The Toyota Corolla has been one of the world’s best-selling nameplates for decades now. It has an enduring and well-earned reputation for quality and reliability. Anecdotally speaking, Corollas seem to be built to last because there are so bloody many old ones still around!
I speak especially of Corollas from the 1980s and 1990s. During those decades, there were plenty of other small cars that sold well. Good luck finding them in the same numbers as old Corollas.
This Seca CSX liftback was one of the pricier of the E80 generation; the Seca name debuted on this generation and has been used since then to denote a liftback (or later, hatchback) Corolla.
In Australia, the Corolla has long been a regular podium finisher in the sales race, duking it out for the top spot with the Mazda3 most months. While Mazdas sell like hotcakes now, enough to make them the number two brand in Australia in recent months, they have always been relatively popular. Despite this, 323s of the 1980s and 1990s are far less ubiquitous than their contemporaries from Toyota.
The 1982-86 Nissan Pulsar and its twin, the Holden Astra? Pretty much extinct. The following generation of Pulsar is also getting rare. Conversely, both the E80 and E90 generations of Corolla are daily sightings in Brisbane.
The 1988 Mitsubishi Lancer (Mirage)? Can’t find many of those around. Their predecessor in Australia, the 1982-89 Colt, has completely disappeared from our roads. They were assembled locally, just like the Corolla, but was the Toyota assembled with more care?
Ford’s Mazda 323-based Laser was a hot seller during the 1980s and early 1990s, but those 80s models are starting to disappear from our roads. The early 1990s model, almost identical to the contemporary US Escort, is still relatively common. You can’t go anywhere without spotting an early 1990s Corolla, though.
What is also striking is how few truly dilapidated Corollas seem to be around, with even 1980s examples generally featuring paint jobs that haven’t faded badly. This E90 sedan is a rare exception.
This is a common sight: a well-kept example with aftermarket plastic wheelcovers and naff pinstriping.
While the bulk of Corolla sales were lower trim levels, you can still spy uplevel models like this Seca CSX….
…and the occasional all-wheel-drive wagon.
A lot of Corollas were well-loved family cars that were passed down to children. Some of these Corollas may be on their third, fourth, maybe even fifth owners by now and are still providing faithful service. No, they may not have ever been the most exciting cars, but for people who value reliability and dependability, the Corolla has been a sensible choice for decades.