Sunday, June 27, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1981 Toyota Corolla Liftback

My, my. A Corolla. You must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel to be featuring a Corolla, Jay...

Actually, at the time of this writing I have nearly 60 other vehicles in reserve and at least a dozen more if I were to feature cars with fewer than five pictures of them. Now, to those of us living in sunny California, where Toyota's conquest of the US market began, an older Toyota may not seem like much to get excited over. But some of my readers live in the rust belt where anything over five years old begins to corrode. A 1981 Corolla like this one would be eaten alive by a few Minnesota winters. So, perhaps to sate them and perhaps to taunt them, today we feature a 1981 Toyota Corolla 1.8 Liftback.
The Liftback was introduced into the Corolla lineup in 1976, and in my opinion it was a great-looking car. My parents nearly bought one new, but chose instead to spend the money on a down payment toward their first house together. These old Corollas were rear-wheel-drive, light and available with a five-speed manual, so despite their low power numbers they were relatively sporty. In 1979 the Corolla became larger and much more boxy, but maintained its RWD layout. This 1981 model is equipped with the 3T-C 1.8 liter carbureted inline four producing a thundering 75 horsepower. Despite being the larger engine, it is less powerful than the smaller-displacement 1.6 liter SOHC option. This car lacks SR5 badges so I assume it's a base model.
The whole reason I snapped this car was because, well, it's nearly 30 years old. And it's bright yellow. And while crossing the street coming back from art history class, it looked pretty clean. Upon closer inspection there's rust where body dings weren't touched up, and it took a hit to the quarter panel behind the driver door that wasn't properly straightened. A piece of trim is missing from the passenger side quarter as well. Other than that, though, the body is in pretty solid shape. I actually like a number of older Toyotas in bright yellow, and the black steel wheels with bright lip kind of look... dare I say good?
In all honesty I don't care too much about these cars. I think the 1976-79 Liftbacks are far more attractive. However the fact this is one of the last mainstream RWD Corollas makes it somewhat important, and it's in relatively good condition. So why not show it off?


  1. Wow great post,I am really satisfied with this posting that you have given us. This is really a stupendous work done by you. Thank you and looking for more posts by you.

  2. Awesome! The highly coveted "coupe'", much rarer than the longer roofed liftback. I've owned a ton of 3TC powered cars, there's just nothing better if you want to make $500 last forever.

  3. I was just looking around for pictures of my first car and saw this post. Thank you for featuring it! Mine ran until it hit about 275,000 miles, although the catalytic converter started rattling around 180,000. Still, it got around 38 mpg hwy and 26-28 mpg city. It was a good car and I would love to own another one. :)

  4. Coool... i reallly want liftback... but i dont have money money money

  5. I also was looking for pictures of my 2nd car and found these exactly like the one I owned for 9 years in Louisiana and Florida. I really liked that car, used it for my Navy years and college classes plus some light towing and moving from place to place. Great pictures!