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Holy Grail Drift King: 1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S

070916 Barn Finds - 1985 Toyota Corolla Sport GTS - 1

This is a holy grail car for those folks who are into Japanese vehicles. The 1985 Toyota Celica GT-S seen here is in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, about 5 hours north of Seattle. This one is worth any import fees or duties that will be added on at the border. It’s listed on eBay with a curiously-unmet opening bid of $5,300. The seller mentions that their reserve is $6,000.

070916 Barn Finds - 1985 Toyota Corolla Sport GTS - 2

Affectionately and officially referred to as the AE86, this is the car that that almost everyone who’s into Japanese cars wants and the one that almost everyone modifies once they find one. These cars are so rare in stock condition that I’m surprised to even see one for sale in bone-stock spec. It’s the last rear-wheel-drive Corolla, along with the AE85, and they were only offered in North America from 1983 to 1987. They’re one of the most popular cars for modifying into drifting monsters, like this one on YouTube. I’m surprised that this one doesn’t have an opening bid yet, frankly. Being a bone-stock guy, I would restore this one to how it looked when it left the factory, but I’m in the vast minority on that viewpoint.

070916 Barn Finds - 1985 Toyota Corolla Sport GTS - 3

Maybe there isn’t an opening bid yet because this one could use a bit of bodywork. The seller says that it’s always been in British Columbia in an area that’s defined as a desert and hasn’t been driven in the winter. But, there is some rust to work through, and the entire body would need to be gone through. But, again, I’m surprised because 90% of the buyers of this car would totally modify it anyway, inside and out, including a non-factory paint scheme.

070916 Barn Finds - 1985 Toyota Corolla Sport GTS - 4

This car has a great looking interior, too bad there isn’t a great looking 3/4 photo of the driver’s area or any that show the entire dash, most of them are close-up snippets, which are nice, but it’s always nice to have overall shots. The seats look good with maybe a couple of small areas to work on, but the pattern is pretty cool, in a 1980s color-block way. The seller is the third owner, having recently purchased it from someone who owned it since 1987.

070916 Barn Finds - 1985 Toyota Corolla Sport GTS - 5

Ok, this one does need a bit of help under the hood, too. The interior may be the best-looking area of the car, everything else needs some help. I bet that a couple of weekends of detailing under the hood and the engine could look almost like new again. This is the first year for Toyota’s 1.6L 4A-GE, DOHC 16-valve Inline-4 AFM Multiport Fuel Injection engine with 112 hp; it was in the GT-S only for 1985. I know that 112 hp doesn’t sound like a lot, but for a 2,200 pound car in 1985 that was a very respectable amount of power. And, also considering that the 5.0L V8 Mustang had 175 hp and the 5.7L V8 Corvette had 205 hp, Toyota worked wonders to come up with 112 hp out of just 1.6L. Combine that with rear-wheel-drive and a 5-speed manual, and they had a winner. Which is what I think this car is, a winner. I know that a lot of the Barn Finds readers aren’t fans of Japanese cars, and it would be naive of me to think that I’ll ever sway any of those folks into liking a car like this. But, for those folks who are fans, would you drive this car as it is now, restore it back to like-new condition, or would you turn it into a drift-king?


  1. Schwag

    I love it. Yes, some rust as noted, but these have been getting so hard to find in stock form since Initial D and drifting became popular here in the US about 15 years ago.

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  2. Blueprint

    Restore! My first car was a 1980 Corolla SR-5 and it would wag its tail with 70-ish hp. *sigh* Toyota used to build fun cars :(

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  3. ZeitGeist

    This is one vehicle that, (IMO) ,actually looked better with a body kit installed.

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  4. Bobsmyuncle

    If all this post does is persuade someone to watch Initial D for the first time it will have served its purpose well.

    It appears VERY clean. I’m not a Japanese car fan but this is a great opportunity for someone.

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  5. Steven C

    I wish i had bought every one of these i could find in the 90’s when they were $400 so i could sell them today.

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  6. Joe

    No reserve now. Minimum opening bid of $5300 with no takers yet. Would need to know the additional costs of legal paperwork, import fees and taxes for getting the car into the USA.

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    Back in the day I remember seeing these and never paid much attention. Times change. Awesome find. Can’t help but notice the temp registration in the rear window. Could be quick flip or more problems. While repairing the rust I would at least do a body kit and wheels.

    Don’t think it is much of an issue at all to get it across. There are transporters who bring across all the time. They will certainly know the correct paperwork needed to do the job or risk being stuck. You would pay the taxes once it is registered here in the US

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  8. Wiley Robinson

    This was a new car when I was in high school. It wasn’t exactly a “cool car” then other than having a new car. I can remember seeing long rows of these at the local dealer and nobody I knew got excited by them. However, “drifting” back then was a term only people into hillclimbing and road racing used and it had nothing to do with what is drifting today.

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  9. Steve B

    Drove the coupe version of one of these from 86 (my first new car) thru 98. Fun car, rear end was loose as a goose. If I found a cheap beater today I’d LeMons the crap out of it.

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  10. PRA4SNW

    Same experience as most here: I had a friend who bought one of these new. Not a car guy, probably bought it because it looked kind of sporty. I never recall him driving it aggressively at all.

    Times change, I guess.

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  11. CarNut from Winnipeg Member

    Want it now!
    I’d be willing to let my 86 Prelude go to make room. Maybe.

    Like 0

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