Inspiration – 1986 Toyota Corolla GTS

A recent rental of a Subaru BR-Z (AKA Scion FR-S) was enough of an eye-opener to inspire a look into a couple of possible influences. It’s a relatively lightweight 2+2 coupe that, compared to most new cars, is surprisingly raw and engaging to drive. If you’ve despaired about the surfeit of cars that try to be everything to everyone, it’s definitely worth looking at this pure sports coupe that allows you to have some fun without getting into illegal territory. But enough of new cars, the first classic in this mini-series is a pretty obvious choice. Check out this 1986 Toyota Corolla GTS for sale for $4000 in Riverside, CA.

1986 Toyota Corolla GTS left front

This car is said to have much work done to it, including new paint, head, radiator, hoses, water pump, fan clutch, and lowering springs. On the negative side, it’s got a salvage title, though with low-value cars such as this, you’ll want to look into what happened as a minor accident or a theft could be enough to write it off. By the pictures, everything certainly looks straight and clean, and the near-stock exterior look gives optimism that the seller did not blow the budget on questionable performance upgrades.

1986 Toyota Corolla GTS right front

This shot does a lot to underscore the apparent straightness of the car. $125 will get you a set of graphics to show off the car’s strengths in an eighties-tastic way, and if you really want to bring the car back to stock, you can raise the ride height back up. Orange fog lights also add some period appeal.

1986 Toyota Corolla GTS interior

The blue interior looks pretty good, though that driver’s side bolster might be on its way out. This shot appears to be taken shortly after paint, as the sill cover is missing, and there are some tools in the driver’s footwell. Other than that, things look pretty clean, with an uncracked dash and pretty stock interior. The steering wheel is a little drift-yo, but it shouldn’t be hard to find something more 1980s to suit this car.

1986 Toyota Corolla GTS engine

Things look pretty clean under the hood too. Most notably, the car appears to have originally been silver, so budget to finish that job by pulling the engine and have the compartment painted, and probably the trunk too. Hopefully the seller has retained the original intake – while the K&N will make some sexy sounds, for more power you’ll want it to be pulling cold air from the exterior, not warm underhood air. As the timing belt is not specifically mentioned, you’ll want to ask about that. All that said, this is a fairly affordable example of an AE86 with plenty of work done – maybe this is the right expression of rear-wheel drive Japanese coupe fun for you.


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2 Responses to “Inspiration – 1986 Toyota Corolla GTS”

  1. -T. Says:

    My first car was an 81 Corolla SR5 fastback, and I always wanted one of these as a follow up. I didn’t appreciate what a great little car that was until many years later.

  2. Dane Says:

    A friend of mine had one of these in the mid 90s. I had occasion to drive it a few times. A great car for car enthusiasts.

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