Mini Hemi: 1972 Toyota Corolla Deluxe Coupe

043016 Barn Finds - 1972 Toyota Corolla - 1

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Well, this car doesn’t have a hemi in the same way that you think of a Hemi, as in a Chrysler product Hemi, but technically it has a hemi. This 1972 Toyota Corolla Deluxe Coupe is in “original” condition according to the owner, other than they think that it may have had new paint at some point; so it’s not 100% original. It’s listed on eBay in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for a current bid price of $5,700 Canadian ($4,550 US) and two days left on the auction. If this sells for less than $7,500 US I will probably sell all of my worldly belongings, shave my head, and move into a monastery for missing this bargain.

043016 Barn Finds - 1972 Toyota Corolla - 2

There is absolutely no way that you would ever know this, but my first car was a 1971 Toyota Corolla E20, but in a much cooler red, 2-door wagon, 4-speed configuration. Yes, this one is an automatic, unfortunately, but still, for $5,000 in today’s market this is a bone-chilling bargain whether you like vintage Japanese cars or not. This was the second-best selling car in the world at the time after the VW Beetle.

043016 Barn Finds - 1972 Toyota Corolla - 3

This car is painfully original, at least other than a possible repaint. It is also in painfully great condition. If a person is a purist on the same scale as I am, a car like this, even with the vinyl top and automatic, absolutely drives you crazy; in a good way! As we all know, the collector car hobby is mainly about the memories, and whether you have memories of a ’32 Packard, a ’57 Chevy, or a ’72 Toyota, nobody’s memories are any more important than anyone else’s are. Believe it or not, some people have great memories of these “throwaway cars”; as folks who don’t like them usually refer to vintage Japanese cars.

043016 Barn Finds - 1972 Toyota Corolla - 4

The seller says that the driver’s seat seam stitching is coming apart, but other than that I don’t see anything wrong; other than that automaticand the fuzzy dice! I know that a lot of folks can’t use a clutch pedal because of an injury or something, and it’s just my personal preference to shift for myself if at all possible, I don’t mean to always knock on automatic transmissions, three of our cars are automatics. The rear seat looks even nicer than the front does. The trunk is also perfect and loaded with paperwork, the original tools and jack, etc. One more: the underside is clean and even shows an original inspection sticker.

043016 Barn Finds - 1972 Toyota Corolla - 5

My Corolla wagon had the smaller 1,200cc four-cylinder which was underpowered; even at 17-years old I realized that. I used to race it on the ice-racing track on the frozen harbor in Duluth, Minnesota where I grew up and it was a fun car none the less; underpowered or not. This car with a 1,600cc, 102 hp engine would have been quite an upgrade with about 30 more hp than my 1,200cc car had! That may not sound like much, but it’s a 40% bump in horsepower. If this car had a 4-speed it would be all I could do to not go for it, but doing a 4-5-speed conversion wouldn’t be inexpensive and I wouldn’t personally want an automatic version, even one as almost museum-quality as this one appears to be. That’s incredibly shallow of me, I know. The reserve isn’t even met yet so the seller knows what this car is worth, I’m guessing that it’ll go for between $8,000 and $10,000 and even at that, it’ll be well-bought. It will never, ever go down in price.

I know that a lot of you aren’t fans of vintage Japanese vehicles; some even hate them, which continues to blow my mind because I still assume that any real car guy/gal likes every vehicle like I do, from a Model T to a Prius and everything in-between. But even if you’re not a fan of these cars, you have to be impressed at how this one has endured in such excellent condition over the last 44-years. If you are a fan, would you buy an automatic transmission car like this one, or would you hold out for a manual transmission version?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. splod

    It was also my first car, but mine was blue/green with the 4 speed. I beat Vegas & Pintos all day long in that car, and it was indestructible. Sadly, I don’t have the cash for this one or I would get it.

    Like 2
  2. Cassidy

    Beautiful car, if I had the money, I’d buy it for my daughter’s first car. Its fine with an automatic, you can’t get too picky with a car like this! I will argue with one point: it will go down in value if it ever hits something bigger that itself, all that tin will just fold into a very small box afterwards.

    Like 0
    • David

      Then why would you want it for your daughter’s first car?

      Like 0
  3. HoA Howard AMember

    I had a car just like this back in the 90’s. I believe I paid $50 bucks for it. I didn’t have it long, as I don’t really care for Asian cars, but I don’t hate them, just disappointed. Cars like this helped ruin Detroit. Still, they were great cars, and were much better than what Detroit offered ( Pinto, Vega, etc.) I don’t remember anything about a hemi, so it must have had the smaller motor as well. It had an odd feature. The choke was an automatic/manual. You’d slide the lever to choke when cold, and as the car warmed up, the choke came off automatically. Why not just have it ALL automatic? And Scotty, don’t shave your head. That falls out naturally. The monastery is up to you. Great find. NO ONE ever thought of saving one of these.

    Like 0
    • Mike H. Mike H

      Howard, I’m usually 100% in agreement with every word you say, but I’m going to offer a difference of opinion here:

      I don’t agree that the imports ruined Detroit. The domestic automakers had been putting out crappy cars since the end of WWII, and while the styling was great they offered little in the way of economy, build quality, or safety. The imports came along and showed the domestic car makers what a car COULD be, and their responses? Pinto, Vega, Dart/Valiant? Prior to that it was the Corvair, Falcon, and Valiant? Those weren’t horrible cos, but ask anyone who bought one new and they’ll happily speak of the crappy paint, poor panel fit, and unreliability. Factor into that the EPA stirring the pot through the seventies and you had a recipe for truly miserable cars.

      Yet the imports showed up and gave good economy, better quality, and lower emissions without all of the bolt on tomfoolery that the domestic automakers did. The Honda CVCC engine didn’t need a catalytic converter, it was so clean!

      My point here? That the arrival of the imports forced Detroit to up their game. Sure, the early front drivers of the eighties that the domestic makers cranked out by the 100,000’s weren’t anything great or remarkable, but they were an appropriate response to the imports, and they mainly came about as an answer to better cars available. Today, I’d say that the field is approximately even; Your standard Ford or GM product isn’t much better or worse than the offerings from Toyota or Honda, and I personally feel that the Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Mazda offerings are below the quality of ANY of the domestics.

      So I disagree that cars like this helped ruin Detroit. Complacency and the UAW (of which I am a former member – Local 125) along with drugs and poor employment choices is what helped to ruin Detroit. I’d say that as a result of the imports that they’re finally coming around.

      It just took a REALLY long time.

      Like 0
  4. Doyler

    Worth every penny

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  5. Eric Dashman

    Wow. Brings back the memories. My 3rd car, but first (and only) new car was a 1972 Corolla with the 1600 hemi (2T I think was the designation), with 4 speed. Mine was a white 2-door version (not the deluxe). It was the car that I learned the most about wrenching….head gasket replacement, clutch, brakes, carb rebuilds, etc.. I put about 160K on that car before selling it to a neighbor in the late 80s for $50. New it cost me $2000, with a $200/month loan that took 2 years to pay off. I drove the hell out of it and it owed me nothing when I sold it. Spending most of its life in North Carolina kept the tin worm at bay. In the early 80s, I bought and sold a half dozen of them to make some extra cash, while still keeping my own. My girlfriend at the time had a 1973 4 door 2 speed automatic. It was this ugly mustard color and when she went to Europe for 3 weeks I had it painted a fire engine red. I thought it looked good, but she wasn’t too pleased with the color choice. My bad.

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  6. Gary Gary

    I work in the fork lift industry and to this day Toyota still uses this engine as their bread & butter engine. It’s known in the industrial world as the 4Y engine. I’ve seen and worked on some of these Toyota Lifts that have between 23k-25k hours on them. By that time the basic fork lift as a whole is really beat, but those engines just keep running. I’d say it’s one of the best engines used in the industry today. My first car that I learned to drive in was a 1969 Toyota Crown 4-speed.

    Like 0
  7. audifan

    Like with so many vintage Japanese cars, the automatic saved it from the dumb “modifications”.

    Like 0
  8. jim s

    the first toyota prius ( 1997 ) is just 6 years away and the first honda insight ( 1999 ) is just 8 years away from antique tags ( 25 year rule )! after all these years vw and toyota are still fighting for the # 1 spot world wide. great find.

    Like 0
  9. Jay

    My first car was a 1972 corolla wagon 4 speed. It was yellow and I had about 10 kids in it one night after a football game in the fall of 1980. It was fun to drive.

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  10. Jubjub

    Back in the late ’70s, my sister got a ride to and from college in one of these regularly. Even had the vinyl top and Toyoglide but it was red…faded red like all of them were.

    This seller had an absolutely gorgeous Alfa Berlina a few months back. I hope it was as nice as it looked. Remembered this driveway and seeing the Corolla in the background in pic or two.

    Like 0
  11. John

    I too am a old Toyota lover! As I said on here before, I bought a 1980 Corolla in 1990 with 100k on it for $600. Put another 100k on it an sold it in 2001 for $500. Also during that 10 year time span I bought a dozen other corollas and fixed them up and resold them. They were very dependable cars and fairly easy to work on. Unlike other cars, Toyota left you room to wiggle a wrench or socket down in the motor to remove a part and not have to struggle too much.
    Just this year a friend of mine came upon a 1980 Corolla with 44k original miles on it. I looked it over top to bottom and would say the miles are original. It was from Cali and driven to New Jersey where the original owner eventually passed and his family sold it. Never had any rust. I offered him 5k on the spot for it and he just laughed, not for sale he said. Maybe one day when he needs the $$.

    Like 0
  12. JohnMember

    I owned a 1971 Pinto with the 2000cc (as we referred to it then, not two-liter) engine, four speed, optional front disc brakes and A-70 Polyglas tires and I can guar-double-antee you that no Toyota short of a 2000GT would outrun that car, and a Corolla would fall over on its side trying to keep up with a Pinto on a winding road. The 2.3-liter smogged engine of the later Pinto was no match for the 2000cc, and the bumpers ruined the cars aesthetically and dynamically. But the ’71 Pinto was the best of the small sedan (even if 2-door) of that year.

    That said, the Corolla was the car that killed the Beetle.

    Like 0
  13. John Leonard

    That engine bay sure looks familiar. A friend in high school had a faded gray version of this. His had a stick shift. I do remember he ran the windshield washer outlet into the air cleaner and down the carb inlet. Then filled the reservoir with Marvel Mystery oil. Smoke screen on demand!

    – John

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  14. Glen

    I was trying to figure out how any car of this age could be in such good shape in Toronto. I think for every inch of snow, an inch of salt is used! Then I read it is from Florida. Amazing how something so basic/ boring can be so interesting. I like it

    Like 0
  15. stillrunners

    loveitloveitloveit….had friends beat these to death – because they didn’t know better and it’s what daddy bought them…..just sayin’……

    Like 0
  16. Mark P

    Ya, who’s tired of Chrysler / Dodge and their hemi, it’s a fairly common engine feature these days. The Theta 2.4L in my Sonata is a hemi. Actually it’s got a feature I don’t think the Dodge hemi has, direct injection like a diesel. Almost makes the same HP as the 4.6L in my old Mustang.

    Like 0
  17. carlos diaz

    still for sale

    Like 0
  18. William Lohman

    My first brand new car was a Toyota Corolla with the 3kc 1200 cc engine,4 speed,great car,got 44 mpg on regular gas.Bought it for 1,955(payments,was in college at the time).This brings back memories for sure.

    Like 0
  19. Gary A Matusow

    I thought I was the only nut that kept my original 72 Corolla Deluxe Cpe that has a 4 speed manual transm., white and is running now but needs some tidying up. Body totally solid w/ no rust exc. a tiny hint at the bottom of the car on the sides but purely superficial. Was going to finish it up and wasn’t sure what value it had but it actually has only 35K on it believe it or not! Loved the car and was my 1rst car w/ manual, perfect trunk, undercarriage.
    Interested in other’s thoughts/comments. I’m trying to find a mechanics auto manual and some other nick-nack parts, so chime in if interested!
    Gary M.

    Like 0
  20. Brian Shaw

    My first new car was a 72 coupe with the 1600 hemi push rod 2TC! Loved it.
    Mustard yellow. Still have dreams about it. I hammered it for over 100,000
    miles and it was an anvil. No Pinto ever hung with it. Pinto owners who
    think the Pinto had stronger accelleration had to be running with 1200cc
    versions, not the 1600cc 2TC. I’ve had 300ZX turbos (Z-32), MR-2s, including
    the Supercharged, MKIV Supra TT 6sp, Porsches… but I keep thinking I want
    one of these again… but it has to be a 4 (or 5) speed … and please… no vinyl
    top. Yes, they looked good in red… but there was something about that yellow!

    Like 0

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