Junkyard Find: 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1982 toyota corolla tercel

I know it probably made perfect marketing sense for Toyota to piggyback their new subcompact’s image atop that of the fantastically successful Malaise Era Corolla, in spite of the fact that the two cars were unrelated other than having the same their parent company, but the confusion caused by the “Corolla Tercel” name persists to this day. For that reason, these cars always attract my attention when I see them in wrecking yards; in this series, we’ve seen this ’80 and this ’81 so far.

Because of the Corolla/Tercel confusion that Toyota set into motion back in the early 1980s, many 24 Hours of LeMons fans still think that I gave the coveted Index of Effluency award to an undeserving factory-hot-rod Corolla a couple years back, in spite of my protestations that the Tercel EZ is one of the most terrible cars ever to be inflicted on us by the Japanese. The EZ came two generations after the Tercel we’re admiring today.

The first-gen Tercel, however, wasn’t a bad car at all. Fuel economy was phenomenal and it was incredibly reliable by the standards of the era.

It looks like a rear-wheel-drive car…

…but it’s really front-wheel-drive, with the engine mounted above the transmission and sending power to a cute little differential.

Climate-control systems were simpler in those days. Holy mackerel, is that an air conditioning button? Such luxury!

I used one of these Toyota AC buttons as the main power switch on my homemade Junkyard Boogaloo Boombox project.

5-speed manual transmissions were boast-worthy.

By dirt-cheap Late Malaise Era Toyota econobox standards, these stripes were the height of frivolity.

The interior still looks pretty good at age 31 and 150,141 miles on the clock.







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  • Ex-x-fire Ex-x-fire on Sep 05, 2013

    I wonder if the 5 speeds from these would work for a mid-engine car? Most likely they have a low torque rating.

  • Shawnski Shawnski on Sep 05, 2013

    2 door 5sp hatchbacks were fun in their day, one of the few I considered up there with the king of these early FWD sub-compacts: 78-80 Fiesta's. The Tercel hatchbacks reminded me of the iconoclastic Fiat 128s.

  • Matt Posky I paid a little under $300 bucks per month to park in Queens and was told by everyone else with a car that it was a great deal. Parking in Manhattan is typically far more expensive to rent and often involves waiting 20 minutes while someone fetches your car. Unless it was a secure garage where you yourself have 24 hour access directly to the vehicle, and it was less than a block away, there is no scenario in which I would actually purchase a parking spot in Manhattan.
  • GrumpyOldMan The weather protection of a motorcycle plus the bulk of a car.
  • Kcflyer in a world where Miata doesn't exist this still seems like an expensive limited use choice
  • Verbal Crusher bait.
  • Rick T. When my wife was practicing law in Chicago back before our move to glorious TN about 10 years ago, several of her clients did quite well investing in parking spaces there.
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