What Might Have Been: 1990 Toyota Corolla Harley Car

Here at Barn Finds, we pride ourselves in finding the rarest vehicles the market has to offer.  We feel that these important vehicles deserve a home in the garage of the most dedicated enthusiasts the hobby has to offer.  While much of the automobile industry’s history is well known, every once in a while someone stumbles upon a rare prototype of some sort.  Studying one of these unique, unknown gems makes you contemplate the “what if…” scenarios that could have changed the face of motoring.  This time, I think we have set the bar a little higher in regards to rare discoveries.  Take a gander at this 1990 Toyota Corolla Harley Car found on craigslist in Brunswick, Georgia for the bargain price of $1,500.

The last time I was in a Harley-Davidson dealership, I didn’t see one of these.  It could be because all the good Harleys are always on back order.  Or, it could be that this is a rare prototype from the time Harley collaborated with Toyota in a joint venture project.  If it is a prototype, I can see the influences of both great companies in this rare car.  Of course, you would have the durable and reliable Corolla platform to start with.  Harley’s part is obviously the wind in your face experience so common to Harley riders worldwide.  Unfortunately, the seller doesn’t give us much information as to what is under the hood.  My guess is Harley’s EVO engine, which was produced during that time frame.  These were good engines, but I wonder if the four wheeled body would help with the vibration issues that destroyed batteries on a regular basis in the two wheeled models of the time.

As stated previously, we have no information as to what lies under the hood.  I don’t think that the mufflers on the hood are functional, as they are mounted backwards.  Perhaps this model has no sound abatement devices attached to it.  I have heard that loud pipes save lives.  The hood ornament is distinctive and ornate, but the hood has seen better days.  My guess is that it was damaged in some sort of crash testing.  I think I see a logo on the grille.  One can only speculate, but maybe it is like the Chrysler-Maserati logo, where the Maserati symbol is held hostage inside the Pentastar Chrysler logo.  Just imagine a Toyota circle logo with a Harley Davidson logo yearning to break free from its Japanese captor.

Perhaps this beautiful creation’s most distinctive feature was its downfall.  The last successful four door convertible was made by Lincoln in the 1960s.  These types of open air more doors were very successful in the pre World War II era, but they never captured the imagination of the modern motorist.  Open four doors are rather labor intensive in regards to putting up the top.  The type of weather protection this collaboration would have used is not mentioned.   It could be a Phaeton with side curtains, or it could be a convertible sedan with roll up windows.  However, my bet is on these never having a top at all if they made it to production.  Harley riders are a tough lot, and the best of them ride in all manner of weather.  Why dilute the experience with an ungainly top?

The real problem with more door convertibles, however, is structural rigidity.  When you take away the top, it makes it a lot harder for vehicles to pass crash tests.  Factor into that that the Toyota Corolla is a unibody type vehicle, and everybody knows that vehicles of this construction require a lot of structural reinforcement when you remove the top.  Once again, the government kill joys probably insisted on crash testing these if they made it into production due to their four wheels.  Two wheeled vehicles are, however, not subject to crash testing.  If they could have made this concept work with two wheels, these pioneering partner companies could have changed the world.

The owner does tell us that this vehicle has 140,000 miles, and that it runs great.  For me, that just validates the idea that this could have been the best of both worlds: Toyota reliability and Harley adventure.   If produced, I am sure it would be a hit.  Just imagine the options that could have been offered, such as wire wheels, saddlebags, and those cool leather tassels.  People love the freedom that motorcycles offer, but they love taking their friends with them on their journeys.  It is sad to see that only one of these was built, but it does my heart good to see that the sole survivor of what could have been a game changing class of vehicles is still warming hearts and helping people get sun burns in beautiful coastal Georgia.

By the way, would you be mandated by law to wear a helmet when riding in this vehicle?

 

(Yes Virginia, this is satire.  Even though the car exists and is for sale, the above is not to be considered as an example of the author’s automotive knowledge.)

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Adam T45 Staff

    Don’t laugh. If Toyota can collaborate with Yamaha, then Harley is definitely not out of the question.

  2. dgrass

    I drove a Z-24 convertible once that was the product of the back half and front halves of two cars brought together. I would imagine this car would have the same rigidity as the Z-24 did, but with more doors to shut after every bump.

  3. That Guy

    This is one possible outcome when a biker says, “Hold my beer and watch this!” 😄😄

  4. Ken Carney

    What the hell is this thing anyway?!!! Whatever they were smokin’ when
    they built this car, I want some! Reminds me of the time I borrowed the
    350 V8 out of my Mom’s new Caprice and stuffed it into a Chevy Vega
    for a street race while my parents were out of town. Many many cans
    of beer were consumed to make that whole thing happen. After beating
    the other car by half a car length in the big race, we put everything back
    into Mom’s car with a few days to spare. The only issue being the slight
    exhaust leak on the right side manifold. Point is, there had to be either
    alcohol or some other brain killing substance involved in this build.
    You might be able to use it as a gag car in a parade, but don’t do it at
    Sturgess!

    • Turbo

      This sounds highly unlikely. But people doubt me when I tell them about the time I put a turbo out of my uncle’s semi on the lawn tractor when my parents were out of town for a long weekend. We did burnouts until we shredded the tires and the steel rims dug trenches in the street in front of my parents home. When they got back I told them the truth and they forgave me after seeing what that engine could do propelling my fathers hang glider into outer space. And then we tried to beat a v8 vega in ‘the big race’ but the engine exploded and we lost by half a length.

  5. LAB3

    Biker culture was changing quick about 1990, you where more likely to meet a doctor or lawyer on a new one than someone who actually works for a living. Had this project been done or even suggested just a few years earlier the person responsible would have been liable to experience a forced enlargement of their anus.

  6. Chris Kennedy

    Ummm, Ahhh… Forget it, my mother taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

  7. grant

    Why do people do stuff like this?

    • Adam T45 Staff

      Substance abuse is the first answer that springs to mind, followed quickly by boredom, insanity and possibly the overwhelming desire to prove somebody wrong (“I’ll bet you can’t do that!”).

    • Charles

      The same who say: “Watch what happens when I do this!

  8. Jeffro

    Not enough bourbon to even make this look good or want to ride in it.

  9. Todd Fitch Staff

    I admire the commitment; formulate a vision and go for it. lol The choice of a Toyota is especially rich since some (not all) Harley owners would die in the desert before accepting a ride on a Japanese bike. If this car was stock we would never have seen it. Maybe the backwards mufflers on the hood are like backwards Deer Alerts, except for Hogs, attracting them from miles around as you drive. Thanks Jeff!

    • Jeepster

      Good one Todd !
      “Harley owners would die in the desert before accepting a ride on a Japanese bike” And most of the Hardley riders have no idea that their company was one of the 1st to outsource after the 1992 Clinton China trade agreement !
      Until recently, 90 percent of the accessories were made by the commies.

      I used to enjoy riding with my neighbor to our big local dealer in midTennessee she on her Hardley & me on one of several vintage BMW’s. Point out loudly, look I found something that is actually made in the USA ! whew talk about bad looks when you tell them where all their gear is manufactured. HaHa

  10. Mark m.

    Take a gander , or a grinder to it!!

  11. St. Ramone de V8

    Thanks, Jeff! I needed a good laugh. Nothing says Harley more than a Corolla!

  12. Superdessucke

    Someone with a Corolla sedan once got gift cards to Pep Boys, Home Depot and Binny’s one Christmas and….

  13. erikj

    What the heck (I would rather use a better Word for this!!). WIERD. I think that some drugs where involved with this creation as will be with a buyer,if there is one.

  14. Howard A Member

    http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/73/730ed0b8d409006c5b809184cd93cbc35605682618f1740d7f38eb5c3ce36150.jpg
    This doesn’t make a lick of sense. HD and Toyota are about as far apart as you could get ( even though, many HD parts are made in Japan,,,GASP) HD bikers are still very opinionated, and while they “let me ride with them” with my GoldWing, I really have to follow a few paces back. I found, GoldWings are ok, but that’s about it, no “crotch rockets” or “ring-dings” allowed. Honda’s never lead a pack of HD’s. I’d have to think something like this, would only angry up the blood. Something Pee-Wee Herman might bring to a biker bar.
    Also, while I don’t advocate drug use, I really don’t care for when people blame drugs for these unusual creations. Straight people do crazy stuff too.

    • LAB3

      Ain’t nothin wrong with a Goldwing, you’re more likely to see me on mine than the 83 Low Rider I bought new right off the showroom floor. If they give you some gruff about where in the pack you “belong” just rotate your right wrist downward a bit, there’s nothing much they’re going to be able to do in that situation!

  15. Joe Nose

    If this ‘thing’ has 140k, then at 139k it went topless, and at 1369.5k the owner took the roof off. Any earlier and the owner would have been driving a banana splitmobile.

  16. Dan

    You should have not put the disclaimer on the end of the article. That way you would find out very quickly which commenters have no sense of humor.

  17. Allan

    Props to Jeff, for being able to write an entire book about this thing.
    Short story, novella or otherwise though, the car is a mess.

  18. Joe Backer

    When are the DUB cars coming to this site? Glad I didnt spend 100 dollars to see this car early. This site is starting to be joke.

  19. Joe Howell

    It’s a self propelled Harley Davidson beer tub. Fill it with ice and beer (a gun to shoot drain holes shouldn’t be a problem in that crowd) and let the party begin. No Harley guy would turn down a cold beer from a Japanese car butchered into a Harley Davidson cooler. As a Harley rider I find it both amusing and good use of a Toyota.

  20. Steve Visek

    Seeing this is like seeing your grandmother naked.

  21. KevinW

    Probably open a door one day, and not be able to close it again. Body sag is just a matter of time.

  22. Chebby

    This is great. Sell those chrome mufflers, paint the car with a roller, and enjoy the rest of the summer doing stupid stuff.

  23. John

    There should be a three-day waiting period and background checks for all purchases from Harbor Freight.

  24. DonC

    Great article! I’m still laughing. I have a Harley and I have a car. And they don’t merge. Like others here, I’d like a bag of whatever they were smokin! Oh, and I’m a former Honda Magna driver, so you Goldwing folks are always welcome within the pack. It’s all about the joy and freedom. As for the car, I like the beer cooler idea the best!

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