Rare Liftback: 1983 Toyota Corolla

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While Corollas of this generation are rare in any form, we hardly ever see the liftback body design like this silver 1983 example listed for $2,750 in Arizona. These cars represent an era of Toyota engineering practically lost to history, with rear wheel drive and overbuilt four-cylinders that weren’t sexy but could sure take a beating. The upgraded Supra wheels work well here and I’d lower this one post-haste. Find it here on craigslist with spare parts included. 

The body isn’t perfect, but it’s easily repairable. Being an Arizona example, there’s no rust or rot to report, and the lack of sunroof may even spell some additional structural rigidity for the next owner. The beltline trim could be improved and the paint fade is practically a standard feature for any Arizona cars left to stand in the sun for years at a time. All glass and lenses look to be intact.

The interior is a throwback to when Toyota still had fun building cars. The interior color scheme is practically identical to some of the body stripe kits we’ve seen on Hiluxes of the same era, and this liftback-bodied Corolla would make a fine garage companion for a truck of the same era. The seller does address the heavily cracked dash by stating he’ll include a replacement pad to replace the original.

Mechanically, the Corolla isn’t perfect, but it’s also an old-school Toyota so it’s flaws should be easy to address. The seller notes: “Starts and runs but will need a new clutch before it’s road worthy. Feels like it has the original shocks still on it. Brakes should also be gone through to ensure safe driving. Steering feels fine for a manual rack and pinion, no noises or binding.”  For the price, it’s hard to go wrong even with those issues to sort. Do you have a classic project you’d like to feature on Barn Finds?  Fill out this form and list your car or truck with us today.

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  1. Mountainwoodie

    I had a friend who had the earlier iteration of this liftback in dark green back around 1977. Had a more rounded appearance and thus cleaner lines. I was driving a ’52 MGYB and I remember thinking how modern the Toyota was ! :)

    Like 1
  2. stillrunners

    Like these two……..

    Like 0
  3. Miguel

    When I saw the title, I had to click on the listing to see the car.

    I couldn’t place in my mind the Corolla hatchback.

    Now I remember.

    Like 0
  4. robertv

    These were marketed as the Toyota T18 here in Australia. Great solidly built cars, mechanically bulletproof but I think the consensus at the time was that they looked a lot faster than they went.

    Like 0
  5. BOP_GUY BOP_GUYMember

    Blast from the past! I learned to drive stick in this car’s twin, although it was brand new at the time. In 1985, my Dad sold it to my thrifty Uncle with 60,000 miles on it. My Aunt & Uncle drove it to almost 500,000 miles with one complete rebuild somewhere in the middle of ownership. As a kid, seemed like a pretty sporty car! Great memories.

    Like 1
  6. Barry druschel

    I had a gorgeous 1981 black on black sr5 version of this car. It had every option available from alloy wheels to an alpine stereo. I drove the snot out of it and it always looked good and never failed me. I learned to drift in that car. 5 speed stick, sunroof- I was the MAN.
    Sold it with 130k on the clock to a very grateful fireman. Great car.

    Like 0
  7. KevinW La

    I bought one of these new in 1980 when I worked at at Toyota dealer. Dark blue, Corolla SR-5 with the sunroof. It wasn’t the fastest car, but was a blast to drive. Put over 90,000 miles trouble free miles on it till some jerk stole it. It was never recovered. Still miss that car.

    Like 1
  8. RoughDiamond

    My Dad owned one these with a 5-speed when he was in his 70s. He always had to don his driving hat (flat cap) whenever he was behind the wheel.

    I often times had to remind myself that when this man was younger he was a member of the Hertz SCCA and took me for ride pegging 120 MPH in one of the first 100 ’65 Shelby Mustang GT 350Hs produced with a factory 4-speed. I’ll never forget him saying after my joyous screaming car ride “Now son, it’s probably best if we don’t tell your Mom about this”. My parents had converted our attached carport into a den with a big picture window in the front. There were many days that Shelby sat on our upper driveway and I would just get a barstool to kneel on and just stare at it. Little did I realize then how special those days were.

    Like 3
    • BOP_GUY BOP_GUYMember

      That’s awesome! 😎

      Like 0
  9. John C.

    I had 4 or 5 of these, 1980-82 models, which had the 1.8 engine, I believe in 83 they went to the 1.6. not as much power and a lot more pollution stuff on it. Very easy cars to work on. And if that mileage listed in the ad is original, (109,000) someone could get 10 years or more of driving out of this car with the proper maintenance. You didn’t really need power steering on these cars as it was too touchy, and I remember taking the PS belt off of mine and liked how it steered that way better. A/C is a must for me on these, I even put a complete AC system in one that didn’t have it from parts I stripped out of a wrecked one, all models came with the wiring and needed holes even if they were not going to have AC in them at the factory. That piece of black side molding that’s missing is available.
    I never went for the lowering thing on these cars as then they rode terrible if you cut the springs and over time if you hit a lot of bumps the body at the top of the rear shock towers started cracking and next thing you know your shock was sticking up thru the trunk! But I had a lot of fun with mine and drove it everywhere with no worries.

    Like 0

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