CC Capsule: 1987 Toyota Corolla AE82 – Forgotten But Not Gone

Everyone always seems to talk about and fondly remember the rear-drive AE86 Corolla, or the hot front-drive FX16 versions, but we’re going to show this dutiful Corolla sedan some love.

I am generally not a fan of using platform jargon such as AE82 and so forth, but with certain cars such as this 5th-generation Corolla, you can’t really do without it. I counted no less than five Corolla-badged cars for sale in this period, which doesn’t even include at least two different versions of the Corolla-clone Chevy Nova.

Suffice to say that virtually every other car called a Corolla at this time was more generally interesting than the pictured plain, rectilinear small family car.  This is not to say that lack of interesting qualities equates to lack of sales, as 5th-generation Corollas of all sorts in all markets sold upwards of 3.3 million units over its lifespan.  That’s none to shabby by any measure, and remember that plain models like this almost always make up the bulk of sales when all versions are considered.

This front-drive Corolla featured a 1.6-liter SOHC 8-valve 90-horsepower mill which still employed a carburetor.  While this engine probably never caused anyone to daydream about smooth Corolla driving bliss, it never probably caused them Corolla repair nightmares, either.

If there’s a reason Toyota can have the occasional PR disaster (if not actual disaster) like the unintended acceleration phenomenon and not be completely destroyed in the public eye, it’s millions upon millions of reliable, well-built cars like this dumpy Corolla.

The overall condition of this car was interesting to me.  This car obviously lives full-time outside, as pictured.  It looked fairly clean, but had mud slung around the front tires.  It had cracked or broken lamp lenses, a punched trunk lock cylinder, missing badges, and numerous dents and dings.  The tops of the door panels had long since dissolved.  However, it had a good set of tires on it which were not worn abnormally, good wiper blades, and I got the distinct impression this car is kept mechanically very sound while spending as little as possible on anything else.  If I’m right and the owner cares little about style and lots about utility, he sure picked a good car for it; this car still gets out there and plays ball no matter how ragged its uniform.

I said initially for this Capsule that we’d be showing this Corolla some love, but it doesn’t appear to have turned out that way.  Maybe we’ve shown it more of a knowing head nod in its general direction, signifying that it was (and is) one of the good ones.

I don’t think it cares much what we think of it, and it certainly doesn’t have time for such trivialities.  It has a job to do.