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Early Model Desert Find: 1974 Toyota Corolla

Toyotas from the late 1970s are no stranger to these pages, but I can’t recall the last time we spotted an early 1970s find like this 1974 Toyota Corolla. Autoweek wrote not too long ago that this vintage Toyota has the potential to be a collectible classic on the cheap, and we’re inclined to agree. Find this slightly tatty-but-honest Corolla here on craigslist in Los Angeles, where it’s listed for $4K. 

The listing for this car has already been taken down once and put back up with extra language warning against Nigerian princes and other funny business, and the price has also jumped, too. We’re guessing the original listing was priced far below market and the seller received more attention than expected. Yes, this coupe’s body is battered and sports mismatched paint throughout, but it will look surprisingly sporting when cleaned up. The previous listing called this Corolla a “desert find,” which would indicate dry storage conditions.

As a 1974 model, I believe this would be the end of the second generation E20 lineup of Corollas. These cars had lots of pretty chrome accents, with ornaments on the C-pillar and the original chrome wheel covers this car would likely have come with. The engine is the smaller 1.2L, 8V, four-cylinder making a robust 73 b.h.p., but it is thankfully paired to a manual transmission. The interior is sparse but the Corolla is also incredibly lightweight. Note the old-school Oregon plates still attached.

It does show some dents and dings, the worst of which is the driver’s fender. Overseas markets didn’t have to contend with our ugly safety bumpers, and I would absolutely source a set of slim chrome bumpers from a non-U.S. model if available. Like all Toyotas, a more sporting SR5 trim line was available but this example is clearly a base model; there’s nothing wrong with that, but we may opt for some period alloy wheels and chunkier rubber while we were addressing overdue maintenance and bodywork.


  1. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    You’re killin’ me, Jeff. My first car was a 1971 E20 Corolla 2-door wagon in red and even though it was painfully slow with the 1.2L engine I would love to find another one. I could not agree more on this being a future collectible, especially in a 2-door bodystyle like this with a 4-speed manual transmission. If it had the 1.6L engine with 100 hp it would be a no-brainer for thousands of people who are looking for a car like this right now. This one will most likely end up being heavily modified, I’m probably the only nerd on the planet who would restore it back to bone-stock spec.There’s a lot of financial room to restore this car given what nice examples are worth. Very nice find, sir.

    • Loco Mikado

      I had a ’69 2 dr sedan with the 1100cc 60hp engine with the 4spd. 12″ tires and 8″ drum brakes. It was fun to drive even if it wasn’t a powerhouse.

    • Patrick

      I’d be the second nerd to restore one. Loved mine

  2. Bubbasmooth

    Really? Even it was your 1st car, you must have learned, moved on. I guess every butt for a bench..

  3. grant

    The thing is, these are still around out here in decent numbers. And they’re just old used cars. Its pretty common to see buyers up from California hauling old Yodas and Datsuns south. I can almost guarantee the seller paid less than 1k for it.

  4. Luke Fitzgerald

    4K? Try 400, and I like ’em

  5. David Miraglia

    Pass, I am no fan of Toyota’s. Rust in peace.

    • audifan

      You are not a fan of Toyota’s (apostrophe) rust or anything you might not like or you are not a fan of Toyotas as in plural (no apostrophe).
      Basis grammar…….

      Like 1
      • grant

        *Basic grammar. If you’re going to correct him, be right…

        Like 1
  6. Tom S.

    How hard could it have been to lift the hood and take one more photo?

  7. Ralph

    $4K? Come on. That’s a neat oddity at around $1000-$1500 maybe.

  8. Frank

    Love it. Would be a fun project. He’s high at $4,000 for the shape it’s in. Here’s a ’74 SR5 that sold in June for $17,750.
    Gotta love CL…posted on L.A. Craigslist for a car in Oregon and the seller has a Hawaii phone number. Sweet!

  9. Datsuntech

    When I was 18 my brother gave me his 72 Corolla to drive as he had gotten a newer car. It was so rusted that the bottoms of the fenders were no longer attached so they flapped in the breeze. The front frame rail was rusted through at the steering box and it would make the whole front end start to shake at certain speeds sort of like the Dodge death wobble. 1.2litres of fury with a 4-speed that I once timed a 34 second 0-60. It had a top speed of an indicated 95 MPH that literally took minutes. I loved that car till my brother decided it was too unsafe for his little brother and took it to the crusher. If I recall correctly he got $50 for it.

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