Toyota Tales
The Japanese RT40 Corona
30 March 2008

Prologue: Back in March of 2003 there was an interesting post that showed up in the old
TORC Forum. It went like this:

    I can’t understand English.
    I am sorry by the strange sentence.
    I have RT40 Corona in Japan.
    I have enjoyed visiting your site.
    A photograph was seen, too.
    It is deep emotion though RT40 Corona is being treasured.
    Treasure it from this as well.
    http://ww4.enjoy.ne.jp/~rt40/index.htm

I visited the site and was excited by what I saw, even though it was written in Japanese, the
photos said it all. With the help of my friend Terry, we contacted Nobu, exchanged pictures &
shared our passion for the Corona. Hopefully this international exchange will lead to a long &
fruitful future and we can learn more of Japan’s car culture.

The Japanese RT40 Corona by Nobu Kawakami
(translated by Terry, Edited by Toyotageek)

Since I have come to know there are many RT40 enthusiasts in the U.S., I am glad
to introduce my ’65 RT40 that I have owned since 1999. As you may know, this is
the 3rd generation of Toyopet Corona that was introduced in order to overthrow the
410 Datsun Bluebird back in September 1964.

I had never imagined that I would be into the RT40 when I first saw an early model
RT40 at a used car shop in my neighborhood in 1995. The major reason why I
finally became interested is because of a client visiting to my work with his early
RT40 in the fall of 1998. That guy had owned his car for 30 years since he bought it
as a 2 year-old used car back in 1967, and it still had an old license plate on (called
“single number” in Japan, it’s considered historical much like the black & yellow
plates in the California). I liked the style very much and asked him if he could sell it
to me, and his answer was “NO” - indeed. Therefore, my search for a RT40
started. As a kid I thought we used to see many RT40’s running around in towns,
but unfortunately I only remember a RT40 in a kids TV program named “
Robo-
kon”. Now I have realized that such a great car was a part of it.

My search for a RT40 wasn’t so easy, but I finally checked one ad in a car
magazine, and had no doubt. The next moment I was dialing the phone number to
buy it without test driving or even looking at it. It was almost impulsive. Arrival of
my RT40 revealed that it’s fender and hood’s paint peeled off, the float in the
engine didn’t work because of gasoline in the carb, and there was no license number
on it. It couldn’t start at all, but I fixed it, and I was finally happy to drive it and go
through registration 3 weeks later.

Now I am with my RT40 waiting to restore it little by little. It has been running
good. My web site, Corona RT40 page, “
Arrow Line Corona Owner's Club”, has a
Corona Owners Gallery. 40 people in Japan have signed up, including several from
the U.S. (mostly TORC members). We mostly exchange information on the site.
Here in Japan, there are many meetings for Old Toyotas, but not many of the
Corona’s get together at the same time (because of the distance). The 40th
anniversary of the RT40 is coming next year, so we have planned to have a big
meeting. In the future, there should be more and more Corona owners in Japan and
the U.S. and I look forward to keeping in touch, and that the love for RT40 will go
on forever!

This story originally appeared in the September/October 2003 issue of the TORC newsletter.

Unfortunately I lost touch with Nobu-san over the years, but that contact was the beginning of
many others for me with many fantastic Toyota enthusiasts from Japan. And so, an
international exchange was forged and continues to this day.
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