Junkyard Find: 1983 Toyota Corolla Deluxe Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Until the 1984 model year, every new Corolla sold in the United States used a rear-wheel-drive configuration. Today's Junkyard Find is an AE72 Corolla station wagon, from the final model year of its generation sold here, found in a car graveyard in John Steinbeck's hometown.

junkyard find 1983 toyota corolla deluxe wagon

Not only was 1983 the final model year for the E70 Corolla in the United States, it was the last model year for Corolla wagons here until the AE95 wagon went on sale here as a 1988 model.

Presumably, the longroof versions of the smaller-than-Corolla Tercel and larger-than-Corolla Cressida were considered sufficient for American Toyota shoppers for the 1984-1987 period.

The 1980-1982 E70 Corollas sold in the United States were powered by the poky-but-reliable 1.8-liter pushrod 3T engine, but the '83s got the far more modern 1.6-liter SOHC 4A engine.

This carbureted 4A-C was rated at 74 horsepower.

It's tough to make out the text on the underhood emissions sticker, but it shows us that this Corolla was sold new as a California-market vehicle.

While a couple of the cheaper US-market 1983 Corolla models had four-speed manuals as their base transmissions, all the new Corolla wagons that year got a five-speed manual with overdrive top gear as standard equipment. If you wanted your '83 Corolla wagon with a three-speed automatic, the cost went up three hundred bucks (about 931 bucks in 2023 dollars).

The MSRP for this car was $6,508, which comes to about $20,187 in today's money.

The Nissan Sentra wagon, which debuted here as a 1982 model, listed at $6,649 ($20,624 now) for 1983. The 1983 Honda Civic wagon cost $6,369 ($19,694 today).

Cars that live near the ocean in California often develop this sort of top-down rust around seams and glass.

In any place where salty fog tended to collect, there is corrosion. I've seen some real Toyota rust horror stories in coastal California, but these cars dissolved into nothingness much more quickly in places like Maine and Minnesota.

176,100 miles on the odometer at the end.

No air conditioning (which would have been actuated via a switch where there's a block-off plate to the right of the heat/vent controls), but someone installed a mid-1980s Proton AM/FM/cassette unit with Schotz noise reduction. Even just a simple AM-only radio would have been a $110 option with this car ($341 in 2023 money).

There was a time, 30 years ago, when these aftermarket EQ amplifiers were snatched up instantly by the first junkyard shoppers to find them.

It has a new engine that gets 18 percent better fuel economy!

Wow! Corolla!

[Images: The Author]

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2 of 19 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jun 20, 2023

    This vehicle does not represent Peak Toyota.

  • Randy in rocklin Randy in rocklin on Jul 03, 2023

    I used to own a 1981 Corolla Coupe with the 1.8 hemi engine and a 5 speed. My little pocket rocket until I crashed in the Wilson tunnel in Hawaii.

  • Theflyersfan The two Louisville truck plants are still operating, but not sure for how much longer. I have a couple of friends who work at a manufacturing company in town that makes cooling systems for the trucks built here. And they are on pins and needles wondering if or when they get the call to not go back to work because there are no trucks being made. That's what drives me up the wall with these strikes. The auto workers still get a minimum amount of pay even while striking, but the massive support staff that builds components, staffs temp workers, runs the logistics, etc, ends up with nothing except the bare hope that the state's crippled unemployment system can help them keep afloat. In a city where shipping (UPS central hub and they almost went on strike on August 1) and heavy manufacturing (GE Appliance Park and the Ford plants) keeps tens of thousands of people employed, plus the support companies, any prolonged shutdown is a total disaster for the city as well. UAW members - you're not getting a 38% raise right away. That just doesn't happen. Start a little lower and end this. And then you can fight the good fight against the corner office staff who make millions for being in meetings all day.
  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )
  • Thehyundaigarage Yes, Canadian market vehicles have had immobilizers mandated by transport Canada since around 2001.In the US market, some key start Toyotas and Nissans still don’t have immobilizers. The US doesn’t mandate immobilizers or daytime running lights, but they mandate TPMS, yet canada mandates both, but couldn’t care less about TPMS. You’d think we’d have universal standards in North America.
  • Alan I think this vehicle is aimed more at the dedicated offroad traveller. It costs around the same a 300 Series, so its quite an investment. It would be a waste to own as a daily driver, unless you want to be seen in a 'wank' vehicle like many Wrangler and Can Hardly Davidson types.The diesel would be the choice for off roading as its quite torquey down low and would return far superior mileage than a petrol vehicle.I would think this is more reliable than the Land Rovers, BMW make good engines. https://www.drive.com.au/reviews/2023-ineos-grenadier-review/
  • Lorenzo I'll go with Stellantis. Last into the folly, first to bail out. Their European business won't fly with the German market being squeezed on electricity. Anybody can see the loss of Russian natural gas and closing their nuclear plants means high cost electricity. They're now buying electrons from French nuclear plants, as are the British after shutting down their coal industry. As for the American market, the American grid isn't in great shape either, but the US has shale oil and natural gas. Stellantis has profits from ICE Ram trucks and Jeeps, and they won't give that up.