1981 Toyota Corolla Wagon 1.8 liter from North America


The Silver Bullet that would not die!



General Comments:

My first car. Bought it from my Mom with around 85,000 miles on it. Drove it very, very hard, took little care of it, and it never stopped running.

Sold it to my sister, and she put over 300,000 miles on it, and it never failed until one day the motor locked up.

If they still made this car, I would buy another one and treat it with respect, and never need another car again! For dependability, the 80's Toyotas knew no equal.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th February, 2012

1981 Toyota Corolla Wagon 1.8 liter from North America


The most dependable car ever made!


It was a masochist!

General Comments:

My first car, bought it from my mother (with around 100,000 miles on it) who bought it new. Drove it like an idiot everywhere I went. Never really took care of it. Would load it up with three guys, three gals and three surfboards, and peg the speedo 80 miles to the beach and back.

Crashed it into a lake, took it off roading, jumped it over RR tracks, would lock up the handbrake on wet parking lots and hold on while it spun around in circles, and tested the shocks every chance I got at the local parking spots. Just abused this car, and it would never die!

Sold it to my sister for $200.00, and she managed to get over 300,000 miles out of it after all of that.

Now that I'm all grown up, I wish I could have a brand new one, and therefore never have to buy another car for the rest of my reasonable, responsibly driving life!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th February, 2012

1981 Toyota Corolla DX 13b rotary 2l from Australia and New Zealand


One phat biach


The only thing that I have had to replace was a gearbox from doing too many burn outs.

General Comments:

This car is riding on 14 inch deep dish chrome's with a pearl custom paint job and air suspension with a 13b rotary motor and all the gears four 14 inch subs TV, and many more bits and peices.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 1st November, 2004

1981 Toyota Corolla SR-5 1.8L from North America


Sleeper that you won't forget losing to


My Corolla has been very reliable to me.

I let it sit for about 8 months and the timing was drastically off.

The Carburetor needed to be rebuilt at 145K miles.

Not enough stock horsepower to make it a performer.

General Comments:

Rear wheel drive... need I say more?

After replacing the cat. converter (my choice to do so) and the stock muffler with a 3 inch Glass Pack with a resonator tip the car took on a much meaner tone, gained 4 horsepower on the dino, and dropped a half second on 0-60 time.

I am 6' tall and the seats, dash and interior wrap around me and fit me like a glove.

Great fuel economy even when laying into the gas and occasionally smoking the 204 Dunlop's.

It's a great car for putting around and when it's time to get serious it is very easily tricked out. The car is light and quick on her feet, easily able to squash honda's with those big coffee can mufflers and even new small cars (Neon R/T, Civic, Escort, Cavalier).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th February, 2004

1981 Toyota Corolla DX 1.8 from North America


Very reliable car for patient drivers


Mostly routine items as car ages.

3 alternator replacements.

One replacement of the water pump.

Rebuild of carburettor (which I now suspect was unnecessary as it was probably the fuel pump that was the problem, and I replaced that).

3 new mufflers under my ownership.

The main issue is rust, which is a problem having first lived by the ocean and now in the north USA.

I have replaced the 2 front doors because of rust and regularly spend time with a sander and paint to try to keep the car body intact.

The rear bumper also has a tendency to rust. I own two of these vehicles and on both this has been a problem. In particular there are metal bands that hold on the rubber bumper cover, and when these rust through the plastic bumper cover drops down in front of the exhaust.

Some wear in the synchromesh. Enough to cause problems in shifting when the engine is cold in winter, but disappears when the engine warms up a bit (and yes, the manual transmission oil viscosity is per the manufacturer's recommendations).

On my other 1981 Corolla wagon the power valve diaphragm (?) needed replacing. Spark plug #1 was not firing properly and was dripping in oil.

General Comments:

I have two 1981 Corolla station wagons, so it's clear I like them. I'm not a mechanic, but cars this old are simple enough for me to be able to do simple repairs of the unscrew it, buy a new one, screw the new one on type.

I get 25 mpg city, 30 mpg highway in the manual transmission car which I drive in the winter. The automatic transmission car, which I drive in the summer, does about 25 city, 28 highway. I look at new Corollas and see that they don't officially rate at all that much better, so these engines last as long as you look after them.

These are rear wheel drive cars, with little weight on the rear wheels, so handling in snow can be a problem. I have cats so winter is the time to stock up on 200 lbs of cat litter and keep it in the back of the car.

In my 16 years of driving these cars I have only been truly stranded once, for 3 days waiting for parts, with a failed alternator 200 miles from home. I have had a few minor strandings with dead batteries, but otherwise these are very reliable. One of my cars still has some of the original belts!

1.8 L engine is not going to have you burn rubber starting at traffic lights. With this car you learn to be a calm, patient driver.

The only problem I am encountering now is finding replacement parts. Small parts, like distributor caps, spark plug wires, etc., can still be obtained through parts stores, though they often have to order them. Recently though, my car was in a small accident and I needed to get a parts for the rear hatch as well as a rear bumper. Toyota dealers told me the parts numbers were no longer accepted by their computers. I finally found some replacement parts at junkyards around the country through the Internet, but a number of them told me that they had sent the 1981 station wagons they had to the crushers.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th December, 2003

1981 Toyota Corolla Levin GT 1500 from Australia and New Zealand


Great looker besides the rust


Rust, rust, rust.

Dead battery.

Fuel Gauge read half full as empty.

General Comments:

Besides having to cut out all the rust, the mechanical side of the car just keeps on trucking. I brought the 3A-U version, apparently the 4A-G goes a lot harder and faster. Looks good for a '81, better than the newer shape.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th July, 2000

16th Mar 2001, 01:47

I strongly agree with you. I think the modern car designers are almost sick and do not know how to design a car. They just want to draw a circle and round shapes. I think the all the cars that were made in the 80s' and the first part of 90s' were the real cars. They looked so attractive and lively. Now a days, the newer cars seem to me just a tool for transportation.