Case Study – My Toyota Corona
– By Peter A
I have recently (2011) put my 1986 Toyota Corona Avante 2.4i on Club Permit registration.
Apparently from what I have been told there were a few eyebrows raised when I took it out on its first club event. Shock horror, a ‘modern’ car on club permit!!
Well time goes past and I can remember these cars when they were new.
In fact my employer provided me with a bog standard “S” model at the time. I suspect that many of the raised eyebrows were of a similar age to myself and did not realise that time has passed by.
Of course the younger generation see things differently and classic cars are a bit novel as they are older than some of our youth and have technology that is new to them, albeit old technology.
These cars have some character that is lacking in the current global cars. Modern cars are very good but at the same time are incredibly bland, anonymous and lack driver engagement.
They are so good that the driver does not need skill other than to point the car in the right direction. I suppose they will be classics one day as well.
So what constitutes a classic car?
Is it more than being more than 25years old? My view is that by being “historic”, a car over 25 years old represents an expression or snapshot of a previous era, one which can be looked back on with various emotions which might reflect the historical perspective from a range of directions. History can be educational and inspiring.
Having said that, what is of interest to me to have my Corona on the road under club Permit?
Firstly, the car is not new to me. It was my daily drive for quite a few years and then it was rendered superfluous by the outright purchase of another car. A decision was made to keep the car as it was well maintained and was not worth a lot of money anyway. If the new car did not measure up the Corona could be recommissioned.
Secondly, it was an impulse purchase of a car I wanted to have straight after driving it. Having had previous experience with the earlier base model I had often wondered about the differences within the range of Corona models available.
The unexpected opportunity came up locally with the availability of the last of the model top-of-the-range Avante 2.4i, fully featured with the exception of factory cruise control. And it was red. A lap around the block and it was mine.
The main feature upgrades were 2.4ltr efi motor vs. 2 ltr carby motor, power steering, 4 speed overdrive auto transmission, air conditioning, electric mirrors, central locking, independent rear suspension (IRS) and 4 wheel disc brakes,
It was the last of the rear wheel drive Toyotas made in Australia. It was a hard car to find then and harder to find now. It is amazing how quickly markets change.
Despite the niceties it is still a fairly small short wheelbase car and is not particularly space efficient when compared with later front wheel drive cars.
However it does have velour upholstery, adjustable lumbar support for the drivers seat, hatch to the boot, remote boot and fuel filler door release, tinted glass all round and a very good sound system for its day.
The big upside is that it is great to drive.
1100kg with 2.4 ltr efi makes it a quick car in an urban environment and it is easy to handle and park. My shocker upgrade is a bit firm and whilst the ride is a bit choppy at times it is immensely “chuckable” that is, well balanced and can be “driven” with both the steering and throttle. It is very smart off the line and can be somewhat of an irritant to much more powerful and prestigious cars with its nippiness, gap filling and point-to-point ability.
The car has now done 315,000 km and has received regular maintenance, mainly being 5,000 km oil and various filter changes.
As the 300k km mark approached, a number of items required attention, simply fair wear and tear viz repaired/replaced radiator, water pump, shock absorbers, brake pads, tail shaft rebuild (a story in itself); aircon compressor and alternator.
Surprisingly the fuel tank had to be replaced owing to rust pinholes. The recommissioning of the car required oil, coolant and brake fluid changes and the obligatory new windscreen for the RWC.
Parts so far have not been a problem although secondhand body parts are now scarce. With high scrap prices many older cars do not even make it to the wreckers these days so there is a fairly rapid decline in the availability of cars and parts. Sourcing the correct taillight damaged by a shopping trolley proved a challenge.
Mechanical parts and servicing are straightforward and the parts I have required have been available off the shelf. Workshop manuals are available.
Like most pre 90’s cars now, the Coronas tend to fall into two categories, tired daily drivers, or well maintained shopping trolleys often driven by the original owner. These are the cars that come up for sale eventually as part of deceased estates or handed down within the family then to become daily drivers.
I am very happy to have my Corona back on the road, and it provides an enjoyable and distinctive change of driving experience from what I regularly drive. I am also very happy to have made the decision to keep it for the long term, as it is now a fairly difficult car to replace.
Happy motoring from Peter A