The word Corona has gotten a bad rap over the past couple of years due to the COVID-19 virus. Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Toyota Corona may bring the term back into our good graces. That is if the price isn’t nausea-inducing.
Yesterday’s 2007 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate elicited a panoply of emotions, all laid bare in the comments. Almost all of you liked the car, its presentation, and its concept. At the same time, the car’s $56,000 price tag found almost no supporters. That drove a huge 85 percent No Dice loss, something the Benz could easily haul home since, after all, it is a wagon.
Have you ever noticed how conservative Toyota’s product planning seems to be? In the case of most automotive trends, it’s the corporate equivalent of a midwesterner suspiciously eyeing the ocean for the first time, mulling whether or not to stick a toe in. Right now that means Toyota is woefully behind the curve on electric cars, with its first fully battery-powered mainstream model coming more than a decade after Tesla jump-started the field and a number of years behind competitors like Nissan and Ford.
This isn’t the first time Toyota has taken baby steps in a major industry transition either. Back in the 1970s, when most carmakers were embracing FWD for their small to mid-sized models, Toyota stuck it out with RWD. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the company started moving to the head of the class with models like the mainstay Corolla and the recently introduced and soon-to-be category conquering Camry.
The 1981 Toyota Corona LE we’re considering today, is, to date, the last gas-powered RWD mid-sized sedan Toyota offered in the U.S. Since then, that layout has been reserved for the company’s upscale model line, Lexus, and the fuel-cell electric Mirai.
The Corona was replaced here in the States by the FWD Camry the year following this car’s release, and while the two models had divergent drivetrain layouts, they did share similar body types, both offering sedans, and five-door Liftbacks as options.
This Corona is the Liftback, and that’s kind of an odd choice for what was once Toyota’s top-of-the-range model considering how hatchback-averse American car buyers traditionally are. Even odder, the car offers a manual transmission, something that at the time was considered more plebeian than sporty.
Here the stick shift stands in stark contrast to the Corona’s plush beige velour upholstery, even with its unique post-pregnancy stretch-mark accents. The rest of the interior is pretty basic but does offer A/C, cruise control, and not one but two horn buttons on the steering wheel. It also offers both a glovebox and a parcel shelf below that in case you have a lot of gloves.
Outside, there’s a little rust evident at the base of the front fenders and some Pep Boys wheel covers that, admittedly, look a little out of place. Another minor demerit for the car is the absence of both the radio antenna on the A-pillar and the wiper for the rear window. Good luck finding either of those. A tow bar is noticeable in the ad’s shot of the load area, with the rest of the hookup found under the front bumper. That’s an indication that this Corona likely once did time behind a motorhome. There are also some spare parts that come with the car — sun visors and an extra carb — it would seem.
Other than all that, the car all looks solid and reasonably clean. That interior too looks perfectly serviceable with just some missing bright trim on the door cards to note, possibly rubbed off from years of elbows pushing the doors open.
Under the hood, you’ll find the vaunted 22R SOHC four. That 2367 cc mill give it up to the tune of 96 horsepower back when the car was new. Keep in mind that was an era when manufacturers were starting to find ponies laying around the factory that had seemingly been lost to emissions and fuel economy demands the decade before. Still, power back then was nothing like what we have today.
According to the ad, this Corona has 170,000 miles on the clock and comes with a clean title. It also has that interesting combo of the Liftback body and a five-speed stick to consider, which seemingly plays against its range-topping LE (Luxury Edition) status.
What might such an incongruous mix be worth these days? The seller asks $8,200 for the car, an amount that, 20 years ago, would have gotten them laughed out of court. Today, with practically no Coronas left around, much less in turn-key condition, that’s perhaps less the case.
What do you think, is this Corona worth that $8,200 asking as it sits? Or, does that price make you advocate social distancing.
H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!
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