Piston Slap: Beaucoup Patience for a Worthy Corolla?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
We’re committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using links in our articles. Learn more here
piston slap beaucoup patience for a worthy corolla

Jeff writes:

Hi Sajeev:

I enjoy your articles advising people on what cars to buy or avoid. I have a bit of a different problem.

My mother recently passed away, and I inherited her 1989 Corolla down in Florida. She bought it used down there, it has a little over 100,000 miles on it. The car is absolutely mint, as you could imagine for a Florida car. It runs great, the AC works well, and the body and paint are in excellent condition, as is the interior – it has been kept out of the sun. Even the engine is in great condition – all the anodized parts still look as new. Plus, it doesn’t even leak. It has had regular maintenance, belts, hoses and fluids changed.

My wife and I are both taller people, and don’t fit well into the car. Plus, it doesn’t have any safety equipment to speak of, besides seat belts. I always get nervous driving on US 19 with all those Panthers and old people. At some point we would like to sell it.

I really don’t want the car to go to a kid who won’t take care of it. I would rather see it go to someone who would preserve the car, maybe a collector of Japanese cars. It isn’t costing us much to hang onto the car, so it is not an urgent issue, but I would like it to go to a good home.

I’d appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Sajeev answers:

Oh my, that’s a sweet little runner! And if you think my exuberance for a time capsule grade Toyota Corolla is unfounded, you haven’t spent much time back-to-back between one of these and one of the new Tupperware nightmares sold at Toyota dealerships.

And we all should love mundane, respectable yet ultimately desirable vehicles. If this was a 1986 Mercury Sable LS, I’d beg for the keys!

If a Lincoln-Mercury fan like myself exists, I am sure a Toyota nerd does too. Fingers crossed on that one. But I digress…

I understand the car needs to go, and I am sorry for your loss. I am touched that you won’t let the Corolla just go to anyone, because it’s true: they will ruin it. Even if they don’t mean to, because that’s how it works when a car this old/pristine/unloved enters the used car market. It isn’t a new car and it sure as heck isn’t a Pontiac Trans Am with T-tops, a big block and a 4-speed.

My advice? Hit the forums and ask for advice, starting with Japanese Nostalgic Car. Any and all Toyota forum is a good idea too. Place classified ads in all these forums too, they are usually free and you might meet some nice people to boot.

Put an advertisement in Hemmings or any other classic car publication you like. Be prepared to spend a ton of time and money (relatively speaking) for not much reward in the end. But, you know the drill, it takes beaucoup patience to sell something as worthy as a honest and clean 1989 Toyota Corolla.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

More by Sajeev Mehta

Join the conversation
3 of 53 comments
  • Icemilkcoffee Icemilkcoffee on Feb 15, 2012

    Back in 1989, I believe the 5mph bumper rule was still in force. So this car is tougher than the letter writer assumes. The bumper regulation was relaxed to 2.5mph from 1990 and on (hence the 'euro' bumper on the E30 BMW's)

  • Monty Monty on Feb 15, 2012

    Sajeev: Please forward my email to the OP, or send his email to me, thanks. Very interested in this car. Very. We're building a garage this summer, so we will have beaucoup spot for storage and maintenance. A great little car, not yet a collector, yet obviously has sentimental value for a lot of people, judging by the above posts.

  • EBFlex Pretty awesome this thread is almost universally against this pile of garbage. Tesla really missed the mark.
  • FreedMike I suppose that in some crowded city like Rome or Tokyo, there's a market for a luxurious pint-size car. I don't think they'll be able to give them away here in the U.S.
  • TMA1 How much did exchange rates affect this decision? The Renegade is imported from Italy. I'm wondering if that's what caused the price to reach within a few hundred of the much bigger Compass. Kind of a no-brainer to pick the larger, more modern vehicle.
  • CEastwood Everytime I see one of these I think there's a dummie who could have bought a real car , but has to say look at me driving this cool thing I can't drive in the rain like an actual motorcycle that I should have bought in the first place ! It's not Batman I see driving these - it's middle age Fatman .
  • SilverCoupe I should be the potential audience for this (current A5 owner, considering an S5 in the future), but I can't say it excites me. I have never liked the vertical bars in the grilles of sporting Mercedes models, for one thing. The interior doesn't speak to me either.I would be more likely to consider a BMW 4 Series, though not the current version with the double Edsel grille. Still, I suppose it would be worth a look when the time comes to replace my current vehicle.