1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe

Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe

Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. Our last DOTS Toyota was all the way back in January.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe
Advertisement

Toyota's marketers apparently got a little over-infatuated with the name of their most successful car during the early-to-mid 1980s, and so North Americans had a bewildering array of vehicles with Corolla nameplates. In this case, we've got a front-wheel-drive Tercel with Corolla badging, which was sold side-by-side with rear-wheel-drive E70 Corollas in the Toyota showrooms. Bigger and more expensive than the Starlet, but still cheaper and more economical than its big Corolla brother, the Corolla Tercel sold pretty well.

Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe

I found this car down on the beach, not far from the surfer '59 VW Transporter and the '73 Volvo 1800ES. Since this is the Bay and the "surf" is about 6" at its most raging, there's no danger of salt-spray corrosion.


Advertisement
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel Coupe

First 400 DOTS VehiclesDOTS FAQ

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I considered buying one of these in 1980, so I went to the Toyota dealer and asked to test drive one with a manual. The salesman told me they didn't have any manuals in stock but they could order one; would I like to test drive the automatic? I said OK and off we went. Between the slushbox and running the AC (it's Florida, gotta have AC) that damn thing was so pokey it couldn't get out of its own way.

So I ended up buying a red fastback E70 Corolla with a manual, which wasn't exactly high-performance either but which made up for it in part by being pretty cheap, surprisingly capacious (open the hatch and fold down the rear seat and you could carry pickup truck loads), and unbelievably reliable despite 240,000 miles of horrible abuse.

Anyway, a couple years after I bought it a friend showed up with an '80 Tercel with a manual. I took it out for a drive and I was amazed. It was a whole lot faster than the one I had tested, and you could fling it through corners with the same kind of crazy FWD moves I learned in my SAAB Monte Carlo. Bring the lead foot, keep the revs up, and it was actually a fun ride. I wished then that I had test driven a Tercel with a manual back in 1980.