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Inconspicuous Commuter: 1990 Toyota Corolla

031016 Barn Finds - 1990 Toyota Corolla 1

This isn’t an exciting car or a fancy car or a fast car. But, if a person is looking for a commuter car with great reliability and one that you didn’t have to worry about dings and dents on, this might be worth a look. This 1990 Toyota Corolla is on Craigslist in Manassas, VA and it has a low asking price of $900.

031016 Barn Finds - 1990 Toyota Corolla 3

This sixth generation Corolla, known as the E90, would be a great under-the-radar commuter car. Sure, it has a little rust starting to show and the bumpers have the classic big-city-rash on them from parallel parking. But, that’s exactly what I would want if I drove into a big city every day and parked on the street or in a parking ramp. I see white cars like this with the rattle-can touch-ups all the time, this one should have a few more years in it for commuter duty.

031016 Barn Finds - 1990 Toyota Corolla 2

You’re not going to stand out in the crowd here, but that’s what I like when I’m in a group of cars all going a bit over the speed limit. It’s not a red car and it’s not a sports car, but it also doesn’t shout “Look at me, I have a fast car!”, which is a good thing when you’re just driving to work and back. The seller says that “there have been no mechanical troubles since I have owned the car (going on 8+ years)” and being a Toyota owner myself, I believe it.

031016 Barn Finds - 1990 Toyota Corolla 4

The interior is filled with classic 1990s velour but it’s in great condition. Look at those seat bolsters, and on a Corolla sedan, no less!

031016 Barn Finds - 1990 Toyota Corolla 5

This looks like the 102 hp 1.6 engine, a model of reliability and with 235,000-ish miles, it’s proven to be so. The beauty of this car is that it also comes with a 5-speed manual transmission, making for a fun runner and it’s a surprisingly peppy combination with this engine. It also returns great gas mileage, which is always nice. I had a Saturn SL-1 sedan with 100 hp and a 5-speed and it was a great commuter car.

031016 Barn Finds - 1990 Toyota Corolla 6

As I said, this most definitely is not an aspirational car – your son or daughter won’t have a poster of a 1990 Corolla sedan on their bedroom wall. But, for those of us who like to shift our own gears and don’t mind a few dings and dents on our commuter car because we may have another nicer one back at home, this might be worth looking at. You won’t have to worry about parking lot dings or a runaway shopping cart collision here, and at $900 it’s a steal. Has anyone had an inconspicuous commuter car like this Corolla?




  1. Avatar photo Nessy

    Oh come on now guys. A 90s Corolla daily driver belongs on Barn Finds? Still enjoy the site and I understand all your hard work and time that is put into this site but some of the cars over the last month or so are kind of reaching for the sky.

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  2. Avatar photo Chris in Nashville

    I am not sure what you guys are smoking but I am calling the cops because you guys are quickly ruining Barn Finds and that should be a crime!

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    • Avatar photo Howard A Member

      Ruining Barn Find’s???? No way. They do take submissions from the readers, you know. Granted, this may be a bit of a stretch, but I like the diversity.

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo Barry T

        I agree with you Howard. It is nice to see a car that does not look like a pile of rust for a change.

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  3. Avatar photo Trickie Dickie Member

    Y A W N……………..Excuse me guys, I am leaving to go downtown to watch haircuts at the barber college.

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  4. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Sadly, with 235g’s, this car has lived it’s useful life, and will probably be crushed into a cube. With that kind of miles, everything that was replaced at 150g’s, is going to need attention again, and very few people will buy a car with that kind of miles. I too had a Saturn (SL-2) and that had 230g’s on it, and still was a good runner, but many of the gadgets began to fail, and I didn’t trust it. I feel, any car that has over 200g’s on it, is about all you are going to get, and you’re already pushing it. ( except, of course, a Subaru Outback with 325g’s) Sorry, but it’s probably “Sayonara” to the little Corolla, you served us well.

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  5. Avatar photo David Member

    I’m glad to see these comments. There are more and more cars here that have nothing to do with barn finds or even survivors. I see more interesting cars out there than I can ever write up, so why the “good used car”? Focus is not just the name of a compact Ford!

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  6. Avatar photo Rich

    Sorry, but have to agree with everyone. This is nowhere near BF kind of car worth talking about. You raised the bar here with the semi and car hauler, lol.

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  7. Avatar photo Fred

    I like seeing a variety of cars, but Craigslist in every town is full of cars just like this one. If it had 17,000 miles, maybe.

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  8. Avatar photo Joe B

    This would be great if it was April 1st.

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  9. Avatar photo Jamie Staff

    Ok, folks, I hear you loud and clear. A few words of explanation:

    1) I’m filling in for Josh editing…my first time at it and I probably should have held this one back. We do try to feature the submissions we get, though.

    2) Give Scotty a break, he’s new and has written up some really neat stuff.

    3) Blame me :-) Sorry. Now, back to your regular programming, we have some neat posts coming up shortly.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Scotty G Staff

      You’re too kind, Jamie. No, this one is on me. This car probably belongs in a barn but not on Barn Finds, my apologies, all.

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      • Avatar photo jim s

        your both doing great. fun to see how people reacted to this one.

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  10. Avatar photo Daren

    Gonna throw a positive note on this. Kinda cool to see a car I remember watching come off the truck when I worked at the toyota dealership still up and running. I do not think you can ruin barn finds, cars are cars. Nice write up, fun memories for me, and… If you do not like the car, why look at it! :) Just sayin….

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    • Avatar photo JCW

      I agree if you don’t like skim over to the next one.

      Like 0
  11. Avatar photo JimA

    I’m a bit dismayed at the selection Barnfinds is choosing to post since the contributors are coming from all over now. 80’s, 90’s and newer should have never been considered here.

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  12. Avatar photo grant

    I’ll forgo my usual snark about used cars on this site, just simply because this one is priced fairly for a work beater, and it isn’t trashed. Does it fit here? No. But if it was in portland I would go look at it, as I’m looking for a 1k ish work car. As far as Scotty’s choice of submissions, give him a break. I’ve made some comments about cars, but the guy is new. He writes concisely and with insight, let him find his groove.

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  13. Avatar photo Bobsmyuncle

    Quite presumptuous of anyone to dictate what the guys include on… hold on wait for it…wait…THEIR site. . Yes their site that WE visit.

    I suppose you complain that the chicken is dry when you are invited to someone’s house for dinner?

    Since when has the decade of origin been dictated, let alone the make and model?

    True barn finds are slim to none, so take the name as a tongue-in-cheek and enjoy the show.

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo John

    Yeah you guys are being a little hard on the poster. As you scrolled down today’s list of BF you can see what kind of car is next, can you not? So if it’s something that you don’t like or approve of in the heading just move on to the next one. I personally like Toyotas, am I going to say that this one should or should not be posted here, no I am not going to comment on that.
    BUT I will say that all the Toyotas I had were very reliable cars to drive. Something that I require when picking out a car. I bought a 1980 Corolla in 1990 with 100k on it for $600. Drove it another 100k until 2001 with very few problems and resold it for $550. That guy drove it for a few months and got hit in the rear, took the motor out and re did the head and put it in another body, was still running as recent as a year ago. Anyway let me see what else is posted on here today!

    Like 1
  15. Avatar photo jim s

    i like it. looks like a cheap beater/autocross car to me. drive it until something costly breaks then part it out. interesting find

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  16. Avatar photo bluzemn1

    you have got to be kidding me I can’t believe you would post this

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  17. Avatar photo bluzemn1

    so long to barn finds it’s been fun

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    • Avatar photo Bobsmyuncle

      Don’t let the door hit ya…

      Like 1
  18. Avatar photo grenade

    Mistakes aside, great interesting site. This car is absolute junk. I’m a Toyota fan having done a half dozen MR2 Lexus V6 swaps- I love the reliability, but this little thing? Yeah, even I say “keep that $hit to yourself”… Big hugs though!

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  19. Avatar photo bob

    What Barn Finds has presented us with is an economical car that is efficient, reliable once set straight using dirt cheap parts, often from a junkyard or Ebay and capable of 500,000 miles or more for $900. Better to spend $2000 on a better one and put 750,000 on it.

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  20. Avatar photo AMCFAN

    I cannot believe what a bunch of idiots! I do NOT see a problem with a 1990 anything. I am a car guy so if it has four wheels I am good. With this site if it has rust and wheels missing even better.

    Each day we are presented with multiple new cars to look at and comment on. I love cars. I also like learning about cars and the stories people share about them. What I don’t like is hearing a bunch of wining bitches. This is a unique site. I have an appreciation for it and glad to be able to kick back at the end of the day to find out whats new.
    Hopefully it will be around for a long time. No need to beat up the moderators for presenting something different. It’s called diversity. If this site changed and showed what the typical 10 people want to see everyday what fun would that be? No different then those brand specific “collector or muscle car forums” That cover the web. No thanks I know where they are….with the same 10 people who know it all.

    The Toyota Corolla that is featured is one of the cars that changed the American Automobile industry. Regardless if you like it or not it commands a little respect. Because of cars like this we have BETTER cars today, I believe this little car still has plenty of life left. If I needed a work beater I wouldn’t have an issue with it at all. The 1.8 should get 34-36 MPG. Has plenty of low end power. If I am not mistaken also has a timing chain. No need to worry though. Despite the condition because of the name plate on the car will find a new home if it has not already. Good to see it here.

    Thank you Barn Finds please do not change anything.

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    • Avatar photo MountainMan

      Have to agree 100%!

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  21. Avatar photo Jesse Staff

    Good job Scotty! Who would have thought that a crappy old Toyota would get everyone so excited?

    Guess what guys? We are all getting older! This car is over 25 years old and now qualifies for collector car plates in many States. I know it’s weird to think, but it’s true.

    Who defined the phrase “barn find” anyway? Some guys think a car actually has to be found in a barn to qualify. Others say it has to be built before a certain day. Some claim that it has to be all-original. A few even try to tell me that only American cars should be considered. I doubt people get this emotional when Hot Rod Magazine features newer cars on the cover, but I guess that is part of what makes Barn Finds so much fun!

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo grant

      I love this site. I check it daily, cause I like old and interesting cars. I think most people don’t think of the commuter cars from this era as being particularly interesting. They were mass produced and built well, and a ton of them in the non salt states are still around. This one here is like others I’ve mentioned. It’s going to make someone a great commuter, or perhaps a kids first car. Anyway, these are just my ruminations. If Jesse or Josh or anyone who submits reads this, please keep doing what you do. I will continue to enjoy what my most recent ex called car porn, and the lively debate that usually follows.

      Like 0
  22. Avatar photo Jay Harris

    My 1998 Toyota Corolla gets 38 MPG combined. I also paid $900 for mine. The five speed and the 1.4 L is a reliable combination. Will break 257,000 miles this morning from our 45 mile commute great car wouldn’t part with it for twice what I paid.

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  23. Avatar photo JohnM

    Blows me away how many people will voluntarily click on something on someone else’s website which is providing them with free content…..strictly for the purpose of complaining about the free content upon which they voluntarily clicked.

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  24. Avatar photo Keith

    How do we go from that BMW Barn Find up in Canada to this? Anyway….these were all over my high school parking lot back in the early 90’s. Haven’t seen one since and haven’t missed them either. HOWEVER, ironically since this is a 1990 you COULD roll this at your local car show. Just sayin’……………

    Like 0

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