1980 Toyota Corolla Wagon 1.8 pushrod from North America


Overall, it's a bit slow, and a bit small, but it's bulletproof and has surprising amounts of style


Head gasket wept (replaced).

Stock carb was rubbish (vacuum lines everywhere) (replaced).

Steering was very loose (pitman arm and idler arm) (replaced).

Rear hatch supports were bad (replaced).

Heater core line ruptured (replaced along with other hoses).

Brakes needed rebuild (rebuilt).

Driver's seat badly torn (replaced with junkyard finds).

Alternator went bad (replaced).

Various bulbs of all sorts (replaced).

Minor rust near hatch (on the list).

Transmission was leaking (rebuilt).

Rear diff was leaking (seal replaced).

Exhaust literally fell off in a parking lot (cat to muffler) (replaced).

A/C has stopped working (on the list).

General Comments:

I bought this car from an old man who was the first owner, and had driven it to the brink of death (both his and the cars by the look of it). Pretty much everything on the car was original, right down to the bulbs, which is miraculous when you consider it really. That said, all of the original (34 y/o) electronics and seals were not quite up to the task of daily driving, which is my use for this car. I love this thing to death though; it's simple and rugged. Pretty much everything I've done to it, short of major engine work, has been a piece of cake. Great car to learn how to mechanic on! I get looks and compliments everywhere I go, and people constantly ask if I'm selling it.

Since owning the car, I've replaced or rebuilt pretty much everything listed above (as indicated), rebuilt the motor with a high compression head and a Weber DCOE carburetor, and made many other mods. Thing is, I'm a 21 year old college student living on my own, so it goes to show how easy these things are to work on! Get yourself a basic tool kit (metric sockets, screw drivers, and pliers) and you can fix like 90% of the things on this car.

Also, from behind the wheel, what it lacks in pure get-up-and-go power, it more than makes up for in visibility and compact size, making it a great commuter in urban spaces. Even with manual steering, I have no trouble parallel parking.

If you're ever thinking about getting an old Corolla, or just want to know more about them, be sure to check out 3tcgarage.com, it's chock-full of useful info about these old Toyotas.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st April, 2014

21st Apr 2014, 09:37

Yes, it's true -- if this car had any amount of style, it would be surprising.

21st Apr 2014, 12:56

Nice... that'll EASILY go another couple hundred thousand miles, especially with all the work you've done. Those are the cars Toyota built their reputation on; it's a shame they've gone downhill somewhat (quality-wise) these last few years.

1980 Toyota Corolla Station Wagon 1.8 from North America


Most reliable cars built


The brake calipers have gone bad after sitting in a barn for four years.

The muffler has fallen off from rust.

A lifter clicks when the car runs.

Body rust is taking over the driver door.

General Comments:

The car is a 1980 Toyota Corolla 1.8 station wagon with a 3t-c engine. We have had this car for 12 years, and it's the longest car we have owned, and it has proven it is one of the most reliable car made.

When we bought it we were living in Idaho, and every weekend we would drive it out to a lake and go fishing. Eventually we went fishing so much with it that we started calling it Fishy.

It sat in a barn due to caliper problems, but once that was fixed, it was back on the road.

Today Fishy is still running fine, and proving that 26 years haven't dulled its reliability.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th July, 2007

10th Oct 2009, 14:47

I have a 1980 Toyota Corolla station wagon, but mine is a 5 speed with A/C. It is the most reliable car I have ever seen. 29 years old and yet I pass new Mustangs and other sport cars that have V-8's I them with all stock and original parts and I get 40 miles to the gallon while doing it too. My grandfather bought it for $400 and restored its body and gave it to me. I am 18 and have heard many people say that it was one of their best cars and wished they had kept theirs. In fact one man said he tried to blow his up for 12 years and couldn't destroy it. I drive mine 100 miles a day back and forth from work. People who are not familiar with the car ask me why I drive it and I ask them, " does your car get 40 miles to the gallon?", and if they do I ask them who much did they pay for it and how long do they think it will last. That is all I have to say.

11th Oct 2009, 02:59

Are these 'Mustangs and other sport cars' that you are passing parked? Because there is no way any eighties Corolla will out-accelerate such a car.

I own an '82 Corolla very similar to yours - admittedly mine has the 1.3 liter engine (version sold here in Thailand), but even with the slightly larger motor offered in America it is a very slow car. A wonderful car, but a slow one.