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Toyota Corona RT40. Recognition on a beautiful day

Toyota Corona RT40. A beautiful day full of praise
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The tribute could not be more beautiful. I am driving a 40 Toyota Corona RT1970 and photographer Wouter Oud is sitting next to me. Ron and Jan follow with the Camry. We have already completed half of Friesland. And then it happens. On the A7 between Joure and Sneek, the driver and passenger from a Ferrari California Spider respond exuberantly to us, the joy goes further than a thumbs up. I think it's a wonderful compliment to the Toyota. And the compliment makes me even more proud of the brand.

The serenade from the Ferrari is the most beautiful praise of the day. We send a day with the very late Toyota Corona RT40, a facelift copy from 1970. Paulus van Toyota Strikwerda - one of the oldest Toyota dealers in the Netherlands - makes the classic available to us for a beautiful report. Rarely has a car I drove attracted so much attention. Everyone looks up or around, and that sometimes leads to hilarious scenes.


Ron and Jan see even more from the Camry than Wouter and I. They tell about a man who is distracted by the Corona. In such a way that he accidentally cuts part of his cultivated tulip field with his Toro lawnmower. Wouter and I miss the scene, also because the Corona keeps us busy. And later Ron tells that a German is wondering what this is for one PKW† This is a very late and rare Toyota Corona RT40. From Japan. Or rather: from the time when Japanese cars still had a whole European world to win. And that's why they came to our continent with very good cars, also to overcome the already quite conventional skepticism during the mid-sixties. Not to mention the stiff competition.

The report Toyota Corona RT40 belongs to the Japanese pioneers in the Netherlands in the sixties. Today it is rare, especially in this facelift version. The Strikwerda family brought the light blue classic from the Czech Republic to the Netherlands. They ensured that the car was technically and cosmetically refreshed, in order to be able to color the classic world for years to come. This happens regularly, because the Geesje Bosma-Trix Strikwerda team often uses the car in rallies. The shields on the car bear witness to this, as does the tripmaster in the interior. Nice to sit† We are riding it today, and we understand why the women's team travels beautiful courses with it with verve.

I am very impressed with this Toyota Corona from the first meters driven. This car was certainly a top product in its time. Even today it hardly shows any imperfections, but the handbrake does stick for a while. Fortunately, we find out in time. The solution is simple: move the umbrella handle back and forth a few times and the problem is solved. The 1.5 liter 2R engine is an example of flexibility. It is surprising how easily the Toyota Corona moves from its place. It accelerates easily in all four gears, even from the lower revs. And on the highway you pull in four easily to 120 kilometers, you hardly notice it. Gas back is the motto, and that while the 1.5 engine in the front still has enough left to move the pointer on the ribbon speedometer even further to the right. Tempting, but of course we don't.

The Toyota is just as handy on the many inland routes of the day, it is easy to drive. Shifting, clutching and braking (this facelift version has disc brakes on the front wheels) is done the Japanese way: smooth and natural. The drivability of the Corona is top. Decades after its production, it is amazing how easy this car is in everyday traffic. You can easily use it constructively on a daily basis. And yet: in terms of rarity, classical use is emphatically preferred. The reactions of bystanders say enough about that.

The chassis of the Toyota Corona RT40 is perhaps the biggest surprise of the day. The suspension comfort is excellent and works with long and relaxed strokes. The Toyota also bounces pleasantly with gentle movements to the left and right, without the excellent course stability in the least being compromised. You also hardly notice the damping. The driving experience is accompanied by a friendly engine sound, which does not even prominently penetrate the old interior. The furniture is excellent, and the seating position is fine despite the relatively short distance to the steering wheel. The control communicates and reacts gradually and well. Only in a very gentle bend do you have to correct a bit, or give a little more gas. Then the Corona immediately regains its excellent grip.

This Toyota Corona shows why it was the uncrowned king of the middle class of yesteryear. In 2022 we will still crown him. And many bystanders still crown him on a beautiful Saturday. He gets the recognition he deserves for a day. Because this car was screwed together unusually well for its time. It is recognized and acknowledged. And that is also why the goosebumps appear on my arms several times during the beautiful reporting day.

Photos: Wouter Oud
Thanks to Paulus Strikwerda, Wouter Oud, Ron Moës and Jan Hendriks

Toyota Corona RT40. A beautiful day full of praise
Toyota Corona RT40. A beautiful day full of praise
Toyota Corona RT40. A beautiful day full of praise
Toyota Corona RT40. A beautiful day full of praise
Toyota Corona RT40. A beautiful day full of praise
Toyota Corona RT40. A beautiful day full of praise
Toyota Corona RT40. A beautiful day full of praise
Toyota Corona RT40. A beautiful day full of praise
Toyota Corona RT40. Recognition on a beautiful day

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  1. I drove a Toyota for 32 years myself, of which I started in 1976, with a Corolla 20 1200 cc, then a Corolla 1600 sports wagon, then a Toyota Corona from 1977 2.0 5-speed 280.000 km, then a Corolla 1.6 xli from 1989, then a Carina 1.6 xli left with 320.000 km on the odometer, then a Corolla Verso 1.6 with 270.000 on the odometer. After that retired and bought an Audi A2 and we drive to this day, because mommy doesn't want to drive a big car, she always had small models herself. For myself I would like a Rav 4 again.

  2. It is not surprising that many Toyotas and other Japanese did not survive the years. My new 30 Corolla 1976 was completely rotten after 6 years, the thin car paint was sprayed directly on the bare metal, without a primer. So rust like mad. Apparently a Friday afternoon or Monday morning copy, because a yellow Corolla 30 station from 1975 is still driving around in The Hague. In any case, it was my first and also last Toyota.

    • Little sandwich monkey story to be honest. Paint never lasts on bare metal without a primer. And quite frankly, Monday morning cars don't exist at Toyota for the following reason, the production process was already adjusted in such a way that every Toyota had the same quality.

      That does not alter the fact that some colors are stronger against rust than other colors, sounds strange, but it is a fact that we as restorers can sometimes really be surprised about.

      And one more fact…. every car from those years rotted like mad,…. even a Mercedes, and just because the sheet metal of a Mercedes was maybe a little thicker, it simply took longer before the holes became visible 😉

  3. Toyota: there's no better car!!!!!
    I myself have been in the happy possession of a 8,5 year old, virtually intact Celica ZZT23 for 23 years. Can't be broken!!!
    He is therefore very well maintained and spoiled by me.

  4. There are almost no survivors left of old Japanese cars. The 70s Mazda 121 and 818 are also beautifully designed, but have unfortunately completely disappeared.
    In 1968 my father bought this Toyota Crown. Partly due to the lack of knowledge among dealers and the resulting unreliability, this Crown ended up on the scrapyard after only 4 years and 80.000 km. This Crown was then succeeded by a 504 Peugeot in 1972

    • Indeed, perhaps the lack of knowledge among dealers in the early years was a fact, that does not mean that the Toyota Crown was an inferior product in those years. The unknown makes unloved story is more likely to reign supreme with these kinds of anecdotes. I know Crowns from this series that went around the clock several times as a taxi.

      And 80.000 kilometers without proper maintenance was actually quite an achievement for those years if one assumed that a car in those years was simply "on" at 100.000 kilometers,…

  5. Indeed, what Erik writes, a fine solid car that would deserve some more praise in the classic world. The Celica A2# series and the priceless 2000GT have succeeded, now the rest of the Toyota range of yesteryear! And this RT40 facelift version is a good example of this.

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