Junkyard Find: 1989 Toyota Corolla GT-S

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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.
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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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

  • RobbyG $100k+...for a Jeep. Are they selling these in fantasy land?Twin turbo V-6 paired to an 8-speed transmission. Yet still only gets 14mpg.Whatever money you think you would save over a V-8 will be spent 2-3x amount fixing these things when they blow up.
  • Alan Well the manufacturers are catching up with stocks. This means shortages of parts is reducing. Stocks are building around the world even Australia and last year had the most vehicles ever sold here.
  • Larry You neglected to mention that the 2024 Atlas has a US Government 5-Star Safety Rating.
  • Alan Why is it that Toyota and Nissan beat their large SUVs (Patrol/300 Series) with an ugly stick and say they are upmarket? Whilst they are beating the vehicles with an ugly stick they reduce the off road ability rather than improve it.As I've stated in previous comments you are far better off waiting for the Patrol to arrive than buy an overpriced vehicle.
  • Alan How many people do you see with a 4x4 running mud tyres? How many people do you see with a 4x4 running massive rims and low profile tyres? How many people have oversize mirrors for towing once in a blue moon? How many 4x4s do you see lifted? How many people care what tyres they run to save fuel? The most comfortable tyres are more or less the most economical.