The Toyota Corona went off the roads long ago. Otherwise the car would have become a victim to the fury of people exasperated by the pandemic of the same name these days!
Corona means crown in Latin. By the end of the 1950s, when Toyota was planning to export their cars to foreign markets, the Corona was developed. Positioned above the Corolla, it was available in America, Asia and the Gulf states from 1957 to 2001. It was seen as a bigger and premium car but with a low maintenance similar to that of the smaller Corolla.
In the beginning of this century, the Corona made way to the Camry. Today, the Corona is not sold anywhere in the world under the Toyota brand. However, it was one of the successful cars in the history of Toyota and it got as many as 10 generations.
Like all Japanese cars, the Corona too had a humble start. When it was launched in 1957, it was a four-door sedan with a simple body and all mechanical facilities. Sharing several components from earlier models like the Master and the Crown, the Corona, according to the custom then, had a van model too for commercial purposes.
The Corona that came with the old side-valve 997 cc, four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive looked a lot similar to our Ambassador. Though the 24 bhp it produced was not considered low those days, it nevertheless got upgraded to 33 bhp later. The top speed was 105 kmph. The low-powered model was used to run as taxis. Those days, the engine power of cars running as taxis was fixed by authorities.
History says that only the best cars are used as taxi. Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan and Volkswagen became popular as taxis because of their build quality, reliability and low maintenance. The tale of the Corona is not different. Through 10 generations, it also became the world's most popular taxi. Despite rough use in several countries, the Corona stood its ground.
Premium Mark II
Since people hesitated in buying the car with a taxi tag, Toyota got worried. To get over the taxi fixation, Toyota introduced the Corona Mark II. It remained a Corona just in the name and the rest was all premium - it was bigger and had more features. The strategy of Toyota became a success. From 1968, the Mark II was sold like a separate model and helped in improving the sales of the Corona.
Carina and Camry
In between, the Corona got sports, coupe and two-door body styles. It made its debut in motorsports too. The 10th generation Corona that was launched in 1996 was retailed only in Japan as Corona Premio. After 2001, the Corona made way for the Carina and later to the Camry in global markets.