Here’s a little JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) gem to start the new year out right. This is a 1967 Toyota Publica Deluxe and it can be found on eBay with six days of bidding left. The current bid price is just under $4,000 but the reserve isn’t met. This Publica is located in Saint Simons Island, Georgia, on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, hence the tropical setting.
Kicking 2017 off with a bang, there are great photos and plenty of them in this listing! The Publica was Toyota’s people car, or the company’s “national car concept” vehicle, meant to satisfy the masses and it was the smallest car made by Toyota at the time. They were made from 1961 to 1978 and came in several body styles, but all of them had two doors: a two-door sedan and convertible, a station wagon/van, and my personal favorite, a pickup.
This car was recently imported to the US and it has a current Georgia registration so hopefully it’s ready to go in your state. The UP20 Publicas were second-generation cars and they’re by far the ones most seen in the US, where they were never officially imported. The seller doesn’t mention rust or rust repair at all, but they say that the “paint was clayed, buffed, polished and sealed once the car was delivered stateside, and shows a remarkable luster from stem to stern. There’s a fair amount of chrome trim affixed to the exterior, and everything from the window trim down to the headlight buckets, bumpers and sill guards looks great, with no pitting, dulling, or other damage present.”
The interior looks fantastic, and although the red carpet may be a replacement from black carpet (although there is no mention of that), I have seen it in these cars before. The seats look perfect with nary a rip or tear in sight. The back seats look even nicer, as they often do. On a car this nice, I expect the 77,680 km (48,268 miles) to be correct. Yes, this is a right-hand drive car, so you’ll have to get used to shifting the column 4-speed manual with your left hand. Here’s a YouTube video showing someone driving a UP20 Publica. The Deluxe Publica came with a heater and AM radio, and the heater works great but the AM radio is set up for Japanese frequencies so it isn’t working.
Toyota sold 42,197 UP20 Publicas in 1967 and they all had their 2U, 790 CC, two-cylinder, air-cooled engine. This particular one has around 36 hp, although the convertible and super versions had twin-carbs and a neck-snapping 45 hp! What’s a bit unusual on this car is all of the “anti-rust coating” that the previous owner applied to the underside, wheel wells, and even on part of the engine. That always worries me a bit to see that, like someone is trying to either to hide something or, hopefully in the case here, just to protect and prevent the car from chips and future rust. It does look pretty solid underneath and the exterior, interior, and engine look great so hopefully it isn’t an issue and will only help to protect the car for years to come. I love these unusual Japanese market cars that were never officially imported to the US. Have you ever seen a Toyota Publica?