1968 Toyota Corona Unorthadox Hot Rod- Heretic – Hot Rod Magazine

15 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 1968 Toyota Corona Unorthadox Hot Rod- Heretic – Hot Rod Magazine

Can Hot Rod’s Faithful Congregation Accept A Toyota As One Of Its Own?

It’s tough maintaining orthodoxy and doctrinal purity in the High Church of Hot Rodding. Just when it seems that some major tenet of the theology has been perfected and is infallible, someone comes along with a car that is undeniably better because of its apostate violation of exactly that tenet. But if there’s one bedrock belief upon which this religion has been built it’s this: Real hot rods don’t start out as Toyotas.

Apparently Mitch Allread wasn’t in the pews when that particular sermon was preached. And he happened to own a ’68 Toyota Corona two-door coupe that he was using as his daily driver when, one day, he decided he wanted something like a fenderless ’32 Ford that was something completely unlike a ’32 Ford with power from a 4.0L, DOHC, 32-valve Lexus V-8. And, for better or worse, he had the talent to make it happen.

Toyota sold a bunch of Coronas during the ’60s and ’70s as the company was establishing itself in America. About as boring a car as has ever been built by any manufacturer, the Corona was a unibody rear-driver with a 1.9L four up front sending a pokey 90 hp back through a four-speed manual or ToyoGlide automatic to a solid rear axle sitting on leaf springs. As common as dust in Southern California during their era, Coronas are less often seen than Lamborghinis now.

Allread’s job is welding together race car and hot rod pieces. Components from his Newhall Welding shop, in Newhall, California, often ship out to North Carolina for installation into NASCAR Nextel Cup machines, and he’s built complete cars that compete in various West Coast circle track series, but the Corona is the first street-bound car he’s built for himself.

Knowing that the Corona’s flimsy structure couldn’t handle the torque of the Lexus V-8, he started by welding up a tubular steel space frame with a 106-inch wheelbase (that’s 10.7 inches longer than the stock Corona’s). The front suspension consists of upper and lower unequal-length A-arms on either side that he fabricated, plus Carrera shocks inside Afco coil springs.

In back there’s a Speedway Engineering quick-change solid axle located by three links and a Watts linkage dampered, again, by Carrera shocks and Afco coilover springs. RGP manual rack-and-pinion steering handles that chore, while the braking system consists of Wilwood 1231/416-inch cross-drilled rotors at each corner clamped by six-piston calipers in front and four-piston calipers in the back.

The engine was scavenged from a wrecked ’92 Lexus SC400 and installs in Allread’s concoction essentially unmodified. Naturally, except for the original exhaust manifolds, Allread had to build the entire exhaust system himself. It funnels the waste gases down the center of the car, through an X-pipe to two mufflers, and out each side of the car.

The result is a very un-Lexus-like sound; a loud tenor that sounds something like two old Kawasaki KZ1000s screaming along just behind each of the driver’s ears. That’s not a bad sound at all, actually. The same SC400 donated its four-speed automatic transmission and the shifter that controls it.

Lexus drivetrains are justly famed for their smoothness and quiet, but bolt in any engine and transmission using solid motor mounts and its inherent vibration is undeniable. Rated at 250 hp when it was bolted into that Lexus coupe, the Lexus V-8 probably isn’t making much more than 260 in Allread’s, but it sounds and pounds like an animal.

Powder Blue and Orange aren’t a natural color combination, but if it was good enough for Le Mans-winning Ford GT40s and Porsche 917s, it’s good enough for a ’68 Corona. Note the Gulf stickers as a nod to those cars.

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