1985 Toyota Corolla

On a recent hazy evening in Salt Lake City, a golden era hatchback sits and waits to serve its master.


The fifth generation Corolla was introduced in 1983, and was the first front-drive version of the car.  Enthusiasts, especially the drifting set, have mourned the loss of one of the stalwarts of the rear-drive compact car class ever since.

Running until 1988, this generation was also the basis of a joint venture with General Motors, which sold versions in the United States and Australia as the Chevrolet Nova and the Holden Nova, respectively.  It was the Chevy version that my mom owned (and I wrecked) that introduced me to the NUMMI Nova/Prizm family.

Unfortunately, because of that, I know of the Corolla family’s significant shortcomings in the performance department.  The later versions were powered by a carbureted 1.6 liter four that produced 74 thundering horses.  While the car was very lightweight as was typical before airbags, infotainment systems and seat massagers, acceleration was, well – deliberate.

That deliberate nature suited my mom just fine – she enjoyed smelling the roses more than burning rubber.  It also helped the car return impressive gas mileage – with the 5 speed manual, the window sticker showed 29 city/37 highway mpg.  Interestingly, that also highlights the impressive improvements in efficiency since the late 80s – today’s Ford Focus 5 door returns 31/38 with a 6 speed auto while hauling around several hundred pounds more gadgets and safety gear, and nearly twice the power.


As you can see, I’ve been a little creative with the Photoshop again.  I’m hoping to get enough good shots together for a calendar to raise a little money to run the site on it’s own domain name.  More information on that soon!

Credit to my wife, who spotted this car while we were out and about!

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6 responses to “1985 Toyota Corolla”

  1. Michael says :

    I would have to call it function over form. A very functional car but not particularly attractive.

    • uteking says :

      Whaaaa? Look at it – it’s dead sexy!

      But seriously, there is one thing about the styling of that car that I wish would come back – the low beltline. Check how big those side windows are – you can at least see out of it, instead of the gunslits on today’s cars.

  2. Matt Anderson says :

    I used to have one of these! Best car I’ve ever owned. I ended up putting a 4AGE in mine but when I pulled the cylinder head off of the old motor, there was still crosshatching on the block after 275k miles. Unreal. You won’t find that kind of oldskool Toyota quality and simplicity any more, I’m afraid.

    • uteking says :

      I absolutely think that simplicity is a long lost quality of cars – with all of the government-mandated “features” required nowadays, and the fact that people simply cannot live without power windows. Sad really. I saw a 1996 Geo Prizm on ebay the other day that had crank windows, no tach and a 5 speed manual with only 40k on it. It was honestly, a very appealing car to me.

      Thanks for stopping by – I love the beaterblog – one of my new regular stops!

  3. Lee John says :

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