Strike Me Down Now Before The Madness Makes Me Buy This Terrible Toyota Corolla

Photo: Craigslist

I can feel the reverberations getting stronger, pulling my hands closer to the keys. Corolla. Model year 1974 to 1985. Sort by: newest. In a flash I am here, 2,800 miles and $2,800 dollars away from this rusty Toyota Corolla SR-5 hardtop. I know must not buy it. Simultaneously: I want nothing more than to buy it.


This is the generation of Corolla right before the famous AE86. That was the last rear-drive Corolla, which ran through the mid-1980s. This one was around from the tail end of the ‘70s into the early ‘80s. Some of the stuff from the later cars fits on the earlier cars, which is neat, because nobody thinks much of these earlier ‘Rollas since they weren’t in Initial D. That’s fine. I didn’t grow up on Initial D. I am not wildly nostalgic about it. You all can have your more expensive later cars, and I can live with these earlier ones.

The only problem with this is that Corollas like this TE72 are older and usually more worn out. Look at the rust on this car. It’s in LA! There should be no rust. And yet.

And look at the interior! It’s not smart to buy a car with jumper cables in the for-sale photos. I’m going to say this again so I believe it: It’s not smart to buy a car with jumper cables in the for-sale photos.


The for-sale listing is not greatly promising, advertising 231,000 miles on the odometer and listing cut springs as part of the ‘pros.’ The cons are not great either:

Cons: Truck has Rust (2 holes), Turn signals/Hazard lights don’t work, will need a battery, missing passenger corner light and cracked passenger headlight trim, I don’t have Keys for it (CAR IS UNDER MY NAME WITH PINKSLIP IN HAND.) 


Oh, cool. Body problems and electrical problems. My fav!

Another thing that stands out is that the AE86 got some remarkably good engines stock. The AE86 got the twin-cam 4A-GE, good for decently over 100 horsepower with lots of different higher-power versions being an easy swap. The TE72 here comes with a carbureted, pushrod, eight-valve 3TC, which made 75 horsepower stock and probably hasn’t made that kind of power since Bush Sr. was in power. Swapping to a later engine (or to a Nissan SR20 as a number of drifters do) isn’t impossible, but also it’s a hassle.


But look at it. This is the rare hardtop version, still super undervalued for such a neat design of a very future-forward, anti-retro era. It’s only a matter of time before you’ll never be able to find one of these cars in daily driver shape and that all of these things will either be restored on in junkyards with no in between.

The only question is how long do I have before that time comes? Will I regret never buying this rough car when I had the chance, or will I wish I’d have waited to buy a better example and not wasted my money here?


I do not know, but the tremors in my hands are growing stronger. The madness is gaining volume. I near Corolla-dom, and I’m afraid.

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About the author

Raphael Orlove

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.