Project Car Hell, Screamin' Corolla Edition: AE86 or FX16? There was some grumbling over the choices in our last Choose Your Eternity challenge (which was won by the '77 Levis Edition AMC Hornet AMX by a healthy margin), ostensibly because they were too easy… but we know the real reason: being reminded of the Malaise Era brings up the uncomfortable parallels between the hard economic times then and those now . Of course, there are differences; sure, the current war is more expensive- in dollar terms- than was Vietnam, but inflation isn't the raging beast it was back then (though the bill for our 15-year debt binge looks to be just as painful as 20% inflation was). What we need is a flashback to Morning In America ! The 80s, when the Evil Empire was crumbling and Toyota still built cars that didn't hit you like a triple Valium with cough syrup chaser; yes, it's Corolla Time!

As we all know, the problem with Japanese PCH cars is that parts are too easy to find, the build quality is too high, and Japanese engineers- particularly those working for Nissan, Honda, and Toyota- tend to design them to be easy to work on. Where's the fun there? Send those guys to Europe for a crash course in complexity, then to Detroit for some lessons in bean-counter-driven corner-cutting! But it's still possible to get yourself an inexpensive Japanese project that scores pretty high on the Cool-O-Meter yet will drive you absolutely mad- you just need to find something fashionably fast-and-furious that's had years of dodgy mods and rod-bending abuse… like, say, this 1984 Toyota Corolla SR5 (go here if the ad disappears), which could be yours for an offer probably well below the $1,200 asking. I know what you're saying: why get the 8-valve SR5 when you could have a GT-S with the righteous 4AGE? Hey, this one "needs a piston ring," which is Craigslist-speak for "a terrible noise happens every time I try to start it," so you'll have the opportunity to build your own engine with all the valves and boost a suitcase full of money can buy! And hey, it already comes with the all-important "carbon fiber eyelids" (though you're on your own for the equally important carbon fiber shift knob).
Watch the video above (shot from the Schumacher Taxi Service Corolla ) and then try to muster up the usual "wrong-wheel-drive" quips! What you need is a Hell Project that, if when finished, will be a squirming, torque-steering, axle-snapping beast that will require luck as well as skill to keep under any semblance of control! Yes, we mean the AE82 CorollaGT-S, which came with plenty of howling 4A power to go with its weird sketched-by-an-8-year-old 80s-hatchback profile. They're not as easy to find as they once were, but we've spotted this '87 Corolla FX16 GT-S (go here if the ad disappears) with the same asking price as the AE86: $1,200. It has a 20-valve silvertop engine and some quasi-trick parts, but the seller states that the "motor has a blown head gasket which is not much to fix." Now, we often find that "blown head gasket" is Craigslist-ese for "smoke and/or chunks of metal pouring out the tailpipe and/or holes in the oilpan," but maybe that diagnosis is accurate- hey, stranger things have happened! Besides, the seller has a turbocharger "which we can probably work a deal on," so you can see what the logical next step would be.

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