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Project Hot Hatch: 1987 Toyota Corolla FX16-GTS

When you think of 1980s hot hatches, it’s easy to focus solely on the likes of the Volkswagen GTI and the Honda Civic. However, Toyota was a serious player in this space as well, with models that included a turbocharged Celica with all-wheel drive and this, an FX16-GTS. The hotted-up Corolla isn’t seen very much anymore, and this one appears to be an unmolested example in need of some basic R&R. Find it here on craigslist for the dirt cheap price of $1,999.

That is a smoking deal if you haven’t already deducted as much. Even for a project car, under $2,000 is hard to pull off these days on any car worth owning. Plus, this is one of those models that I personally feel still has some growth potential – some, not much – but enough that I don’t believe you will lose your shirt on a car like this, even accounting for the improvements that will have to be made. The seller notes that the rust behind the rear bumper is minor and he has all the parts needed to make the repair. The rest of the Corolla appears quite solid.

The heart of the GT-S-branded Toyotas in the 1980s was the venerable 16-valve, 4AGE engine, which was a tuner’s delight back in the day. Easily swappable into other Toyota models, the engine isn’t so much of a screamer as it’s simply the kind of mill that punches above its weight.  The seller notes you could buy this FX16 solely to swap the engine into another chassis, but it deserves better than that for a fate. Given how few are left, I hope the next owner considers a modest restoration of this forgotten hot hatch.


  1. Nelson C

    These weren’t a common sight in Michigan to begin with. I’ve always been attracted to small purposeful cars like this. Dispite my size the architecture of cars in the 80s allowed easy entry and exit and room to operate the controls. I miss the old days.

    Like 7
  2. Bob S

    I remember these quite well, and today are about as rare as hens teeth, so I would put it back on the road, not use it as a donor. I do ding it though for having an automatic, kinda takes the fun factor out of it.

    Like 6
  3. AutoArcheologist AutoArcheologist Member

    My Dad had one of these. Bought it because he needed a car and they had one on the lot. He didn’t realize how sporty it was. He did enjoy it and so did I when I drove it. If this car was closer, I’d jump on it, but shipping across the country would be more than the asking price. Bummer.
    Sounds like a very good deal.
    This car will hit 60 in just about 7 seconds with the 5 speed and get 40MPG all day long.

    Like 5
  4. Aussie Dave Aussie Dave Member

    Back in 86, we (girlfriend, then wife, now ex wife) were looking at buying a new 4WD, I nearly signed for a LWB softtop Suzuki serria But the gf said let’s go to Toyota.
    We did, one salesman was showing me hiluxs, another showing my gf, this new FWD corolla.
    Her salesman approached me, and said your gf wants you to test drive this.
    I didn’t want to, but also didn’t want to sleep in the spare room.
    The salesman came with me, I told him to hang, cause I’m going to hammer this little POS.
    I did, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, and yep we signed for one.

    Like 2
  5. JCA Member

    Great car. It’s listed as an automatic, I wonder if that’s accurate. That would be unfortunate

    Like 4
    • Aussie Dave Aussie Dave Member

      I didn’t read that, that’s an automatic pass then, pun intended.

      Like 2
  6. angliagt angliagt Member

    These are bargains (overall).I’ve been looking at them
    for some time now,& the best ones are almost always on
    the West Coast.
    I found one in a wrecking yard not to far from here.When
    I went back some time later,it was gone.

    Like 2
  7. Stan

    Toyota automatics are very stout units usually, the World Series ATF they use must be magic. They seem to last forever w much abuse and minimal maintenance. Neat little pocket rocket here for cheap. Still rather have a 5sp of course 🏁🙌

    Like 3
  8. Jamie

    Rented one of these from Alamo, out in Vegas. $99 for an entire week, unlimited mileage. We drove the snot out of it, mostly visiting old ghost towns during the day. They’ll cruise all day long at 100mph. Don’t let the automatic scare you off.. ours was an auto and got around with plenty of power. We also did some light off roading in it to get to a few of those towns. Great cars.

    Like 7
  9. angliagt angliagt Member

    Imported from Fremont,California.

    Like 0
  10. Naptown Mark

    I buddy of mine had one of these (FX16, non GTS) some years back. It wound out like none other, returned better fuel mileage than any of the junk the rest of us had, and carved up those dirt roads around Vadauwoo, WY like a rally car. He’d unplug the ECT to give’r a bit more and practice the old heel/toe. If this was east of the Mississippi I’d be hooking up the trailer.

    Like 2

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