Australia is full of RSL Clubs, complexes consisting of restaurants, bars and slot machines (“the pokies”). These clubs are owned and run by the Returned and Services League, and were initially formed in the 1950s to provide a meeting place and an entertainment venue for returned servicemen. RSL Clubs are often a great place to buy a cheap meal, and the buffet at my local Kedron-Wavell RSL makes for a dangerously good companion to my poor impulse control. A walk around one of these clubs reveals their clientele skews towards the elderly, patrons having established a weekly ritual of going down to the RSL for a meal, a pint of beer and a play on the pokies. This Corolla I spotted in the parking lot likely belongs to one of those elderly patrons.
These were the last of the rear-wheel-drive Corollas sold in Australia. Frankly, I find them utterly, utterly dull. They are just another example of the stodgy, conservative RWD Japanese cars that were such a fixture of the Australian market in the 1980s. At least Toyota didn’t keep it around well past its sell-by date, replacing it with the modern, front-wheel-drive E80 for 1985. The same can’t be said for larger, locally-assembled Japanese cars like the Toyota Corona, Nissan Bluebird and Mitsubishi Sigma which all stuck around until 1987. But these Japanese sedans and wagons were all simple, reliable and conservatively styled, and the Australian buying public lapped them up.
Despite my feelings on this particular generation of Corolla, I’m simply in awe of how mint this example is. It even has our old-style license plates, complete with a vintage Sci-Fleet Toyota dealer frame. The dashboard has survived the ravages of the sun, thanks to a tacky dash mat. It looks like this Corolla has just been sitting in a garage for thirty years! Its owner may be a vet, but this car is a veteran too. The difference is, this particular vet didn’t see any conflict.