Rare Ragtop: 1982 Toyota Corolla SR5 Griffith

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Just because something is rare doesn’t make it valuable.” A few of you would add “or, desirable…” on this one, I’m guessing. Nevertheless, this 1982 Toyota Corolla SR5 Griffith convertible is very rare but it’s also very rusty and would be a very big project. The seller has it listed here on eBay in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The bids are at $1,050 so far and there is no reserve.

I can’t imagine what the buyer will find once they start restoring this car. The visible rust gives me the chills, it seems like it has to have ravaged the underside and must be in almost every nook and cranny. It’s too bad that this car isn’t from the Pacific Northwest or even the southwest portion of the US where the rubber parts would be fried but at least the body would have been saved from the evilness of rust. The seller does say that the frame is solid, which I’m guessing they mean the underside. Some photos would have been nice, as usual, but it’s 2020.

I’ll try to not talk about the rust again, but it’s impossible to not think about it if a person has owned a car with lots of rust on it. Growing up in the upper-Midwest, I have had too many rusty cars and I know that it’s about the hardest thing to fix and to keep fixed. The Griffith convertibles were reportedly made for only a couple of years and I read reports of there only being around 200 of them made. There isn’t a ton of information on them which is unusual. There was the SunChaser convertible and some sources report that Griffith’s convertibles were known as SunRunners, but then some sources dispute that.

The seller says that this car has been off the road for thirty years, since 1990. Was 1990 really three decades ago?! Man, where has the time gone. The interior will also need work as you can see, but it looks worlds better than the exterior does. The back seat looks pretty good but the top will need to be replaced. The trunk looks surprisingly solid given the condition of the rest of the car but I’d want to see in that spare tire well. The motor for the top wasn’t exactly tucked away to make for more storage room, maybe they plopped it where they did in case it needed to be repaired.

The engine is Toyota’s 3T-C, a California spec version of their 1.8L inline-four which had around 70 hp. This is a really unique car and someone will have a lot of work on their hands in the restoration. Have any of you heard of a Corolla Griffith convertible?

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  1. Superdessucke

    I’m sure more than one of these got named “Melanie.”

    Like 3
  2. Jim

    Funny thing is, I’ve seen cars on this site in far worse condition that the writer has fawned over. Yes, this looks to be in rough condition, but it’s in one piece, and I’m sure anyone who wants one would look at this as an opportunity.

    Like 5
  3. Scott Marquis

    Griffith may be the name of the tow outfit that dragged it in.

    Like 2
  4. Wayne

    The top goes down ( stuck in that position ) but the windows don’t ? I like the rear wheel drive Corollas, but this just looks like a chop top conversion to me. Same people that did the Celica and RX7 conversions???
    What about unibody reinforcement? And how much more does the car now weigh? Now if the reinforcements have been properly done and it had some handling and performance upgrades ( and the window went down) then it might be worth saving. Otherwise for me, this is not worth my time.

    • nlpnt

      The body style it’s based on is a true hardtop, no B-pillar and the side windows all roll down (at least those retained in the conversion, it had a double quarter window treatment similar to a gen 2 Cordoba).

      Toyota went Chrysler one better (also Subaru and Nissan who did the same) by building a 3-door hardtop hatchback of the same generation, the Corolla Liftback.

      Like 1

    Car is listed with clear title in the ad but seller in the description says NO TITLE. So with all the rust showing I have to side with the writer. Rust is hard to ignore. As cool as might be finished. I am out

    • nlpnt

      That confirms what I was leaning towards, this would mainly be suitable as a parts car for someone who had either another one or a stock E70 Corolla hardtop they were willing to cut up.

      I don’t have access to a production number database but it seems the TE7x/AE7x Corolla Sports live in the shadows not only of their successor AE86 models but of the non-sports versions of the 70-series Corollas. With no more stock power on tap in the sports models the lighter, cheaper-when-new two door post sedan seems to have more go-faster cred, and the wagon is popular too. Even the four-door sedan seems to turn up in vintage-Japanese-car circles more often than the notchback hardtop but that could be a supply rather than demand thing.

  6. JoeNYWF64

    These have a frame? Well the bumpers could not look better!
    Too bad they still don’t make an AFFORDABLE REAR DRIVE 2 DOOR Corolla FOR SINGLE PEOPLE.
    Think the $1995 maverick or pinto was cheap?
    If only today’s drivers knew how much they are getting ripped off on body style, color(in & out) & option “choices” today.
    FACT – it’s a lot cheaper to build a simple solid axle rear drive car.
    & 1 with 2 less doors.

    Like 1
  7. Rosko

    Ohhhhh, no, no thank you

  8. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    It’s amazing what 8 years on the road will do to cars in this area…..

    Like 1
  9. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $1,225.

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