Toyota Corolla 1980 cs
Owner Review

1980 Toyota Corolla CS review

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Not everyone wants to have everything done for them. Some people would prefer to add every last ingredient to their spaghetti bolognese, while others prefer to buy a tin of Campbells. Me however, I am the former, which is why I still own my first car which I bought 9 years ago for $800. It's my 1980 Toyota Corolla 4-door sedan, with the big block 1.3-litre, 45kW trouble-making 4-cylinder.

Well it had 45kW when it was new, but it might have 30 or so now. It certainly feels like it!

Why did I buy this car you ask? Simple; it works! The day I picked it up from a student in Frankston was the day I first drove home with a cloud of smoke behind me. The poor little thing was in such need of a service and a good tune up, but I could tell under those arthritic bones was a heart of gold - it just wanted to run. The exterior was nicely weathered and I think it had the best colour ever, mustard! Hence why I named him Mustard Man.

The interior is back to basics; wind-up windows, a poor quality stereo, cloth seats, a basic heater with a noisy fan, and it even has a choke cable. It is a car where you don't have much to do to make yourself comfortable, but what there is to do is all done by you, so it's more involving in that way.

The way Mustard Man drives is exactly what you'd expect from a car with 175 section tyres - very entertaining, especially when it's wet! When it was dry however, due to the fact that with me in it the car only weighs 950 kilograms, it actually went around corners very well, which is partially helped by the fact that it's also rear wheel drive. The 4-speed manual gearbox shifts amazingly smooth for a car of this type, and I've often found myself completely forgetting it's a manual as I drive from A to B. It slips into gear so easily that I barely register that I'm the one doing that myself.

Maintenance? I don't know what that is. Do Corolla's need that? The only major things I've had to replace in the last 70,000kms of mostly-abusive driving are the front wheel bearings and the front brakes. Otherwise it's been basic services the entire time. There's a reason Toyota gained such a reputation for a reliability; it's because they made cars like this.

What's in store for Mustard Man's future? Well thanks to an ever-growing classic car culture, there are a vast number of quality parts and upgrades I could do to make things better, or more fun, or look cooler than what it currently is. So I think that's what I'll be doing; modifying and enhancing my proper little drivers car.

People shouldn't be scared to own a classic car. If you buy right you can often score yourself something that is far more entertaining than a modern car with their Apple CarPlay etc. And, unlike a newer car, older cars can and have proven to actually make you money once you sell them, rather than cost you money. And on that note, no, Mustard is not for sale!