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Compact Survivor: 1971 Toyota Corolla

Toyota first came to U.S. soil in 1966 and the Corolla model followed just two years after that. It was a fairly new product for Toyota at the time and is still being sold today. It eventually became the best-selling car in the world, beating out the VW Beetle, with sales averaging 1.5 million units a year in 150 countries. The seller’s car has had only three owners and was last registered in 2005. It’s in good shape and some work has been done to get it back on the road, but more is needed. Beaumont, California is where the car can be found and it’s available here on Facebook Marketplace for $12,000 OBO. Kudos to numskal for this tip!

In Japanese, Corolla means Karōra. The name was derived from Toyota’s tradition of using names derived from the senior Toyota Crown, with “corolla” being Latin for “small crown”. Earlier incarnations of the Corolla used rear-wheel drive, including the second generation which ran from 1970-74. Models offered were Standard, Deluxe and Hi-Deluxe. We’re not sure which bucket the seller’s car fits into, but a safe bet is in the middle. Two engines were offered in the U.S. models in this run, but we’re not sure which motor would be in the seller’s car: either a 1.2-liter I-4, 8-valve OHV at 73 hp, or a larger version of the same at 1.6-liters and 102 hp. Since the seller’s car has the Toyoglide automatic transmission, I’d bet on the larger engine or it would otherwise move like a slug.

The seller’s Corolla has 63,000 miles on it, with just 3,000 of them on the motor. When new, the car was purchased in Southern California and has stayed there the whole time, still wearing the selling dealer’s license plate wrapper. We don’t know how long ago the engine was worked on as the car has not been registered for the last 15 years. In order to get the car up and running again, the seller has redone the brakes and replaced the carburetor. The brakes will still need bleeding.

You don’t see Toyota sedans of this vintage on the road much these days. Not because they weren’t good cars, but because they were made to be used and then used some more. The body and interior both look to be in good shape with no signs of rust or dents and dings, although the paint could stand a good polishing. As these cars aren’t sought after by collectors, NADA is where you’ll find a resale value estimate and they’re on the low side because they’re just considered used cars. So, the seller getting his asking price is predicated on how badly the buyer will want one of these cars.


  1. Avatar photo alphasud Member

    Wow! I never thought I would see another one again. Good little cars but rusted out in a few years where I used to live. My parents first car was a 65 Corona and my dad liked it so much he bought a new 70 Corona Mark2 wagon. It was also his first car to have radial tires. Thanks for the memories!

    Like 7
  2. Avatar photo Fahrvergnugen Member

    While Grandpa had his ’70 Lesabre HT, Granny had a similar vintage Corona which would have fit in the trunk (OK, with the lid open). Haven’t seen one this nice in like forever.

    Like 4
  3. Avatar photo angliagt Member

    I bought a Corolla 1200 like this in 1975.It would
    get about 50 mpg on the freeway (speed limit was 55 mph),
    but would have to downshift on the steeper grades.
    Later,I had it painted a bright white (Corvette Can Am-
    White),& put the SR5 fender flares on it,leaving them black,
    with Shelby Libre-type wheels,& radial T/As,& eventually
    swapped out the 1200 for a 1600 (2TC).

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Laura

      I had one. No way would i get 50 mpg. Ever. Maximum was 33 mpg.

      Like 0
  4. Avatar photo angliagt Member

    This car has the 1200 (3K-C).I can only imagine
    how gutless it is with the automatic.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Miguel

      It is still fun to drive. I want a bunch of these simple cars in front of the house to drive.

      Like 0
  5. Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Nice! My first car was a 1971 Corolla two-door wagon and I’ve been looking for one for over a decade.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo SHIRLEY ANDERSON

      Are you still looking for one?

      Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Jerry

    I lived in So Cal for 33 yrs, just left in 2019 and I NEVER saw one of these……or hardly any pre-73 Japanese vehicle, which tells me they must have rusted out BAD even in dry So Cal weather!
    And I drove a LOT in Outside Sales for 15 years.

    Like 0
  7. Avatar photo David

    The Toyota’s of this vintage were good little cars. I had a ‘68 Corona fastback, blue with a white vinyl roof and black vinyl interior. It had a 4-speed and, believe it or not, an in-dash 8-track tape player. That little buggy could scoot and I really enjoyed it. Whoever owned it before me took great care of it and it never left me stranded.

    Like 3
  8. Avatar photo Steve R

    These are great looking cars, rarely seen today, especially in this condition. It appears to need nothing except for a drivetrain upgrade. Once this ad gets passed around and finds its way onto Japanese oriented car sites I’d bet it sells quickly.

    Steve R

    Like 1
  9. Avatar photo Billy1

    That pea-shooter exhaust screams: HP! Nothing an engine swap wouldn’t cure.

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Moparman Member

    Look at how good the slotted wheels fit this car! I, for one, am SO tired of the flat faced, multi-finned/spoked variations of wheels that are offered now!

    Like 5
  11. Avatar photo DON

    Toyota early car names all start with a “C” , Crown , Corona, Celica ,Carina, Corolla . The reason was, and this was from Toyota when I worked there in the late 70s , was that the founder of Toyota was told it would be good luck if he named his cars with a C .

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Mike

      Toyota Supra?

      Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Eric_13cars Member

    My 3rd car, and my only new car ever, was a 1972 Toyota Corolla coupe with the B16 engine (hemi 4). I had the 4 speed manual, and if it produced 102 hp, I never found them. While it was a good car overall, power was not its calling card. I put over 200K on it with the same engine. My GF at the time had a 1973 4 door with the 2-speed automatic and it was a dog. Mustard-colored and she wanted it painted. She went to Europe for a month and I had it painted a fire-engine red. It looked a lot better, but she never forgave me :-). In the early 80s I was shade-tree wrenching between professional careers and I bought and sold 5 or six of these after fixing them up. Made some nice coin on the deals. Followed it up buying a 75 Celica for $400 and put 100K on that B22 engine. Strong cars if you could keep them from rusting out. Not so much a problem in this part of the south (Piedmont rolling hills).

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Gord Preston

      Nice pic! My first car was a ’72 Corolla 1600 automatic, maybe the same yellow as yours. It was peppy enough, especially when I had stripped it down for painting (only the front seat left in). It did rust severely though, in Quebec, where rock salt was used liberally on the roads. Very solid mechanically.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo angliagt Member

      The 1600 was known as the 2 TC.

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo Eric_13cars Member

        Good catch. That’s right…I knew it didn’t sound exactly right. I sold it in 1988 for $50 to my next door neighbor…that I do remember :-)

        Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Eugene W.

    I believe Toyota arrived in the US in the 1950s. Does the name Toyopet ring a bell? They were slow and not too well made, and didnt sell well as a result. And no one liked the name either. So the name was changed to Toyota, from the family name Toyoda. The make got better over time, and the rest is history.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Rob Bradley

      Toyota Motor Sales president Shotaro Kamiya led the charge to introduce Toyotas to the United States as early as 1956 and after Toyota sent a few over for testing on American roads in late summer of 1957, the company began to devise strategies for selling the cars in the United States

      Like 0
  14. Avatar photo Nick

    @Russ Dixon Nothing is said about an engine swap in the ad, what it says is that the car has a 3K engine which was the eight-valve overhead valve 1.2L. A pretty powerful (for something so small) engine with around 70hp. Way better than any US 4cyl of the time.
    Great Corolla.

    Like 0
  15. Avatar photo Millenkneeil

    “The seller’s Corolla has 63,000 miles on it, with just 3,000 of them on the motor.” I dunno. Sounds like a lot of pushing.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Nick

      It doesn’t say that, it’s nothing to do with mileage or any engine swap. 3K is the type of engine in this Corolla. There were 2 engines available.The 3K-C (1200cc) or 2T-C (1600cc). It says that this car has a Toyoglide automatic and a 3K engine.

      Like 0
  16. Avatar photo Bigcat Member

    BF is getting closer to helping me find the 75 Corolla E-5 in yellow I put on the “Help Me Find” list on the site. Was my wife & my first car together. We were in Chicagoland at the time, bought is lightly used and had it Z-barted. Still started to rust in less than 4 yrs. Hoping to find a clean Cali car

    Like 0
  17. Avatar photo Greg Yancey

    I bought a new 71 Corolla 2 dr Sedan (not the coupe like this one) with the 1200/4spd. I believe it was 1749.00 plus tax and license in Richmond, California. It had 12″ wheels. The 1600 came out a few months later and they had 13″ wheels. Kept the car for a couple years until traded it in for a new 1974 Datsun B210 Fastback. They were both good cars.

    Like 2
  18. Avatar photo Milt

    My daily driver is an original survivor 1997 Corolla DX 5 speed! 323783 miles on the original engine! Loaded! It hauls A%% with that stick shift. Fun to drive! :).

    Like 0
  19. Avatar photo stillrunners

    They were what was needed in the early 70’s gas crisis. They held up well and once they hit the wrecking yards they were crushed out in spite – none were “put back” or saved.

    Little high on price but we will see if it sells for that .

    Like 0
  20. Avatar photo Millenkneeal

    Fun fact. The founder of the company, Mr Toyoda called his company Toyota. This allowed the name to be written in 8 pen strokes, 8 being a lucky number in Japan. My 1984 Celica paid homage to him in the name that was stamped on the brake fluid reservoir cover, TOYODA. It was the only reference to his name that I could find on my car

    Like 0

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