Hidden Treasure: Vintage 1980 Toyota Corolla Wagon

American car shoppers were able to buy new Toyota Corolla station wagons from the 1968 through 1996 model years (with a break from 1984 through 1987), after which the Corolla-related RAV4 took over. One of the most popular of the longroof Corollas sold here was the fourth-generation TE71/TE72 version, available in the United States for the 1980-1983 model years. Here’s a first-year example of that wagon, found in a Denver-area car graveyard a couple of months back.

In 1980, the U.S.-market Corolla was available as a two- or four-door sedan, coupe, two-door liftback or station wagon (known as the Corolla Van in Japan). There was the Corolla Tercel as well, but that was an unrelated car just cashing in on the Corolla’s name recognition (just as the Toyota Aqua became the Prius C in the United States, later on).

The first front-wheel-drive Corollas to arrive here were the E80 series cars that arrived as 1984 models, and even some of those were rear-wheel-drive AE86s (just to confuse everyone, the E80 platform supported both front- and rear-wheel-drive layouts).

This is an old-school rear-wheel-drive Corolla, complete with 3T-C pushrod engine. Horsepower was 73, but the curb weight just barely got over the ton mark.

The 3T-C didn’t make much power and it wouldn’t spin well, but it was harder to kill than post-nuclear-war mutant cockroaches. Someone had already bought the cylinder head by the time I got here.

This car doesn’t appear to be a top-trim-level SR5, but it’s loaded with extra-cost options anyway. Look, air conditioning!

There’s also a factory Fujitsu TEN AM/FM radio, which was serious audio hardware for a cheap car in 1980. Thieves actually stole these radios during the 1980s, which seems hard to believe today.

It appears that this car began its career in Washington D.C.

How many miles? We can’t say, because Toyota didn’t go to six-digit odometers in U.S.-market Corollas until 1982. The highest odometer reading I’ve found in a junkyard Corolla was 315,406, in a 1991 wagon. I suspect this car probably has better than 300,000 miles as well, but we’ll never know for sure.

This car appears to have been purchased new at a Virginia dealership in the D.C. suburbs, which fits with the Dulles Airport parking sticker. You never know, maybe the Bad Brains hauled their instruments in this car.

The sportier liftback and coupe got most of the advertising here.

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