Junkyard Find: 1989 Toyota Corolla GT-S

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1989 toyota corolla gt s
The Corolla was the first Toyota car to be a smash sales hit in the United States (I’d like to say it was the Corona, for obvious reasons, but that car’s sales figures were merely respectable for a then-obscure brand), but we didn’t think of the sensible little econoboxes as fast until the legendary AE86 Corolla GT-S in 1983. Then came the front-wheel-drive FX16 GT-S, a worthy competitor to European hot hatches.The AE92 GT-S never gained the cult following of the earlier GT-S cars, and so you won’t see many on the street today. Here’s an ’89, spotted in an Oakland, California, self-service wrecking yard.
I see a few of these cars each year in wrecking yards, but the last time one made this series was all the way back in 2012.
It came close to 200,000 miles during its 29-year career, but couldn’t quite get over the top.
The engine, which was yanked before I arrived, would have been a 4A-GE 1.6-liter four-cylinder, rated at 115 horsepower. MR2s, Geo Prizms, and earlier Corollas had 4A-GE power; the Prizm GSi was the GM-badged counterpart to the Corolla GT-S, though the Corolla coupe had the Sprinter Trueno body while the Prizm was based on the Sprinter sedan.
Appropriately enough for a car found in a wrecking yard within sight of the Oakland Coliseum, stickers for the Oakland Athletics, Oakland Raiders, and San Jose Sharks adorn its rear side glass.
The Japanese-market version didn’t get the popup headlights, but it was available with a 165-horse supercharged engine.
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3 of 14 comments
  • Raphael Raphael on Aug 20, 2022

    is this car still available to be parted out?

    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Aug 21, 2022

      Yes, it is!

      (Very likely untrue, but this is the car business - everyone wants to believe.)

  • Mym65689027 Mym65689027 on Sep 28, 2022

    Is it still available for parting out after few years? If so what is the address of this junkyard please, thanks

  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers. 
  • ToolGuy 2019 had better comments than 2023 😉
  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down. https://academic.oup.com/dh/article-abstract/42/4/548/5063004
  • Bobby D'Oppo Great sound and smooth power delivery in a heavier RWD or AWD vehicle is a nice blend, but current V8 pickup trucks deliver an unsophisticated driving experience. I think a modern full-size pickup could be very well suited to a manual transmission.In reality, old school, revvy atmo engines pair best with manual transmissions because it's so rewarding to keep them in the power band on a winding road. Modern turbo engines have flattened the torque curve and often make changing gears feel more like a chore.
  • Chuck Norton For those worried about a complex power train-What vehicle doesn't have one? I drive a twin turbo F-150 (3.5) Talk about complexity.. It seems reliability based on the number of F-150s sold is a non-issue. As with many other makes/models. I mean how many operations are handle by micro processors...in today's vehicles?