Virgin GT-S: 1990 Toyota Corolla

Japanese classics built for enthusiastic driving are some of the harder cars to find as worthwhile projects. That’s why we did a double-take when scoping out this 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S here on craigslist, a car that is commonly abused by young drivers until it ends up in the scrap heap. Rust, neglect and accident damage are common killers of these pretty coupes, but this late production example with the desirable “Red Top” motor is in fine shape. 

Although the previous generation AE86 is slightly more revered by enthusiasts for its rear-wheel drive layout, the AE92 still offered the eye candy enthusiasts craved: a subtle body kit with side skirts and rear spoiler; sharp basketweave alloy wheels; color-keyed mudflaps; and of course, the rev-happy 4AGE motor that featured more power than its predecessor and a healthy 7,600 RPM redline.

The cockpit was a nice place to spend time, too, with sporty bucket seats and a 3-spoke steering wheel. This example shows well, with bolsters that appear undamaged and the the much-maligned automatic seatbelts. Speaking as an owner of a car with auto belts, they are annoying – but you get used to them after a while. The seller confesses that the dash has some cracks and the A/C is currently not working.

Underneath, this Corolla is as solid as you would hope a Texas car to be. No rot can be seen on the floorpans, although the crossmember does appear to be a bit wet. Given the seller mentions he just drove this car home and is already selling it, it’s fairly clear he’s a flipper; however, he does promise that the GT-S does not leak or burn any oil should the next owner also have a roadtrip ahead of them.

Fast Finds


  1. Moparman Member

    UGH! The “mechanical mouse” seat belts killed my desire!! :-)_


    no biggie, just unhook them

  3. Fred W.

    I don’t understand the problem with the belts. My parent’s 78 Caprice had them, bothered me for exactly one day, then they were fine. You can get used to anything. And, you’ll never be in a wreck without a belt.

    • Steve65

      I’m not interested in (or willing) “getting used to” seat belts that compromise my safety in the name of protecting people too stupid to buckle up. Instant deal killer.

      Same thing with the domestic cars that latch with slack in the belt, to molify people who can’t cope with feeling the belt across their shoulder.

      • olddavid

        When you set the lap belt, aren’t the motorized ones as safe as the connected ones we have today?

      • Steve65

        No. They have excessive slack and are poorly positioned compared to a properly designed conventional three-point belt.

  4. angliagt

    We have the earlier model of this around here.
    It was owned (from new?) by a guy that worked at the local
    Toyota dealer,who always kept it in perfect shape,until he sold
    I’d try buying it,but what would I do with another car
    around here?

  5. Rustytech Member

    These were fun, dependable cars, and this looks to be in excellent shape. Those seat belts never bothered me, and I believe you could unhook them and just use lap belts if you wanted. Then if you really can’t get used to them you could always install a set of Ricaro seats with 4 point belts.

  6. Sam

    Safety is an evolution. My 88 FWD Cutlass had “step in” (not sure what to call them) seat belts that saved me very serious injury. I had a glancing t-bone crash in 1993 with a mini van that decided to cross a highway from a side road at the last minute.

    Watch the 50th anniversary crash test between a 59 Biscayne and 09 Malibu.

    Dale Earnhart’s death is an extreme illustration of modified safety equipment gone wrong.

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