While wandering around at Cars and Coffee a few weeks ago, I spotted an odd-looking car with its rear view mirrors attached to the front fenders. “Oh yikes, this thing probably belongs to some weeaboo guy who gets a raging boner from reading his collection of Initial D mangas” I thought to myself. But as I got closer, I could see that this car was not some wanna-be drift machine covered in JDM stickers. No, this car is the real deal.
I’ll admit that when it comes to vintage Japanese automobiles, I know next to nothing about them. However, I know just enough to recognize that this right-hand drive Toyota Corona 2000GT is a very unique automobile here in the USA. Having spent a couple of hours researching mid-1970s Toyotas, I can now proceed to share with you some information about this car.
The sticker on the windshield is from a company called Import25.com. When I looked them up, I discovered a newly-formed business in Scottsdale that specializes in importing vehicles from Japan. To the uninitiated, allow me to explain.
There is a law that all cars sold in the United States must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards as defined by the NHTSA. However, there is a special exemption which allows for the importation of vehicles from outside the US that are at least 25 years old. I suspect that this vehicle may have been brought into the US under this clause.
There are several reasons why you might want to do this. For one, maybe your dream car was never sold in the USA. Or perhaps you moved here from another country and couldn’t bring your personal car with you due to US safety standards. Or maybe you just love cars from other countries! Whatever the reason, it’s a neat loophole that offers a glimmer of hope to serious car collectors.
So let’s get on to the car itself. The Toyota Corona GT was offered as a 2 door hardtop coupe, a 4 door sedan, and a wagon. Though it was sold in the United States, the 2000GT high performance model was only available in Japan. This particular one is right-hand drive, with a thin wood steering wheel whose center cap reads “Special Edition by MSC.”
Under the hood, the car packs a 2.0L twin cam 4-cylinder engine making 130 horsepower with a pair of Mikuni carburetors. Power is routed to the rear wheels by way of a Toyota P51 5-speed manual transmission.
You can tell this was a nice car in its day, what with a full assortment of gauges that are plain and easy to read. The car draws some inspiration from the original Toyota 2000GT which I covered in a previous article.
As it happens, this car is for sale as of June 2014. The asking price is $19,500, which sounds like a lot for a 40 year old Japanese car. But take a look at this thing and you’ll see that it’s quite special.