1980 Toyota Corolla 1.8 1.8 from North America


Probably the best car money can buy


This was a crude well built little car. Absolutely simple to fix and used parts are abundant. If I had to buy new, everybody carried what I needed.

What have I done to the car...

Alternator ($35 used), starter ($35 used), water pump ($59 new), brakes ($30 new front, $24 new back), engine fuse block ($10 used), rear end ($60 used), muffler ($60 new), gages ($10 used), battery ($160 new with 1000 cold cranking amps), fuel pump ($12 used), gaskets ($40 new), seats ($50 used), door handles ($5 used), rust, the paint came off ($17 a year), etc, etc, etc.

Now don't be mislead by what I've said, these are good cars! It was abused before I got it and I didn't do an ounce of maintenance to it unless it needed it. My theory, why soak money into a car with over a quarter of a million kilometers.

I only intended to keep the car from January to April as my other cars weren't as well suited for the intense cold and snow. My other cars were an Alfa Romeo and a Mustang GT Convertible.

But this Corolla, long after April, just kept going and going and going. Never changed the oil, just added, changed the plugs once. When it was minus 40 degrees Celsius outside with the wind blowing on it all night, I'd start the old girl up without having it plugged in and it would go. People just couldn't believe it would start.

I drove it from my home in Saskatchewan to Vancouver at least 20 times. My wife, our dogs and a full load of stuff. The back bumper would be only centimeters off the ground. I drove it though the Rockies with the accelerator pressed to the floor. When it overheated I'd pull over and have a smoke. Then I'd hop in and drive it all over again.

The car was given to me because my friend's wife hated it.

All the paint came off it. So I bought a tin of black rust paint and painted it once a year with a paint brush.

It was a hatchback and I could load nearly anything I wanted into it. And what wouldn't fit inside I tied to the roof.

General Comments:

This little Corolla was not temper-mental or moody. It always ran perfect and I didn't even take care of it. I also drove the heck out of it. There aren't enough words to say how good these cars are.

One time I was in a blizzard and the wind was blowing at 90 kilometers per hour, snow was falling and it was minus 38 Celsius. I was on the highway in rural Saskatchewan at 6:00am driving to work. It was absolutely pitch black outside. My winshield iced up and I had only a peep hole. Then, the snow blew such that I couldn't see the highway and before I knew it I hit the ditch. The car sunk in about 1.5 meters of snow. I couldn't even open the driver's door. So I pulled out my emergency winter survival kit, complete with smokes and a touch of Gin, made a phone call and waited the blizzard out. I was in the car for about 4 hours before somebody was able to get me. It ran like a top, it never even stalled. The next day I went back to get it. She started up, I pulled it out with a 4x4 and lifted the hood. All I could see was the imprint of the hood of a perfectly white layer of snow that completely plugged the engine bay. And the thing was running. Not only did it start, but it was running. Go figure???

Then another time, My wife and I hit a torrential downpour in Vancouver and I hit a flooded underpass. I was dodging vehicles that were stalled and gunning it so I'd have enough speed to coast through once the water stalled the engine. The water was higher than all four tires. The beggar never stalled. Go figure???

And if it was going to break down, it would never just conk. It would just run like an apple box with wheels and always get me to where I was going.

If I ever found one of these with low mileage in mint condition, I'd pay thousands for it. When you pay for quality, you only wince once.

They are cheap to run. Insurance is cheap, parts are cheap, and can be had anywhere.

These cars are boring, but sometimes in life, boring is a good thing. They certainly don't attract attention, that's for sure.

Let me list the complete mechanics tool list for repairs on one of these cars.

- a metric socket set

- a Philips screwdriver.

And with a basic understanding of gasoline engines, a guy could diagnose the problem in minutes.

The basic understanding...

- you need spark

- you need gas

- you need compression.

No high tech computer required for this one.

For a first car, these are unbeatable. But a guy should really own some other dubious vehicle before a Corolla, to fully appreciate how good these little cars are.

Corolla's have the bullet proof reliability of a 1977 Chev and the gas mileage of a 1970 VW Bug.

A guy doesn't get any fun, exhilaration or attention from the car itself, but if he owns one, he gets even better...

By having a pocket of full money and all the neat places the little Corolla will take you.

Here's a good one... when a guy finds a car, and he really thinks it's a good car, you know what he sometimes says?

"Yep, these cars are as good as Corollas"

That's because I think Corolla's are benchmarks in the automotive industry on how cars should be made.

You just can't go wrong with one of these. So what if they're blah - look at the money you'll save and the places you'll go.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th January, 2004

20th May 2004, 08:39

I am an original owner of a 1980 Corolla Liftback with a 2T engine 1600cc, 5 speed manual. The engine is an Asian edition. I have 219,000 kilometers of which 95% is harsh stop and go city driving. Of all my cars this one is the cheapest to maintain because practically "there is none". My engine is original and unopened including the carb. I changed my clutch lining only once. I take special care to change oil and filter every 5000 kms. My starter is original. I replaced my alternator only in 2003. I had the front shocks repaired, but the rears are original. I enjoy driving this Corolla not because of any super performance, but as the years go it becomes a rare sight of yesteryears on the road.

1980 Toyota Corolla Tercel 1.5 from North America


The cutest car I will ever own


The transmission was replaced at or about 120,000.

Carburetor just recently replaced.

Air conditioner rebuilt immediately upon purchase.

Radio shorted out after 6 months.

Speedometer broke after 1 month, but who cares.

General Comments:

Though lacking power steering, this car handles well and gets me in and out of tight situations with ease thanks to its diminutive size. It's great when there's only one tiny parking spot remaining in the parking garage.

It is pleasantly roomy on the inside, thanks to the front wheel drive. The vinyl seats, carpet and headliner are all as good as new and show no worse for wear.

I love the liftback; it holds a ton of stuff, and I've moved enough times to take advantage of it.

This car has the cutest back end I've ever seen on a car. It's rounded off, not the square, chopped-off version seen on later liftback models. It has a decidedly European feel to it, and it definitely grabs peoples' attention. I call her Matilda.

Unfortunately, this is not the speediest of cars, but she keeps me honest. At this stage of her life, I wouldn't take her on any long road trips.

I keep pouring money into her, because I can't stand the thought of selling her sending her to the junk yard.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th October, 2003

14th Aug 2004, 17:17

I Too have a 1980 Tercel, although mine is a sedan, not a liftback. Mine cars name is "Pearl". She has 138,000 ORIGINAL miles on her, and she looks as good as new. Paint is perfect. She needs a carb now, but other than that she is my baby. Unlike you, I would rather trust Pearl on any distance trip from coast to coast or to the corner store. She is my "Heartbeat" and all who know me knows about Pearl.

Thank you.