Junkyard Find: 1987 Toyota Corolla FX16 GT-S
Just a few years after Toyota confused American car shoppers by badging the early Tercel as the “Corolla Tercel,” they offered two very different vehicles as the 1987 “Corolla GT-S.” One was the AE86 coupe, based on the older rear-drive Corolla platform and much beloved by present-day drifters, and the other was the front-drive FX16 hatchback, built in California and equipped with the same 16-valve 4AGE engine as the AE86. The FX16 was sort of goofy-looking, with sharp angles and cheezy-looking plastic panels, but it was a screamin’ fast competitor to the VW GTI and held together much, much longer than its Wolfsburg rival.
I found this example in a California self-service yard just a few freeway exits away from its NUMMI birthplace.
Related to the Sprinter-based Chevrolet Nova and the later Geo Prizm, the FX16 was quite a hit in California. You still see them around, though the rear-drive Corollas are much more popular among racers and restorers.
I’ve seen a few of these cars compete in 24 Hours of LeMons races, and they’re definitely top-level competitors in the hands of a good driver, certainly much quicker around a road course than the rear-drive Corollas. The GTIs can be about as quick, but tend to be much more fragile.
There’s no telling why a not-particularly-thrashed sub-200,000-mile Corolla got junked; my money is on vast quantities of parking tickets and indifference from buyers at the subsequent towed-cars auction.
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I wouldn't call an A2 VW GTI fragile. I've got the last of em, the 2 liter 16v. I doubt I will ever replace it. However, I did also love the FX-16 back in the day. This was the time to buy a hot hatch. Light. Quick. Communicative. Not full of weight increasing and complacated power everything inside. Good seats, a SR. What else do you really NEED or want??? The new VWs are so over bloated with crap. I'll just repair mine as needed.