Toyota Camry Fans! You Can Own the Car That Started It All

·2 min read
Photo credit: Bring a Trailer
Photo credit: Bring a Trailer
  • There's a rarely seen first-gen Toyota Corona for sale on the auction site Bring a Trailer. The aqua 1966 sedan comes complete with 13-inch wheels and a two-speed automatic transmission.

  • The Corona model was the predecessor to the Camry.

  • The no-reserve auction ends on Wednesday, January 19, with bidding as of Saturday at $3000 but sure to go up.

"From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)," Bruce Springsteen once sang. The Boss probably wasn't referencing the first-gen Toyota Corona, but he could have been. This humble sedan—Toyota's second try at selling a passenger car in the U.S. market after the disaster of the Toyopet—is the model to which today's Toyota Camry can draw its lineage. And while the long-serving, bestselling Camry is a big deal, the Corona from which it sprung is indeed pretty small. It's also pretty obscure, which makes this highly original 1966 example, for sale right now on Bring a Trailer (our fellow Hearst Autos website) all the more significant.

We'll grant that the Camry nameplate dates back only to 1983, when Toyota retired the Corona moniker and switched the car from rear- to front-wheel drive. The Corona, though, was the progenitor. Launched in 1965, it was the first Toyota designed for the U.S. market and had such necessities as an automatic transmission and air conditioning. It was offered as a sedan or a hardtop coupe. Selling alongside the Land Cruiser, the Corona helped Toyota triple its U.S. sales to 20,000 units in 1966.

This 1966 model is powered by a 1.9-liter four-cylinder paired with a column-shifted two-speed Toyoglide transmission. The bench seats, chrome wheel covers, and horizontal-band speedometer give it the vibe of a shrunken American sedan. It's said to have been found in a barn near Seminole, Oklahoma, not far from where it was sold new in Tulsa. The seller has brought the car back to running condition, and the dry climate has preserved the body, but the overall presentation is that of an unrestored 55-year-old car.

Surely there are hardcore Camry fans who have collected one from every generation of Toyota's popular mid-sizer. But we ask: Is your collection truly complete unless you have the car that started it all?

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