Third-generation Toyota Corona brought back FIN MAN memories

By: Bruce Kunz

October 8th, 2017

St. Louis Post Dispatch:  Old Car Column

The recent “Rollin’ With The FIN MAN II” tour of St. Louis destinations included a visit to MotoeXotica, one of St. Louis’ premier dealerships for collectible automobile sales and consignments.

From there, we made our way to Precision Restorations, a 27,000-square-foot business dedicated to mechanical and cosmetic exterior and interior restorat

ion of vintage motor vehicles.

Then, it was on to Miss Cheri’s Cafeteria for lunch. Our final destination was Randall’s Wines and Spirits at Old Halls Ferry and Interstate 270, in North County, where our group cast eyes on George Randall’s personal collection of 30 cars and trucks.

This first local RWFM tour of multiple destinations brought with it a spate of logistical challenges. As a result, I had to fill about an hour of dead time with something at the last minute.

Checking Tom McDonald’s (Lakers Car Club) comprehensive calendar of St. Louis area car shows and cruises, I found a show in the 7000 block of South Broadway, which worked out perfect to fill the time between Miss Sheri’s and Randall’s. It was a wonderful show in a park setting under the shade of trees. Show attendees did a double take as our Vandalia Bus Lines motor coach pulled up to the barricades and began to unload our group. The weather was great and the display of cars was quite interesting.

One rather unlikely attention-getter for the average show visitor was the Toyota shown on this page. At first glance, one might say, what’s so special about this car. Well, when is the last time you’ve seen a third generation Corona in this good of shape? And it was a two-door hardtop to boot! But, for me, there was more to it than that.

So, about those memories.

The year was 1968. I was a newlywed with my first child on the way. I was perusing the help wanted ads and came across a dealer close to home looking for a car salesman. The dealer was World Wide Car Imports Ltd., owned by Robert Merriman. Located on the corner o

f North Lindbergh and North Florissant Road, in Florissant, it was, I believe (correct me if I’m wrong), the first Toyota dealership in the St. Louis area. What a thrill it was for a 21-year old guy to be selling new cars and getting a demo to drive! My tenure there was short, however, partially due to the fact the new Japanese import had not yet been widely received by much of the American market.

The third-generation, T40/T50 models were sold from 1966-1

972 with little change from one year to the next. It was available in sedan, two-door hardtop, three-door van, five-door station wagon (also as a van), two pickup variants and a five-door hatchback. Interesting is the fact the one you see here had factory air-conditioning, not something found often on entry level compacts back in “the day.”

Built in Motomachi, Japan (as well as South Korea and Port Melboure, Australia), it was powered by a series of 4-cylinder engine ranging from 1.2 to 1.9 liters as the years went by. Gear shifting was accomplished via three- or four-speed manuals or a 2-speed Toyoglide automatic.

By the time I became involved with World Wide Imports, the third generation Corona was called the Corona MKII. May I have a lime withthat?

Thanks for reading the Old Car Column and Keep on Cruisin’!


Bruce Kunz, a.k.a. “THE FIN MAN,” is a member of the Society of Automobile Historians. If you love old cars and care about kids, visit thefinman.com.