Life is sometimes about extremes, and with the extreme life of buying and selling cars comes two cars, recently purchased by me, which easily represent the polar opposites of all things automotive.
The mainstream compact car segment is the perfect example of the infamous “driving appliance.” The Corolla and Civic sell in enormous volume because they are the middle-of-the-road “white bread” option, not in-spite of the vanilla. Unlike many in the automotive press, I don’t find anything wrong with that. In fact, I love me some Wonder Bread. But sometimes you feel like a pumpernickel, and that’s where the 2014 Mazda3 comes in. Mazda was so excited about their new loaf that they invited me to spend the day with them in San Diego. Want to know if you should spend 5+ years with one? Click through the jump.
Calling the Corolla “Toyota’s most important car” would be an understatement. This single model accounts for 38 percent of all Toyotas ever sold in the USA and they expect to shift 330,000 next year alone. If the sheer quantity wasn’t amazing enough, ponder this reality: 75% of sales will be split between just four different configurations. If you’re in a 2014 Corolla, the odds are about one in five that the Corolla next to you is identical save for paint color. Often derided by the automotive press as a “driving appliance,” is there more to the 2014 Corolla or is it just a toaster with wheels? Let’s find out.
I know it probably made perfect marketing sense for Toyota to piggyback their new subcompact’s image atop that of the fantastically successful Malaise Era Corolla, in spite of the fact that the two cars were unrelated other than having the same their parent company, but the confusion caused by the “Corolla Tercel” name persists to this day. For that reason, these cars always attract my attention when I see them in wrecking yards; in this series, we’ve seen this ’80 and this ’81 so far.
Having 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.
I recently inherited a Nissan Cube from my brother. When I tell people this, they have two distinct reactions. For anyone who isn’t into cars, it’s: “Your brother died?” Car people, however, usually respond with: “You have a Nissan Cube?” This is the same reaction that non-car people tend to have when I explain my brother did not die, but rather moved to Los Angeles, where his soul will.
That I do agree with other’s criticism of the fact that the Toyota Corolla has become too appliance-like over the past decade, has me looking back on earlier iterations of the model with increasing fondness.
While there were indeed some memorably fun-to-drive FWD versions—the FX-16 for one (and some may include the NUMMI Nova Twin-Cam, although it wore a “Bowtie”)—there was, and is just no comparison to the “FTD Factor” intrinsic in the earlier RWD models. That “factor” was very present even in the little 1972 1200 Coupe I owned (and “boy-racered” to the degree that my budget and skill set allowed) back in the late ‘70’s. (Read More…)
I now believe that at least half the Toyota All-Tracs ever sold ended up in Colorado, based on the quantities I see in junkyards around Denver. We saw the only Camry All-Trac I’ve ever found anywhere last month, and the Corolla All-Trac wagons are well-represented by this ’89, this ’89, and now today’s ’89. (Read More…)