At $2,500, Could This 1988 Toyota Corolla Be a Sweet Sixteen?

Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Could This 1988 Toyota Corolla Be a Sweet Sixteen?
Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Multivalve engines are as common as ramen these days. That however, wasn’t the case when today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Corolla FX16 was introduced. Let’s see if this old school hot hatch’s price can still bring the heat.

There was much debate surrounding Friday’s 2006 Hummer H3 as to whether it was just a poor alternative to the plethora of Trailblazers, Colorados and Tahoes that are out there. Even its stripper pastiche and rare five speed stick couldn’t overcome its appreciably high mileage and general out of fashion Hummer-ness. In the end, the truck’s $6,500 price was seen by most as about $1,500 too high, dropping the Hummer in a narrow 52 percent Crack Pipe loss.

That was five losses in a row last week, which mush be some sort of record. Perhaps today’s 1988 Toyota Corolla FX16 GTS will turn the tide? Or maybe it won’t. What am I, Nostradamus?


The FX16 certainly turned a corner for Toyota. Up until the early ‘80s, all Corolla models had been RWD, and the transition to FWD for the bread and butter car line took the better part of the decade. That may seem to have been a strange and inefficient process but remember that at the time the Corolla and sister Sprinter lines had about eleven-gajillion models between them. Toyota was also hedging their bets by keeping around some RWD models for a while just in case the whole FWD thing proved to be a fad.

Spoiler alert—it didn’t. And while Toyota was hemming and hawing over which end of the Corolla would be best at putting the ponies to the pavement, Volkswagen was owning the small sporty car crown with the unapologetically FWD Golf GTI.

Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Could This 1988 Toyota Corolla Be a Sweet Sixteen?

The FX16 GTS was Toyota’s GTI. The car married the Corolla’s then new FWD E80 platform with Toyota’s hot DOHC 4A-GE motor and an available five-speed transaxle, and wrapped in a fuss-free three-door hatch body. A fuel injected 1.6-litre multivalve four may not be all that and a bag of chips in today’s new car market, but it was the shit back in ’85 when the FX16 debuted. Toyota even managed to one-up VW with the car, beating the 16-valve GTI to market here in the U.S. by a full year.


This drivetrain, by the way would also serve as the motivational force for the first MR2 so you get that cool connection along with the rest of your FX16 lore.

With just 115 horsepower on tap, the FX16 certainly isn’t going to perform like a modern hot hatch, but it should still look pretty good in an ‘I Heart the ‘80s’ kind of way.

Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Could This 1988 Toyota Corolla Be a Sweet Sixteen?

This one looks a bit worn, with black paint outside that’s obviously seen better days. Under that, the body does appear straight and rust-free. Luckily, all the unique trim—rocker extensions, wheel arches, decals—all seem to be intact.


Also in the plus column, the bumper caps are painted rather than the basic rubber of the lesser FWD Corollas Those things seem to do nothing but create annoying black smears on your pant legs if you brush against them. You should be able to get up close and personal with this FX16 without fear of chafing your chinos.

Era-correct Enkei alloys underpin but the seller says that the factory wheels—which should be cool Cuisinart blades—come along with the sale. A slew of other parts comes with the car as well, so you might want to look into renting a Uhaul should you be jonesing on the car.


Not included is a new windscreen, which the ad notes is cracked. That’s a part that may be a bit hard to source depending on where you live. The car comes with a moonroof for all your mooning pleasure and all the rest of the glass looks perfectly serviceable as well.

The interior looks pretty darn good, and who wouldn’t want to plant a buttock or two in those awesome velour-clad seats? Those have grab handles on the sides of the backrests for… well, grabbing. The steering wheel appears a bit grungy, and there seems to be some discoloration to the door latch levers. Those too might be hard to replace too.

Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Could This 1988 Toyota Corolla Be a Sweet Sixteen?

The title is clean and perhaps most amazingly, the car registers over 292,000 miles on the odo. Yes, that’s half past dead for most cars, and maybe ten cars deep for many old Fiats. This is an ‘80s Toyota however, and those things were built to last. It’s almost like Toyota never wanted you to buy another car again once you’d gotten on the Corolla train.


That’s not the case these days, but for just $2,500 you can still see what that experience was like. That’s the asking, and before you castigate me by pointing out that it says $2,600 in the ad title, know that I read all the way to the end where it’s listed at $100 less, so that’s what we’re going with.

Do you think that’s low enough? Could this Corolla hot hatch really be worth that $2,500 asking as it sits, spare parts and all? Or, does that price sour the sweet deal?


You decide!


Portland, OR Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup.

Help me out with NPOCP. Hit me up at and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.

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Getting older, having a kid, and spending the last half-decade or so in a pickup has really changed my take on all of these kinds of vehicles. Ten years ago, even though the mileage is stupid and I don’t particularly like the car, I’d have had no problem driving something like this because it’s interesting and kinda quirky. It’s cheap and whatever, it’s a Toyota, even with almost 300K, it’ll probably be more headache-free than most cars.

But now, honestly... I look at any car from this era with suspicion... or shit, any small car, period. I’m used to being surrounded by a couple of tons of steel, multiple airbags, cameras, safety bullshit, etc. I’m used to being higher than most people on the road. I never wanted to be this guy! I always drove small, fun-to-drive, low-to-the-ground coupes and sedans, safety be damned. I hated the people who drove giant trucks and SUVs just for safety. (Now, I do use my truck to haul crap, tow my boat, and go camping and off-roading, but if I’m being honest, 90% of the time it’s just taking me to the store or taking my son to daycare.)

But fuck me, man. Now I want something practical, reliable, and big. Now I want to know if my vehicle is assaulted by one of America’s millions of incompetent, idiot drivers, my wife, my son and I have the best chance of coming out of the other side. And that’s the single biggest consideration I have.

I voted a hypothetical NP on this for nostalgia’s sake, but I wouldn’t drive this thing.