No, the first-gen Tercel wasn’t related to the Corolla, but the marketing suits at Toyota USA hoped that some of the Corolla’s reputation for reliability would rub off on their smaller, cheaper, front-drive subcompact. It worked, mostly because the Tercel really was as bulletproof as the Corolla. It was also noisier, slower, and less comfortable, but painful memories of the Iranian Revolution-fueled 1979-80 oil crisis made the not-so-thirsty 83-horsepower Tercel very popular in North America. Most entry-level subcompacts don’t survive 31 years on the street, Toyota or not, and so this example I sighted in a Denver self-service junkyard is a rare find.
The engine is mounted longitudinally, which meant that it was easy for Toyota to make a four-wheel-drive version in the generation following this one.
The differential is in a separate housing below the engine, which makes the center of gravity higher than it would be in a transverse front-driver. It also means you can do a transmission swap in about 30 minutes (sadly, replacing the clutch is a real hassle).
This car managed 155,512 miles before taking its last tow-truck ride, which works out to about 5,000 miles per year.
It may have sat idle for decades, however; this baseball card for a player who was with the Mariners for just the ’85 season was sitting on the back seat.
I also found this early-to-mid-70s Fisher-Price “Little People” Girl in the car. There’s something sad about an old toy destined to be crushed with a car, shipped to China, and burned during the steel-melting process.
Here’s an innovative aftermarket security system for the trunk.
OK, let’s watch some ads for this car! Here’s a puzzling Tarzan-themed commercial.
And here’s a very Late Malaise Era ad. The sound is bad, but you get the idea.