28 November 2019

Special feature #2: SG's Toyota Corona

It has been a while since I did a special feature as I did not have the chance to talk to owners previously. I hope to do this once a while, now that I have content. Let me introduce you to this humble 1991 Toyota Corona T170 CD that does not exist anymore...

The Toyota Corona was first introduced way back in 1957, where it was first used as taxis in Japan. Over the years, it evolved gradually to become a popular people's car, including Singapore which received the 3rd-generation model in 1964. Its name is derived from the corona (the scattered light around the sun during a solar eclipse), and it was supposed to signify a 'bright and friendly family car'.

The Corona T170 was the 8th generation model, first released in 1987. It was available in a 4-door sedan and 5-door liftback version and featured a variety of engines. For the Singapore market, we primarily received units powered by a 1587 cc 4A-FE i4 engine, with a choice of automatic or manual gear transmission. The Corona of this generation was larger than its predecessors, up to the 1700 mm maximum width that made it eligible for lower taxes in Japan. It had a facelift in 1989, where the horizontal grille bars became vertical. The T170 Corona was 4480 mm long and weighed 1210 kg.

Production of the T170 Corona ended in 1992, where it was replaced by the T190 model. Borneo Motors, our local Toyota dealer, first sold them in 1988: apparently the managing director sent out video-cassette tapes to 2,000 owners of the Honda Accord, detailing the rally success and improved features of the Corona. Honda got so concerned that they sent 2 executives from Japan to take a look at Borneo Motors's facilities!

This particular unit was owned by a member of the motoring club in my school for a few months: he had recently bought it from a car dealer when he wanted a cheap and economical car to work on. As with a car that old, it broke down a few times and repair costs was dear on a student budget. Coincidentally, I had seen the exact unit 2 years ago (when it was with the previous owners), and SG graciously took a few of us for a short ride around school. It reminded me of the older taxis of the past, especially in a less-common manual transmission. The cloth seats and the audible rumble of the engine was pretty iconic, and the drive was smooth and efficient.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take more pictures even when I saw it around school: it did not occur to me at that time. SG decided to sell it due to a limited budget, even though he had driven it across to Malaysia to display it at a retro car show, among other adventures. However, no one bought it despite the discounts he gave, and it was sadly scrapped back in May when its lifespan was up.

The Corona T170 is quite iconic for me, since it was the bread-and-butter car that most people would recall driving back then. Not many Coronas are left in Singapore as people upgraded to better and safer cars, although I managed to see another manual unit a few weeks ago! It is always nice to see such regular cars on the road: they are a part of our motoring heritage even though they are overshadowed by many exotic favourites. Maybe you'll be able to see one of them some day and I hope you'll appreciate it for what it's worth!

SG kindly provided some of his pictures, featuring close-up shots!


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