CC Capsule: 1978 Toyota Corolla (E30) Hi-Deluxe – Boring Wins

CC has featured the third generation Corolla several times already, yet we have yet to get a proper long-form post about it. Perhaps someone will do that one day, but it’s not going to be me. Because you know what? These Corollas are pretty boring, really. So I don’t think I can muster much more than 600 words on the subject, if that.

The E30 Corolla was absolutely planned and designed to be boring. It is a feature, not a bug. That enabled it to be a true world car and be sold all over the globe. It was successful in its home market too, tallying close to 1.2 million units between 1974 and 1979. But it sure makes it more challenging to write about them.

At least, we’ve not had this 4-door JDM variant on CC yet. Toyota ensured there was at least one Corolla for every potential buyer by fielding a bewildering array of body variants and trim levels. You had the standard 4-door saloon and wagon, but two-door Corollas could be had in five different varieties: pillared coupe, hardtop, notchback, liftback and wagon. Not all markets had all seven body styles to choose from, but Japanese customers could also get wagons in super-basic “van” form, bringing the total up to an impressive nine.

Engines included a 1.2, a 1.3, a 1.4 and 1.6 litre 4-cyl. – the smaller one was gone by 1977 in Japan due to emissions regulations, but was still used in some other markets. I have no idea what our CC has, but I do know that it’s a “Hi-Deluxe.” Which means?…

It’s situated smack-dab in the middle of the range, as per the 1978 brochure. Probably the easiest one to obtain at your local Corolla dealership.

When the E30 Corolla was launched, some thought that Toyota had played it a bit too conservative. The 1.4 and 1.6 litre T engines’s only noteworthy feature was their alloy hemi head; the K engines (1.2 and 1.3) were even less adventurous. Initially, these were mated to either a 4-speed manual or the antique 2-speed Toyoglide, though a 5-speed manual and a 3-speed auto were later added. Power was sent to a cart-sprung live axle. By the mid-‘70s, this started to look mighty dated for a small family car.

What Toyota did better than others was to add perceived quality and toys, fleshing out the rather basic Corolla bones with an improved HVAC system, reduced noise and vibration, better seats, superior build quality and the like. That was how they managed to shift millions of these.

But man, what an ugly kisser these have. Ugly rear end, too. And the middle bit’s not much to write home about, either. The big bumpers of this late JDM version don’t help, but even with the slim ones they had circa 1975-76, the overall impression is “meh” at best.

The E30 Corolla was far from the best product Toyota could muster in the ‘70s, yet in many ways it was good enough in a number of key ways to help its maker conquer the world. In many countries, this was the first Toyota that sold in respectable numbers – the first of many, many more. Boring sells, if it’s also reliable, decently made and reasonably cheap. It’s just hard to work up an appetite for plain white rice.


Related posts:


Junkyard Classic: 1977 Toyota Corolla Revisited, by David Saunders

Autobiography: Driving Nirvana — In A 1975 Corolla, by PN

CC Capsule: 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback – The Very First Of Many, by PN

COAL: 1975 Toyota Corolla 2 Door – Dullsville, by RichP

CC Outtake: 1976 (or so) Toyota Corolla (E30) Wagon – And a Toyota Pickup in the Alley, by PN

CC Outtake: 1979 Toyota Corolla – Still Haulin’ The Groceries Too, by PN