By on January 12, 2011


The tiny rear-wheel-drive station wagon, killed by hatchbacks, minivans, and 64-ounce sodas, is no longer with us. Here’s a reminder of an era in which such vehicles were relevant.

The 2T-C engine in this car displaced 1,588cc and made 88 horsepower. That doesn’t sound like much, but keep in mind that this car scaled in at a mere 2,280 pounds.

Yes, it was noisy and crude and would leave nothing but a grim memory in the responding paramedics’ minds after tangling with an Excursion, but I’m still saddened to see another subcompact wagon get crushed.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

56 Comments on “Doomed 1979 Corolla Wagon Would Fit In Current Corolla’s Cup Holder...”


  • avatar
    UnclePete

    We had a ’78 Corolla. I’m reminded of it today with all the snow today in the North East US (we have about 15″ of new snow so far and counting).

    At the time we had the Corolla, we lived on the top of a hill. Just before winter, I’d throw the snow tires on the car. On blizzard days like this, that car would get up and down that hill, when most of the other folks that lived there would be leaving their wheels at the bottom of the hill. The car was 50/50 balanced and had a lot of poise in winter driving. Remember, this was also a RWD car; you don’t need FWD if you have the right vehicle. I kind of wish Toyota was still making these today! (In case you were wondering, we had that Corolla 10 years and put 200,000 miles on it.)

  • avatar
    obbop

    Well, whatever pros/cons the contraption contains at least the spark plugs are easily accessible.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Love that Jade color. The current Corolla used to come in a very similar color until 2011 came around. Now if you want an actual color you have a choice of red or blue. Seems new cars in green are almost as rare as new station wagons! :/

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      It was once blue, it really needs a coat of wax.  But with NuFinish you too can have that showroom shine.  Look at this ’79 Corolla, a wreck?  Hardly! With NuFinish…

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Hey even tiny FWD wagons were fun!  (Said the former owner of a 1997 Escort station wagon.)  Made all of 110hp from 2.0 liters of SOHC 4cyl and was hooked to a 4speed auto.  Handled well, carried quite a bit of cargo, and weighed right around 3,000lbs.
     
    Wouldn’t mind one of those Corolla wagons as a grocery getter.

    • 0 avatar
      anchke

      Yeah, grocery getter, hardware store runner, kayak lugger, fishing pal … it’s for the driver who needs a functional vehicle w/out design pretensions.  ‘Course a modern answer to that is Fit, Yaris … With predictions of $5 gas, it might be back to  the future.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    My brother and his wife had one of those, mustard yellow, when they first got married, and drove it for many years afterward.   I think his business partner bought it and is still keeping it running.

    • 0 avatar
      UnclePete

      We used to call that color baby crap yellow! (Though we usually used another term for crap…)
       
      My Corolla was white with a blue interior. We also had another Corolla, an 82 2 door, that was white/blue. My ex-wife traded that in for an 87 Camry.

  • avatar

    I had a ’79 stripper coupe from ’85 to ’93. It had the 1.2 liter engine. Like UnclePete’s, mine did remarkably well in snow. I did put a little ballast in teh trunk in the winter. The car served me very well. It’s previous owner was David Albright, who subsequently was one of the Iraq weapons inspectors.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Man, that remined me of an Air Force buddy who bought one of those. A 1971 Corolla 2 dr. wagon, yellow. I was envious of his gas mileage, as my avatar only got 16 mpg on average. Even though gas was 25.9 back then, when your monthly income was less than $200.00 per month net, It was no different than it is today. Either that or I was really, really cheap! In 1975 I came real close to buying a new 1976 yellow Corolla SR5 hatch. Real pretty. That was the “one that I let get away”, as I bought a 1976 ¾ ton pickup instead! Bad choice, indeed!

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      @Zackman

      I made the same mistake as you, but mine was a 1975 Ford 1/2 ton, and I made my mistake a full year earlier than you :) I too, had friends who owned the liftback,and I considered joining them, but I wanted to be different. They enjoyed weekends out cruising, while I was wrenching on that POS. It had 2 tanks, 52 gallons total capacity, and I could have poured it out the window slower than it consumed it.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      BMWfan: Ha Ha Ha! You have my sympathy, indeed! Isn’t it amazing what a little machismo can do to you when you’re a young man? I was 24 at the time! Here’s another tidbit of my “reasoning” back then: I bought a 3/4 ton because it used regular gas, not unleaded, which saved me all of about 3 cents per gallon! Bad boy, stupid boy!

  • avatar
    tced2

    I wonder how it would do in crash tests? What kind of materials would have to be used to keep the weight similar and get a good crash rating?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m just extremely glad I never crashed mine. I think they were probably death traps.

    • 0 avatar
      Garak

      The Smart Fortwo got 4 EuroNCAP stars, and it’s even lighter than the Corolla. Using techniques like that, you could possibly build a reasonably safe compact stw.
       
      Perhaps Smart could be persuaded to build a Fortwo-based wagon? That would be awesome.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      As the owner of a ForTwo, I find such a concept to be interesting, although it would make it less practical to park face-in to the curb (a thing essentially abandoned with the current 2nd gen ForTwo) … an extra 6-inches of cargo space might be good, but then the car is headed for CRX-lite territory…

  • avatar
    threeer

    Almost pulled the trigger a few years back on a 1982 Corolla wagon…reminded me so much of our 1981 two-door Corolla that we owned (and loved) for the better part of a decade (in that cool metallic orange color!).  Something very honest and appealing about those cars, which is maybe why I refuse to give up the 1997 Toyota Tercel parked outside with 192,000 miles on it, and still going strong.  Options?  I got your options…how about an engine, tranny, four wheels and two doors (non-electric, thank you!)..there’s your options! 

  • avatar
    Zackman

    As we haven’t seen hide nor hair of Paul and his CC’s lately, is it too early to start the “Paul is dead” rumors?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Now which Beetles album do I have to listen to backwards again?  My future in-laws are rabid Beetles fans but I always get confused.  (Anybody got a picture of Paul in a crosswalk with no shoes on?)

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Ha! Dan! There are entire websites dedicated to this long-ago hoax. At the end of the Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever”, you can make out what seems to say “I buried Paul”. It’s on the Magical Mystery Tour album. That’s one example. Worth killing some time if you care for a good laugh. Have fun! In thinking about it (briefly), I didn’t hear about until I was out of basic training, but it’s hard to believe how this hoax consumed so much of the pop scene back then.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated. But I have left TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Guess they needed a new host for “This Old House” on PBS.  Although I don’t think they’ll let you drive your F100 around their job site.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Paul (again-)gone?  I seem to have missed the (re-)announcement!  Just looked and could not find anything from the editor’s desk to this effect; has this change been suppressed?

      BTW, no great disrespect to Mr. Martin, but I hardly think random pics from junkyards, or street corners, without the entertaining and engaging interpretation heretofore provided by Paul, are worthy of thr CC-moniker.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      btw, this brings up another point:  does it seem of late, that ttac has lost its mojo?

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated. But I have left TTAC.” Paul: NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

    • 0 avatar

      No announcement has been made for a number of reasons, and I apologize if this comes across as an effort to conceal “the truth.” The fact of the matter is that the departure came at an extremely hectic moment, and I was hoping to avoid the speculative spectacle that tends to accompany this kind of “irreconcilable differences” departure. I refuse to subject my relationship with my father to an internet sideshow.
      That having been said, I will make a brief “official” announcement in an editorial to be published later today. I am deeply aware that Paul’s pieces were a key part of TTAC’s appeal to a number of our readers, and I mourn the loss along with them.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Ed, I hope Paul will still offer his comments on TTAC as one of us knuckleheads (speaking for myself!), as his insight is far better than mine!

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    I want one, and I want to put a Hayabusa engine in it. crash standards be damned, it’ll still be 100 times safer than the engine’s donor vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      stickshift

      I had one of them.  Brown.  5 speed.  Drove it everywhere, including on desert jeep roads.   Did fine offroad as long as there wasn’t a high crown.   With the 5 speed I could keep up with all traffic easily as long as I shifted a lot, except on long uphill grades when I was always in the slow lane.

      Somewhere around 100K I blew the engine due to a coolant leak.  Rather than rebuild, I bought another one, 1981, kind of a gold/yellow.  About the same size, a little squarer “contemporary” styling.  (The 1979 still had some of the quirky Japanese styling before they set up U.S. style studios.) Drove the 1981 up to 122K with no trouble at which point I was so tired of 15 years of these wagons that I finally sold it to get something else.

      I always complained to my mechanic that it wouldn’t break, it was too reliable, that I couldn’t find an excuse to get rid of it.  Finally I did just out of boredom and wanting a better performing car.

      Good memories!

  • avatar
    Terry

    Zack and Dan…I went through the whole “Paul is dead” deal back in the day. What was thought to be “I buried Paul” in Strawberry Fie  lds Forever) was actually..”I’m very bored”. And the song played backwards was “Revolution #9″, which when spun backwards sounded somewhat like “Turn me on, Deadman”
    There there was the whole “Abbey Road” album cover with hidden meanings, like Paul not wearing shoes, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Lampredi

      Actually, it wasn’t “I’m very bored” either, but “cranberry sauce”.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      You can also hear at the beginning of a song (I think Sgt Pepper) you clearly hear Paul saying “I’m dying”…a well engineered hoax.  The album art on that album told quite a story.  Which makes me lament the passing of album art.  CD cases were too small, and with downloads you get nothing at all.  <sigh> Many a good time was spent cleaning a 1/2 oz on a double album…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    It sure is funny to see how a discussion about an old car morphs into so many other subjects. We all have our nostalgia and “what ifs” that stay with us. Fortunately, for me, the vast majority of mine are nothing short of great. Of course it’s nice to still be having lots of fun at the edge of turning 60 years old!

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    “I am the eggman, I am the walrus…coo coo ka choo!”

    • 0 avatar
      dave-the-rave

      At the very end of “I Am the Walrus,” turn it up and you can hear someone reading from a Shakespeare play (don’t recall which), “Is he dead? Sit you down, father, rest you.”
       
      I was in junior high at the time and we were all over the ‘Paul is dead’ thing. Note in the booklet in ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ that all the Beatles are wearing white tuxes, three of them with red roses in the lapel, only Paul with a black rose.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      If I recall correctly, one of the four said the Shakespeare came from a BBC play that was on the radio in the background…

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Around 20 years ago I determined I was a wagon man; even my preferred hatchback (L-body Omni) is a 5-door design, and the time spent in a Suburban made me realize I just like to drive vehicles which can haul lots of cargo and lots of people, preferably at the same time. Perhaps I caught the bug from my father, who replaced the family’s monster Mercury in the early 70s with a sea foam green Corona wagon and who instilled in me a love of the 4-door body style, but I have a mile wide streak of practicality running through me which responds well to seeing any station wagon type regardless of size, especially those wonderful custom variants built upon vehicles never envisioned for the wagon role. Seeing that example destined for the crusher makes me sad.

    A couple of years ago, a friend managed to seize his ’96 Corolla’s engine through the simple neglect of never changing the oil and filter, although he did mention keeping the level topped off every couple of months as “it never gave me any trouble otherwise”. He was ready to send it to the crusher, even as he was signing on the line for a new generation (2009) Corolla to replace his old ride. I convinced him to let me take control of it, and he was happy to sign over the title and let me have my fun with it. A replacement engine and transaxle was found for a few hundred dollars at a nearby recycling yard, and a couple of weekends working on it saw it rolling again with the same invisibility and aplomb it had exhibited before. I had mentioned to another friend an hour’s drive north of me to expect a replacement for his always falling apart ’91 Tercel (when you want the Toyota name but none of its quality: oh what a feeling!) and I called him after an hour’s long shakedown cruise in the revitalized Corolla. My first words to him were, “you’re damned lucky this isn’t one of the wagons; I’d be keeping it on general principles”.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    This wreck brought some fond memories about my Corolla AWD Wagon back in late 90s.
    I was fortunate to dig the pic of a vehicle that looks exactly like mine – color and spec-wise – red, basic, MY1989.
    http://www.autowp.ru/pictures/toyota/corolla/autowp.ru_toyota_corolla_4wd_wagon_3.jpg

    In those times Toyota still was what its reputation says it should be – reasonably modern, reasonably stylish… Actually this one was a rare example of T. being very stylish, bordering on funky – just check those rear stacked lights that Volvo-850, CR-V and Disco II duly copied later on. But above all – absolutely, unbelievably robust and reliable.

    I really loved its low weight, basic comfort and unstoppability in mud and snow.

    And the 4A-F engine, with carburator and still catalist-free – it had nice torque from waaay down and would start right away even in -35-40 degC cold. 
    And yeah, I was younger, the sun was brighter and grass was greener in those days…  

  • avatar
    fincar1

    It looks as though that wagon has served more as a source of interior parts than anything else – body and engine look intact or darn close.
    I rode several times in a neighbor’s Corolla – the “mustard” yellow coupe – the main thing I remember is that it had one of those magnetic manual chokes, and she never realized that you could push it in partway as the engine warmed up, so for the first five minutes it would be running at 2500 rpm. Also it had an aftermarket (actually more like undermarket) tape deck that would spit the tape onto the floor when the eject button was pressed.

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    Thinking about it some more, I had a Corolla sedan as a rental car while over in Ireland. It was a manual transmission car with (IIRC) a 1.2l motor. While it had some of the mechanical attributes of my ’78, it never had the same fun feeling; it felt ponderous and large on those small Irish back roads. The ’78 was no handling queen, but because it was so small and light, it was more fun.

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    My first car was a 1974 Corolla two door sedan with a 2TC. Total stripper, not even arm rests. Even with 88 hp, it went surprisingly well since it was only like 1800 lbs. I flogged the daylights out of it, too, and it only came back for more. 80mph was like 5000 rpm (although there was no tach!) and it never failed!

    • 0 avatar

      I flogged the daylights out of my ’77, too (I think I said ’79 above, but it was a ’77). I joked that I was going to get a license plate that said “REDLININ”. There was a place in DC with several bridges in a row over a creek where you could catch air if you went fast enough, and I did that all the time. I don’t think I ever went 80 though–60 was scary enough for me. When I bought the ’93 Saturn, I began getting speeding tickets.
      Mine was also mustard yellow. And after a police chase through my DC neighborhood, mine had a bullet hole in the driver door for several years–until the inspection people made me get it fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      tiredoldmechanic

      My mother had a ’74 sedan with the 2Tc as well. It served her well and saw a lot of duty with my brother or myself whenever one of our “deathtraps” (her words) was out of commision. As mentioned above, it was a great car in snow. It also had a great heater for a Japanese car of the time. Most imports in those days seemed to be intended for the California market, but that little Corolla took everything a British Columbia winter could throw at it and never missed a beat. I also remember it had a slick shifting 4 speed and a smooth clutch. Sure rusted fast though. My Mom still talks about that “great little white car” she had back in the 70s.

  • avatar
    windsormarxist

    This brings back memories!  When I was about 1, my parents traded in their 1974 Buick Apollo Malaisemobile on a metallic Brown ’78 corolla wagon like this.  I remember travelling with my family all over America in it- and even as an under 7 year old, I remember how squished it was in the back on that horrible vinyl sticky upholstery.  It was replaced as the ‘main car’ by an ’83 Aries, which with its velour upholstery felt like a proper car by comparison.  Needless to say, although it was better from my perspective in the back, it was no Toyota.  The air conditioner dumped water in the carpet; it regularly died in intersections and would often not start.  Thus, the old boring Toyota became our car again.  I remember it met its end when it was t-boned by an old Mercury Marquis when I was seven.  I had to be cut out- my dad’s hard hat was in the back floor board, and my feet were trapped under it.  I remember the Mercury’s hood seemed not to even have a dent in it.  The toyota was about 2 feet narrower.
    So what did Dad do with the insurance payout?  He looked past all of the interesting used cars- and paid a toyota dealer a finders fee to send him ANOTHER ’78 Corolla wagon. We were stuck with this until 1995, when I returned home for a holiday and was driving it.  It had 175000 miles on it at the time, and I remember telling him that the rear end seemed to clunk alot and was quite wooly.  REmember we live in Kansas City, which is on the southern edge of the rust belt.  When I drove it the next day, I hit a giant chuckhole on the interstate, and the car careened into the median.  I got out, and the rear axle was at a 30 degree angle to where it should be- the passenger side leaf spring mount had ripped out of the floor.
    Dad was beside himself when he had it towed to the mechanic who said that the undercarriage was so rotten that there was no metal left to weld to.  It was an excellent car, and really did well to survive 15 years before rusting out.  I did hate it though- irrationally perhaps, but after we got the ultra futuristic Taurus when I was 10, the rusty little Toyota just was so sad; with its broken and unrepaired aircon; sun damaged searing vinyl, and general dowdiness.  When I was 16 and got my Corvair (that was definately a classic) the Toyota was just an old beater.  Perhaps I’ve been too hard on a car that you still see today in Columbia and Afghanistan.
     
    -Brian
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Was the K-car’s A/C a dealer installed version? I had a similar malady with my Omni’s after-purchase Mopar A/C, and it was traced to a lazy mechanic slicing off a critical drain tube in order to fit it through the firewall. The exiting moisture was immediately blown back against the firewall, where the open-cell foam sealing grommet would wick it back into the cabin, allowing it to pool in the passenger side foot well and eventually soaking through the jute mat and fiber backing. An afternoon with a trimmed rubber hose, some mild steel to form it into a downward spout, and some sealing putty cured that problem.

    • 0 avatar
      windsormarxist

      The K car had factory air- but IIRC it was a problem with the drain like what you describe.  All I remember is that my mom finally got sick of her feet being wet and made my dad stop at a Plymouth dealer in deepest Alabama while we were on vacation.  I remember they had a sickly looking lion in the showroom for some reason, and we were given an Omni for a loaner.  I think for some reason I liked the omni- it seemed sporty yet was smaller than the Aries and I even asked Dad if he could trade the Toyota on one for the second car.  As this was our third visit to a Chrysler dealer on the holiday, he seemed strangely resistant to my suggestion. My fondest memories of that holiday were our ‘trips to the showrooms’- what my parents experienced as a breakdown, I saw as an excuse to sit in cars and get brochures. Perhaps thats why I loved the Aries- it gave me such opportunities, while the boringly reliable Toyotas did not.

  • avatar

    Ah the rust. When I bought my ’77, in ’85, I did notice a little rust, but I didn’t bother to do anything about it because I figured I’d be lucky to have the car three years. By the time I’d had it 7 years, the rust was serious. It manifested itself because I had a lifetime warranty on tires from Merchants, but for some reason every couple of months a tire would start to leak air, and I’d jack the car and change it, and then when I got around to it I’d drive to merchant’s to get the thing fixed. In year 7, it became very hard to jack the Corolla without buckling the side panels.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated. But I have left TTAC.

    Speaking of Paul, can I ask why?

  • avatar
    bufguy

    I owned a 1977-1/2 Corolla wagon…..a slightly facelifted model of the one introduced in 1975. It was metallic brown with tan vinyl interior. My Dad bought it to drive to work from Buffalo to Niagara Falls in lieu of our gas guzzling 1972 Buick Estate Wagon 455.
    The 2TC engine put out 75 hp not 88.
    Living in Buffalo, a lightweight rear wheel drive car was not the best in the snow, so I kept a set of mud hooks that wrapped through the wheels…once installed the car would go through anything. It had a 5 speed and I taught myself how to drive a manual on this car.
    My Dad died two years later and I inherited the car..I put a VDO tach in the empty clock bezel, installed a pioneer stereo in the dash and I was in heaven.
    I traded it in two years later on a gorgeos 1980 VW Scirocco

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

     If that were a proper sized station wagon that could hold more than 4 midgets I would be sad to see it get crushed. But a crude RWD underpowered rust to oblivion Toyota from this time period. All I can think of is not being able to make it up the slight ramp to get to the very first McDonalds drive thru during Winter with one of these owned by my friend at the time. It would barely make it up normal hills in the Summer either and passing on a two lane highway was scary. I think he only had it that one Winter and Summer when he lost his job and had to make due with a beater. Haven’t seen one of these in about 20 years- no joke! His replacement 1986 Celebrity wagon felt like a race car in comparion with the 130 HP FI 2.8 and there was considerably more room and comfort to that car.

  • avatar
    MyCorolla

    Well, I’m taking my 78 Toyota Corolla out of retirement. I have a carburetor related problem.
    When the car warms up the idle heaves back and forth.  I was advised it’s an idle air control valve.  What part is that exactly?  Can anybody advise where I can find a picture of one?
    The car passes smog at normal driving speed but not when idling.  Also, I found a lot of carbon build up in the EGR valve, is it possible the interior of the engine as the build up as well?  What type of instrument do I use to clean inside via the ports?


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India