Junkyard Find: 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Denver really is an alternate universe when it comes to the typical inventory in a self-service junkyard (compared to California, where my formative junkyard years were spent). You won’t find many BMW E30s or Volvo 240s, both of which inhabit California yards to the extent that they clog The Crusher’s jaws, but you will find every oddball four-wheel-drive car built in the 1970s and 1980s. I found this ’89 Corolla All-Trac wagon a couple months back and thought, “Man, these things must be a one-in-a-million find, even in Colorado!” Not so, as it turns out; at another yard maybe ten miles away, here’s one more.

I’ve always preferred the Tercel 4WD wagon, the Civic Wagovan, and— most of all— the AMC Eagle when it comes to 80s four-wheel-drive wagons, but the Corolla All-Trac has a certain flair about it.

This car seems very rusty by Denver standards (with 5% humidity most of the time, cars don’t rust much in these parts), but it turns out that this car came from a Minnesota dealership.

I’m sure true Minnesotans— like, say, my parents— wouldn’t even consider this to be real rust, but: yucko!

I’m still toying with the idea of getting some kind of four-wheel-drive winter beater (though my Nord-Frost-equipped Civic does fine in the snow, even with a Californized Wintern00b™ behind the wheel). It won’t be an All-Trac, however. BMW 325iX? Subaru Justy 4WD? Oleg Cassini Edition AMC Eagle (tell me such a thing exists)?

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Robinculver Robinculver on Oct 23, 2012

    I currently have a 1989 Corolla All Trac automatic. It runs fairly good at 218,000 km but needs transmission work (for the last 60,000km) but I've had my mechanic looking for parts since January with no luck (or maybe he just doesn't want to bother with it). I'd love to get it running in top shape. I just love this car! I'm in the Orlando Florida area, does anyone know anyone who wants to take on the project? This is my daily driver and I'd rather not be without it for longer than a week or two. Any recommendations?

  • Krsears Krsears on Nov 27, 2012

    Which yard is this one located in? I need parts for my All Trac.