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So you want to own something where you’re practically guaranteed to be the only one with such a car every time you attend a classic car meet of any sort? Well, you can forget about those dream E-types, Pagodas and 911s then. You couldn’t be too sure even if your finances allowed you to stretch to one of the legendary 250GT’s from Maranello. But choose wisely among the unsung daily heroes of yesteryear, and you might just pull it off.

Yes you’re right, I’m about to launch into another one of my relentless accolades of a common and ordinary family car from our childhood or youth. If you’ve had just about enough of this by now, please do let us know. We will of course listen interested to your opinion and then endeavour to point you in the direction of one of the more mainstream classic car outlets who instead fill their pages only with hyped dream cars which none of us can afford anyway…

Still here? Excellent! Let’s proceed then. Because today, I’ll make it even more exciting by returning to that extinct specie, the two-door saloon. I’ve declared my love for these three-box saloons previously on these pages when I asked Who Killed the Two-door Saloon? I still haven’t found an indisputable answer yet, but I can confirm that I do still miss these two-door creatures which used to roam our streets.

On the odd occasion, you might still come across a base Ford Cortina or even a Volvo 242, but when did you last see a second generation Toyota Carina? Take a moment and think. Can’t remember, can you? That’s just how long ago it is!

After the huge success of the first Carina (remember; the one with those funky upright taillights?) which remained in production from 1970 to 1977, it was finally time to come up with a successor. At this point it might appear as if Toyota got slightly cold feet as there really wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about with the new Carina. Mechanically it was largely unchanged from the last and updated version of the first generation car, and the design was very conservative to say the least. But that’s of course viewed with today’s eyes, whereas the competition were spitting out very similar products back in the mid- to late-seventies, so perhaps we shouldn’t be too harsh on Toyota? What they did nail was instead their usual Toyota build quality – or should I say indestructability! Well, that is until the rust got them.

Pardon the many pictures of four-door Carinas. I know it’s not right, but Toyota just
release that many period press pictures of their two-door version.

The second generation Carina was internally known as the A40 or the A50 after its facelift and revised rear suspension in late 1979. When it was first launched in 1977, it was with Toyota’s trusty 2T engine – a 1.6-litre OHV 4-cylinder pushing out 75hp. There was a 4-speed manual transmission and drive was still through the rear wheels. There was nothing fancy about it. Instead, it was a no-nonsense car which got on with the daily routine of transporting families and sales reps all around the country – in fact, all around the globe.

Of course Toyota kept developing the model and soon enough a 1.8-litre and even a 2.0-litre engine were available too. A 5-speed transmission also became standard or you could opt for a 3-speed automatic if you were so inclined. On the home market and a few other choice countries, you could even splash out on a sporting twincam Carina with Bosch fuel injection as standard. If you were really brash, you could even have it in a pillarless coupé body from 1978 onwards.

But let’s not lose focus here. Today, it’s not about sporty coupés or even about practical saloons and estates. It’s all about the two-door three-box saloon. It’s about how they’ve gone missing from current day automotive production. But more than anything, it’s about how we all ought to purchase one so we can celebrate what they gave us and fly their banner high at upcoming classic car events be that in Europe, the US, Asia or anywhere else in the world.

And if it just so happens that your two-door saloon needs to be a second generation Carina, then trust you me when I say we might well have found the very best there is! This 1979 Toyota Carina looks to be thoroughly original and unmolested to a degree which is only very rarely seen on such ordinary family cars of the seventies. Judging by the pictures, it’s spotless. Oh, and it gets even better as it’s a perfect shade of dark brown.

The car is for sale by what appears to be a private owner up in the very north of Sweden. If the Carina has indeed lived its entire life up there, that explains perfectly its amazing condition. In fact, by some bizarre coincidence, about six years ago I bought a classic car from Luleå in Sweden where this Carina is also for sale. The trick is, that while it obviously gets seriously cold up there, it’s also a very dry climate. Furthermore, they don’t use salt on the roads that far north, so the 47 year old classic which I bought was indeed remarkably rustfree and it would appear that this applies to the Carina as well.

However, the description in the advert is very short and to the point, simply stating that this is a very well-kept car with only 6,478 Swedish miles on the clock – that equates to 64,780 km or if you want it in Imperial miles that’ll be approximately 40,000 miles. The vendor then explains that there’s only a single owner before him and that the car has the Swedish equivalent of a MOT with no advisories. Here are some pictures of the Carina in all its splendour which we have borrowed from the advert:

It’s amusing to think that this car which was built to be not particularly more than average and most certainly as common as Toyota could possibly achieve, now represents something extremely rare and even quite an individual choice in terms of classic cars. But how much will it cost you to stand out at the next classic car event? Well, the vendor has just reduced the price from S.Kr. 49,000 to 45,000, which currently equates to Euro 4,200 or £ 3,800. And did I mention that the Carina is brown…?
Here you have the link to the Swedish advert: 1979 Toyota Carina


With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to

7 Responses

  1. Banpei

    I’m really happy to the Toyota Carina getting some love here, a love that I share with, especially, the third generation model. Considering myself a Carina-ophile/Carina-otaku (or whatever you would call it) I can say the second generation was the most underappreciated generation: the first was loved for the quirky looks, the third for being the last RWD Carina (and completing Paris-Dakar twice). The second generation is the one that gave us IRS (only on the badge engineered Celica Camry), fuel injection and the sporty image!

  2. Claus Ebberfeld

    Ohh. Ohh, ooh. THAT much loveliness just there for the taking. And in brown. Several tones of it inside and out. Perfection that would make any owner proud at the next classic car show.

    And I agree with the author that Luleå is probably how it survived. However it is also the reason that I don’t set off immediately as picking it up would take too many days out of my calender.

  3. Claus Ebberfeld

    I did however, @banpei, wonder whether the car has been repainted as the colour under the bonnet as it is of different tone of brown metallic – or whether this was factory specification?

  4. Anders Bilidt

    @Claus, the difference in colour between body and engine bay is merely because Toyota saved a bit of cash by not painting the engine bay with metallic paint even if the body was. So it’s entirely original and correct as is here.

    @Banpei, I share with you entirely a deep appreciation for the RWD Toyota’s of the 60s, 70s and early 80s. I used to own a very rare JDM ’77 Toyota Trueno Sprinter 1600GT with a 2T-GEU twincam, 5-speed manual, factory LSD and obviously RWD. Loved that car to bits and truly regret selling it. Granted, a stock second generation Carina like this one can hardly match my old Trueno, but I still feel I’d be getting just a little bit back with this sat in my garage. And what it might lack in performance it immediately regains by being brown… :-)

  5. Claus Ebberfeld

    Fab car your old Trueno, @anders – but you’re right, brown beats white hands down! And now you’ve explained about the colour differences it sounds even better: It seems so unlikely that it could be original paint. But IF it was…wow.

    I recall your trip down from about the same longitudes of Sweden in the BMW 1600. And wonder whether I could do the same in this Carina.

    I shouldn’t, I really shouldn’t…But I’d love to!

  6. Anders Bilidt

    @Claus, I did indeed drive my then newly purchased ’66 BMW 1600 from Luleå and all the way to Copenhagen. In fact, documenting our roadtrip along backroads was the first articles I had published here on ViaRETRO back in 2013. It was a truly fabulous trip and I’m sure it would be every bit the adventure in a perfectly preserved, brown ’79 Toyota Carina. To be honest I think you should do it Claus – if for no other reason, simply to prevent me from getting tempted into repeating the trip, as I too would love to have this Carina in my garage… ;-)


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