RHD and 4WD: 1988 Toyota Corolla Wagon

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting one of more established importers of Japanese-market vehicles to the U.S. He specialized in Mitsubishi-branded military Jeeps, but also had an eye for other unusual JDM cars and trucks. He was planning to import a 4WD Corolla, a car I never knew existed – like this 1988 Toyota Corolla wagon here on eBay, also known as a Carib.

In the U.S., finding a non-rusty Corolla wagon or 4WD Tercel SR5 is a feat in and of itself. In fact, it may even make more sense to buy an oddball like this overseas-market Carib that is apparently rust-free and mechanically sound rather than hold out looking for a Tercel wagon in similar condition. This one shows as being completely OEM-correct, right down to the steel wheels.

Of course, you’d have to get used to right-hand drive steering (as I’m about to in my 1980 BMW 320 project), but I have to tell you – it’s not that hard. I drove my E21 around the block twice and was surprised how easy it was to adapt to. Regardless, this Corolla/Carib shows well with clean cloth bucket seats in a pattern we didn’t get and a dare-we-say sporty three-spoke steering wheel.

Of course, there’s legendary Toyota reliability under the hood, and parts are still easy to find for these late-80s Corollas. The only difference is, this one sports a sweet manual-locking differential for some decent off-roadability (or at least your local ski slope). The seller also notes mileage is low at just 45,500, indicative of the ruthless Japanese requirements to levy high taxes on cars of a certain age. The Buy-It-Now is about $8K with the option to submit a best offer.

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Comments

  1. chad

    No RHDs, enjoy yours.
    Too bad it’s full time AWD,
    those 2 R losers 4 me…

    the rest is check writing time and a 3,000 mi UShip
    4me, a shame.

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  2. Peter

    There were lots of these in certain areas north of the 49th. Basically unstoppable on the snow and ice. Almost impossible to damage the mechanicals. Rust the usual problem however.

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  3. Carter

    My sister owned a Corolla Alltrac Wagon when she was in grad school. Truly one of the slowest vehicles I’ve ever driven, and that list also included the Tercel SR5 4WD Wagon she owned before that Corolla. I owned an Audi 4000CS quattro at the same time, but while the Toyota lost the flair and flamboyance of the Audi’s snow performance, it was never once flustered in a storm and she had to repair it exactly zero times until she sold it with 300k on the clock (but the Tercel made it even farther!!)

    2+
  4. Leon

    Saw a sliver rust free early 80s 4WD Tercel wagon here in Lake Charles La last week. Older lady driver. Likely the original owner

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  5. Butch

    I owned an HJ61 VX RHD Land Cruiser, it was a JDM vehicle…….I got used to the RH real quick, had it 6 months…..I never got used to going thru garage doors, gates etc. I would hug my side, and leave 3 ft on other side……knowing where that far side fender is for me was gonna take a while…..would have kept it, but got offered a decent profit and sold it……

    4+
  6. Rx7turboII

    Has anyone on here ever driven a right hand drive vehicle in a stick shift? I have always wondered how hard it is to get used to shifting with your left hand instead of your right…

    2+
    • James

      Being in the UK I’m used to driving a RHD stick but I’ve had the pleasure of owning a few LHD cars with stick change and I’ve found it fine going that way so I wouldn’t imagine it would be that hard doing the opposite

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Rx, I never have driven a RHD vehicle. It goes against everything we hold dear. With millions of miles in a LHD vehicle, RHD would be a whole new ball game. The shifting would be the same. Many times I shifted with my left hand while drinking a cup of coffee with the right. ( knee against the steering wheel)

      1+
    • Carter Johnson

      @RX7turboII – it’s not bad. I lived in England for a while and more difficult than shifting was adjusting your expectations to vehicle placement. I’d think that would hold true here too. I’ve also driven my father’s ’26 Bentley (right drive, but right shift) and it’s not difficult to figure out.

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    • Alan (Michigan)

      The component of driving a RHD manual transmission car that perplexed me when I did it was the shift pattern.
      Since the driving position is reversed, IMO the shift pattern should also be, as in: The lower gears should be closest to the driver, with the higher gears gated to the left. Driving the car (Focus diesel) was not an issue, just that darn awkward feeling of bringing the gear lever closer for upshifting instead of pushing it further away.

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  7. Adam T45

    I had one of these as a company car when they were new. I was a comms technician located in the wilds of north-east Tasmania, and used to carry an enormous amount of equipment and tools. Mine was just unbreakable and unstoppable. It was the best vehicle I ever had in my 20 years as a Technician. And to answer Rx7turboII’s question: It all comes down to what you get used to. Here in the Land Down Under, we have the same issue trying to adapt to American muscle cars (LHD). A mate of mine bought a LHD Mustang and said that the first few times that he drove it he kept accidentally winding down the window whenever he went to change gears!

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  8. JTNC

    These were available new in the US (LHD of course), but by then Toyota had discovered the magic sales elixir of the SUV and lost interest (to Subaru’s benefit). Appealingly freaky with bulletproof mechanicals, but I imagine most US examples are pretty worn out or rusty by now. I own an RHD Bentley and it’s not a problem except at parking garage machines, which are awful.

    1+
  9. Tony Koz

    The only difficulty of RHD is passing on a two lane highway when you are behind a truck. It is easier if you have a passenger and can trust their judgement.

    1+
  10. chad

    U gottid Tony.
    No probs adaptin. Probs: on the rd – w/all the other LHD/R lane travel.

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