Junkyard Find: 1987 Toyota Corolla FX16 GT-S

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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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  • Otto3x Otto3x on May 30, 2012

    Murilee Martin, please tell me where the Corolla is ....I need parts.

  • Djkenny Djkenny on Jun 07, 2013

    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.

  • Lou_BC Once again, Mustang is the last pony car standing. Camaro RIP, Challenger RIP.
  • FreedMike Next up should DEFINITELY be the Cadillac Eldorado. On the subject of Caddies, I saw a Lyriq in person for the first time a couple of days ago, and I'm changing my tune on its' styling. In person, it works quite well, and the interior is very nicely executed.
  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: https://robbreport.com/motors/cars/tesla-model-y-worlds-best-selling-vehicle-1234848318/and any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!
  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars
  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.