1979 Toyota Corolla KE55 CS 1.3 petrol from Australia and New Zealand
Nimble, cheap, attractive, reliable commuter
Nothing has gone wrong yet.
Has bad rust.
Electrical problem: lights drop out and high beam indicator light comes on and sometimes has trouble starting if left for a week (battery goes dead).
Uses a lot of petrol (not normal for this model).
I bought this car as a little run-about to get to school every day for $200 of my sister's-friend's older sister. So far it has been OK, but with a few minor gripes. The previous owner had not looked after it. When I got it, my father and I did a major overhaul on the entire car. The air filter, along with the oil, was BLACK!. We did all the things you do on old cars: oil change, timing, points, tappet clearance, you name it, but I won't waste your time there. All of the above-mentioned maintenance operations are simple to carry out, and I would strongly recommend a Gregory's workshop manual (you could probably find one on EBay).
The standard rims look shocking, they are the first thing to replace when you get it. They were about 3-inch cheese-cutters, and made the vehicle a little hard to handle with the absence of power-steering. The new tyres are about 7-inches wide, and surprisingly made the car feel lighter to steering and more nimble, allowing you to take corners fast due to the centre of gravity of the car. The car has had a rough life, it has huge dings all down the doors, rust everywhere and a very dull paintjob. I think I've spent a total of around 3 days getting the paint right. One day, I endeavour to get the rust fixed but I don't think it would be worth it, you can pick these up in perfect condition, with new motors for 3-4 grand.
Now to performance:
This car is seriously quick! It can accelerate off the mark with breakneck speed. First gear has a very high ratio, you have to shift at around 10km/h to avoid revving the £$%^ out of your engine. However, it is not great for long distances; it feels like it is doing about 5-6 thousand revs at 90km/h, so I only do 75km/h down the Charlestown bypass road in Newcastle. For this reason alone I gave it a 9/10, otherwise it would definitely be a 10/10. It performs its best sitting on 60km/h, but I think it was designed as a stop/start city car. It will pull away going up a fairly steep hill at 60km/h. This car is really good if you are a quick gear-changer, because the motor likes to rev a bit much for me. I have never red-lined it, because it is an old 4k and I'll probably blow it up :). However, in saying that, the old 4k engines are extremely robust, but this example probably would make it past 150,000km.
Quick tip: don't go loading all of your friends in the back, it doesn't really like the extra weight. The cabin is very, very small. It has ample legroom but if you're 6 foot 4' like me, you have to almost fully recline the seat to avoid banging your head on the roof. This is not a huge problem, you can easily reach the steering wheel, but if you're heavy too you might snap the seat adjuster. 5/10 for big people.
The car uses a ton of petrol. My Father and I only just found the problem after using around 50-litres to travel 300 kilometres. That's just not right for this size car. The idle-mix screw had been adjusted incorrectly and the car would actually flood at 3000 revs if you put your foot down; the petrol was gushing in. 5/10 for running costs because I don't know what the normal running costs are like.
As previously stated, the car has a good amount of rust surfacing. The doors don't quite line up due to abuse by the previous owner, there is no reason to destroy a good car, If you look after it, it'll look after you, simple as that. The rubber seals have deteriorated, and replacement rubber for the entire vehicle can cost in excess of $500.
This reviewer has given the car average results because I don't want to put down a good car, but my example isn't what many others may experience. This car is perfect for an inexperienced P-plater like me or a regular commuter, however, it would look fantastic done-up with good paint and good racing rims for a car enthusiast.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 21st September, 2008