Curbside Classic: 1988 Toyota Corolla FX – Not Even Broken In Yet


Was it rust or ricers that brought so many 1980s Corollas to their unfortunate demise here in Indiana? These cars were certainly hardy enough to endure, yet they disappeared from our roads at least 10 years ago. Except, obviously, this one.


Among late-80s Corollas, the four-door sedans and five-door hatches were overwhelmingly the popular choices here in Rustopia. Stubby little FXs were uncommon  – so uncommon, I’d forgotten about them. It took me a minute to recognize what I was seeing when I came upon this one in the parking lot at my favorite big-box store.


As I circled the car with my camera, a tiny white-haired woman rolled up in a motorized shopping cart. “Are you admiring my car?” she called out. “Absolutely!” I replied. “Oh, I just love my little car. I’m turning 90 this year and I’ve been driving it for 25 years,” she said. “It’s my baby! It replaced a Dodge Dart that my idiot son ruined.” As she stood and opened the hatch to load her groceries, I saw that she was well under five feet tall. I imagined her barely being able to see over the dashboard of that Dart. The FX was just her size.


She opened the driver’s door for me. “Take a look – it has just 35,000 miles on it! I only ever drive it to the store.”


“I take good care of my car, and always park it in the garage,” she said. Yet the body showed some scrapes and the steering wheel was 90 degrees off center despite the front wheels pointing straight ahead. Then she said, “I put gas in it about twice a year. Last time was Valentine’s Day!” I wondered how well it ran on its eight-month-old fuel.


Still, at just under 35,000 miles, this Corolla isn’t even broken in yet. “I wonder what will happen to my car after I’m gone,” its owner wondered aloud. I am sure some young ricer will be thrilled to buy it, but I didn’t say that to her. I figured it would hurt her heart to know how that kid would gladly soup it up and burn it out.


No, I just smiled and said that I really loved how much she obviously enjoyed her just-her-size car.


Check out a CC on the contemporary, but much peppier, Corolla FX16 here.