The Carina and Celica models were developed together, in the same way as the Ford Cortina mirrored the engineering and platform sharing with the sportier Capri. The established Corona models, had grown in size and was being pushed further upmarket, so a brief for a series of smaller but sporting models were proposed. It was also the first generation of cars to use the new OHV T-Series of engines. In some markets, the Carina was offered with the same tuned engines as the Celica, which allowed the public to choose the practicality of a saloon body over the rakish good looks of the Celica. Toyota launched both cars into the UK in 1971.
The Carina was only ever sold in the UK as a 4 door saloon with the 1588cc engine, a detuned version of the same engine as used in the original Celica. The car was briefly imported into the states as a 2 door saloon, which was also made it to some European markets. JDM markets also were offered a 5 door estate option. As the normal policy of Japanese cars, the model received minor visual updates on a regular basis, usually limited to grill changes and dashboard changes, but the car also underwent a series minor evolutions while keeping the same body basic shape over 7 years. Early models would be known as TA10, with TA12 replacing it in 1973, the TA14 followed in 1976. Wings, bonnets, grills, dashboards and bumpers were slightly different for each model, but all shared the same bodyshell.
The model was replaced in early 1978 by a mechanically similar model, with a more angular styling, which also featured an estate model in the UK for the first time. Like many of the Japanese car manufacturers, time was catching up with many Japanese designs, while they were traditionally dependable cars, the drive train set up, susepnsion damping and nuetral handling was become predictable and the press often asked more in a car, tending to favour new FWD European cars with handling abilities and driving character. The new generation of Celica was still remarkably similar underneath, but the models were now starting to divirge into seperate paths. Sales remained fairly constant thoughout the new models life despite the indifferent press opinions, and again was replaced with a restyled squared off model at the start of 1980 similar in style to the larger Cressida and Crown models. As well as an estate model, for the last few months of the models availability a 1770cc engine was also offered. While this model shared many components to the previous generation, the car was badged as the Celica Camry in its home market.
Another revision and restyle occured in early 1982, all models of which were fitted with 5 speed gearboxes. This generation of Carina sold fairly slowly, as it became clear its outdated drive train was losing ground to new FWD designs, yet Toyota stuck to RWD on the carina until 1985. The change revitalised the Carina range, and sales figures for the new T150 model, known as the Carina II in Europe improved considerably. The Carina and Corona name’s had long crossed over in Japan, so subsequent UK Carinas were essentially rebadged Coronas.
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