the fourth-generation Corona was introduced. Although it was nothing all that special, the Corona earned itself a reputation for its high build quality and overall reliability. You know, just like all modern Toyotas. But it wasn't until 1973 when the fifth-generation Corona debuted that Toyota finally gave it some design attitude. The new design, especially the two-door, looked great and it sold quite well in the US. But due to safety laws, US models featured longer bumpers to meet impact standards.
Power came from a variety of engines, including the 2.2-liter inline-four with just under 100 horsepower and about 119 lb-ft of torque. It wasn't extremely powerful, but it did the job. The Toyota Corona soon faced stiff competition from other Japanese makes and models, specifically the Honda Accord. While the Corona was rear-wheel-drive, the Accord was front-wheel-drive, making it more economical and better suited for a majority of Americans.
The sixth-generation Corona hit the US market in 1978 but within just a few years, the automaker launched an all-new, FWD model aimed directly at boosting US sales: the Toyota Camry and the rest is history. There was simply no place for the Corona in the US any longer. Looking back at the Toyota Corona's long history, one of the best versions was in the fifth-generation and, unfortunately, it wasn't offered in the US. Big surprise, it was for Japan only.
We're talking about the high-performance Toyota Corona 2000 GT. Both a sedan and hardtop coupe were offered, each powered by a Yamaha-sourced 2.0-liter twin cam 18RG engine. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual. These weren't built in large numbers even for Japan, so the chances of finding one are not great.
The good news is that we found one for sale right here in America. This 1974 Toyota Corona 2000 GT has an asking price of $27,995 and is currently located in California. Because it's JDM, it's right-hand drive. It was reportedly purchased from a private Japanese estate a few years ago and then imported here. It has only 20,226 miles and very little corrosion. The interior looks fantastic for the car's age and check out the Nardi steering wheel. The exterior has Watanabe wheels and factory-installed Mikuni side-draft carburetors.
Yes, the asking price is a bit high, but considering the car's rarity, it's not unreasonable. Just be prepared for a ton of coronavirus-related comments.