By on July 14, 2013

18 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHaving driven quite a few mid-70s Corollas (these cars were as commonplace during my early driving years as are second-gen Tauruses today), I have to say that they were painfully slow even by the tolerant standards of the Middle Malaise Era. However, they were also shockingly reliable by the era’s standards, which means that these cars were still plentiful on the street until well into the 1990s. Since few outside a hard core of fanatics have shown much interest in pre-AE86 Corollas, these cars get scrapped as soon as something expensive breaks and/or the Rust Monster’s bites get too large. Here’s a Deluxe liftback that I found in a Colorado self-serve yard a few weeks back.


“A welded body, not a nuts-and-bolts body!”
05 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis was the era of 5-digit odometers (I believe Toyota went to 6-digit units in the early 1980s), so there’s no telling if this is a 90,278-mile car or a 590,278-mile car.
02 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is in pretty good shape, so I’m guessing this car has no more than 190,278 miles on the clock.
11 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhile the 1976 Toyota subcompact version of “Deluxe” seems laughably Spartan today, this car did have some features you didn’t see on many cars in its cheapo price range.
07 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRear window defroster!
04 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAM radio with slider-style tone and volume controls!
15 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost cars in Colorado don’t rust much, thanks to the area’s single-digit humidity, but Japanese cars of the 1970s were surpassed only by air-cooled Volkswagens in the “rust anywhere, rust everywhere” department.
12 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s possible that this car spent much of its life in the Midwest, but this Colorado dealer emblem says otherwise.
17 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe liftback hatch made these cars excellent haulers.
19 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThat is, they were excellent haulers if you didn’t have to move anything heavy… or carry passengers… or drive uphill. The pushrod 2TC was good for 75 horsepower, but it felt like less.
03 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you had one of these in your 2TC car, you needed plenty of patience when negotiating freeway onramps or attempting to pass a slow camper in the mountains. Still, these engines were hard to kill.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

20 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1976 Toyota Corolla Deluxe Liftback...”


  • avatar

    It’s got an honest face. I haven’t seen one around DFW in at least 20 years though. Almost all the ’70s Japanese iron has rusted away, or had the plastics in the interior disintegrate when I do spot the rare one in the junkyard.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    The SR5 was a killer package. Sure it stretched Sport to new hyperbole levels but it was vastly superior to anything out of Detroit. The only better h’back of the time was the Supra.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I like the rear window defroster, and in that era it wasn’t a universal item like nowadays, even in wintery climes.

    My ’75 Valiant (speaking of malaise rustbuckets with superbly durable drivetrains…), being a “Brougham” edition, had a TWO speed rear window defogger:
    Low, aka loud and ineffective
    High, aka very loud and barely effective)
    Off (quiet)

    I can almost smell the interior of this Corolla when I look at the pictures.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I think this is a 79 Corolla. My dad had a 79 Corolla SR5 with a 5 speed. It had over 300,000 miles on it when the odometer stopped working. My brother wrecked it a few years later.

  • avatar
    dvdlgh

    I had a ’79 Corolla Liftback SR5 w/5-spd. The SR5 had all gauges, no idiot lights. Great car. In the spring of ’88 an ’85 Mazda 626LX Touring Sedan, 5-spd(w/the digital dash) fell into my hands for $6500. I still remember the guy at the bank, “You paid what? Loan value is $8900!” I sold the SR5 (122k miles) to a guy I knew and saw him driving for quite a few years after that. Even in our Wisconsin winters there was no rust on it when I sold it.

    • 0 avatar
      FAHRVERGNUGEN

      My folks had an ’80 SR5 in black, 5 speed. It was a very dependable car, and I recall the rotating radio box at the bottom of the dash. I frequently borrowed it when my 1st gen ’80 Escort Wagon SS (supremely stupid) wouldn’t behave, especially after cracking the block at 12,000 mi in sub-zero VT weather. Considering the two cars were roughly the same cost, the folks did better, though I wanted 4 doors and FWD.
      I ‘bought’ it from them when they went for a 1st gen MR2. Toyota made happy customers in those days. Ford made customers happy only when the warranty covered the ‘stuff’ they sold.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Rear defogger & radio were both options on my Chevette from Atlanta,Georgia. I’m guessing a/c for Corolla was a dealer kit like the Chevette. Chevette had a durable motor & turbomatic but the automatic choke was a complete bugger and the alternator was cheap and failure prone. The brake master cylinder had issues. All areas Toyota models exceeded in for a marginally higher price.

  • avatar
    cwallace

    Saw one of these for sale in Houston a few weeks ago. Interior was a little worn, and it had a Maaco paint job. $2500 was the asking price, it sat for about three weeks. Could it possibly be worth that?

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    My sister had the two-door hardtop version of this , bought new , the 1976 Deluxe with the 4-speed stick , same caramel color interior , in metallic brown , which I drove a great deal as we lived together at the time . Very plasticky , but considering the lousy competition of the era not so bad .The brown color must have been popular , IIRC Sis wrecked it and the first junkyard I called had a door in the same color , and I splurged on new carpet and a console from a SR-5 model . The carpet by then had also faded , from brown to a pukish green . A buddy had a late seventies Corolla SR-5 liftback in silver .The cars that made the Corolla’s rep in the U.S. The earlier Corollas were much less stout , nowhere as good as the early Coronas and Celicas.

  • avatar

    Murilee,

    Did you get any more shots of the exterior? This was one of the better looking Japanese cars in the U.S. at the time. It’s got very nice lines and proportions. A Corolla shooting brake if you will.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “I have to say that they were painfully slow even by the tolerant standards of the Middle Malaise Era”

    I drag-raced one of these in my dad’s 74 Pinto wagon. The Toyota won…and got the ticket from the cop who saw us. I have to say that Pinto was a lot of fun to flog, but maintaining momentum was crucial.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Russycle, I’d keep that bit of automotive excitement a secret. Don’t know if the public at large can handle the sheer entertainment value of two automotive troglodytes rolling to a face-melting 55 mph in a 1/4 mile. Please tell me you wore helmets and had a Japanese man immitate Howard Cossell.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    When the Corolla Liftback came out IIRC there were comments calling it a ” shooting brake ” in the car magazines with quite a few favorable comments on the styling as well as comparisons to the Volvo 1800 Sport wason . IMO , the next generation Liftback , the 1980 one is much less elegant , tho undoubtedly a better car .

  • avatar
    cls12vg30

    Ah, memories. My father bought a lightly-used ’78 Corolla SR5 Lift-Back in 1979, I think. It was to replace the ’73 Pinto my parents had when I was born. I grew up in that Toyota, Dad drove it from the time I was 3 until I was 14. It was a dark burgundy color with those same gunmetal wheels as in the commercial. His was a 5-speed with A/C. (It was purchased in Charleston, South Carolina.)

    We moved to Buffalo, NY in 1986, and by the early ’90s the Corolla was rusting pretty bad. One day Dad was tinkering underneath and a piece of frame rail came off in his hand. He promptly sold the car for $300. We would see it around town for at least a year after that.

    He’s still nostalgic about that car. If I could find one in restorable condition, I’d buy it for him in a minute.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Had a 75 Corolla wagon as my first car out of college. Sold for 5K new and I paid $2,500 for it with 100K on the engine and 120K on the car. In those days a 5yr old Japanese car with 100K on it would sell for 1/2 its original retail value. It was reasonably spritely with the stick. Nicely appointed if simple interior, dignified lines. An all-around honest car.


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
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India