Junkyard Find: 1975 Toyota Corolla

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

It’s strange how the passage of a few decades makes the mid-70s Corolla seem like a much better car than it actually was. Granted, it was quite a car for the time, with a combination of price, reliability, and fuel economy that Detroit and Europe couldn’t touch… but if we take ourselves out of the mindset of the Malaise Era and fast-forward our vehicular expectations maybe ten years, this generation of Corolla turns out to be a cramped, underpowered, noisy econobox that lasted maybe 150,000 miles (if you lived in the rust-free Southwest).

Of course, it’s all about perspective. If you were a Ford dealer trying to move Pintos in 1975, you probably woke up screaming with Corolla nightmares, every night.

You don’t see many Corollas of this era with automatic transmissions, for obvious reasons.

This car’s last owner was serious enough about his or her car to join the Toyota Owners and Restorers Club, but that wasn’t enough to keep the ol’ Corolla out of the jaws of The Crusher.

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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  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Apr 19, 2012

    My sister owned a 77 Corolla base model 1200cc 4 spd 2dr in grey. No carpet only rubber matting. The only option was an AM/FM radio. It had of all things a manual choke. Just pull it out when you started it and as the the engine idled it pushed itself back in. The car was quite reliable she got over 150k out of it.

  • Ciddyguy Ciddyguy on Apr 19, 2012

    Pinto Fan, you are a tool. Your arguments are beginning to sound like a broken record and that's not good. I grew up on large sized domestic sedans and my parents bought a '76 Honda Accord, and ended up with 2 more and Mom had one more after Dad died, and I had 2 used Hondas, they all served us well and without issues, other than the timing belt in the '85 Accord breaking, fortunately, not on the upstroke as it was an interference motor so nothing other than a fresh belt/water pump was needed. Both of my Hondas got over 180K miles on them, and they would've gone much more than that if neither of them had been rear ended. I grew up mostly with Mopar products and one of them was a '64 Dodge station wagon with the 225 slant six, torqueflite auto and it lasted us until 1977 with over 140K miles on it, and that was a RARE thing back when it was made, and in the 70's, most cars could get over 100K miles with no problem, 150K was considered the theoretical limit by the mid to late 70's, now, 200K+ is common, with the Japanese being some of the first to go that much without a major rebuild - that was in the 80's as we've seen many of these Japanese cars doing just that, with many beginning as early as the mid to late 70's where rust isn't an issue onwards. My parents and I got lucky as ALL of our cars were reasonably reliable but the Hondas were so much better put together than anything by Detroit up until more recent years. While I like the basic design of the Pinto, I know enough to know that it was nothing remotely as nice as what was coming out of Europe or Japan. Mom had a 76 Chevy Vega and it ended up being a decent car for the times, but it was SLOW, slower than that '75 Corolla in fact and not nearly as fuel efficient I don't think and they were of similar size. It's become terribly sad that you have become so blind as to the truth about what had/has happened in the automotive industry that you feel compelled to defend to the death the poor Pinto despite it's major faults.

  • Bof65705611 CarPlay is awesome. Nav and music have been mentioned but it’s also amazing for texting, WhatsApp, my calendar, Zoom calls, FaceTime calls, and phone calls. I don’t like touchscreens in the car but both my cars (BMW, Mazda) use a rotary knob, which isn’t great, but doable with minimal time with eyes off the road.
  • Tassos Most people here who think it is a good idea have NO idea how much such a conversion costs. Hint: MORE than buying an entire new car.
  • Zipper69 Current radio ads blare "your local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer" and the facias read the same. Is the honeymoon with FIAT over now the 500 and big 500 have stopped selling?
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh hmmm get rid of the garbage engine in my chevy, and the garbage under class action lawsuit transmission? sounds good to me
  • ToolGuy Personally I have no idea what anyone in this video is talking about, perhaps someone can explain it to me.