Car Culture

Weekly Craigslist Hidden Treasure: 1985 Toyota Corolla AE86

You know, back when the Corolla was actually cool.

Beginning in 1983, Toyota proved that a rear-wheel drive/front-engined lightweight coupe could be turned into one of the best-handling sports cars of its era. In fact, the Toyota AE86 was part of the fifth-generation Corolla lineup. Yes, there was a time when the Corolla was at least capable of being made into something cool. The legacy of the AE86 very much lives on today.

It’s no coincidence Toyota’s current RWD sports coupe is called the 86. And like the 2018 Toyota 86, the AE86 was light (between 2,000 and 2,400 lbs), affordable, and could easily be modified if so desired. Combined with its naturally aspirated inline-four, five-speed manual transmission, and optional limited slip differential, the AE86 also maintained a near 50/50 front/rear weight balance.

And yet its exterior didn’t look particularly exotic, though its exterior design has held up rather nicely over the years. Production ultimately ended in 1987, and the Toyota Corolla lineup hasn’t been cool since. Fortunately, there are still a number of AE86s out there for those who prefer something old school instead of a modern Toyota 86.

If you’re one of those people, then this week’s Craigslist hidden treasure should be quite appealing. Located in Los Angeles is this 1985 Toyota GTS AE86. The ‘GTS’ moniker signifies it’s a higher spec model, so it came standard with, among other features, four-wheel disc brakes, more pronounced front lip, unpainted front and rear bumpers, aluminum wheels, wrapped steering wheel, and a tachometer that redlined at around 7,500. Power comes from a 16-valve inline-four with fuel injection and a total output of 112 hp and 97 lb-ft of torque.

That may not sound like much power, but you need to think in terms of power-to-weight ratio. The seller has tinkered a bit with the engine, adding an upgraded fuel pump, a new water pump and timing belt, an oil filter relocation kit, and a larger oil cooler. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual, which the seller claims is not only the original transmission but still shifts smoothly. However, it’s been upgraded with some interesting goodies, among them an Exedy Stage 1 clutch and lightweight flywheel, and a TRD short shifter.

There’s also been some suspension work and some exterior upgrades such as a carbon fiber hood. The wheels are 14-inch Volk mesh. The interior also appears to be in pretty good shape, though the seller admits there’s a crack on the dash that’s covered by a dash cover. Note the Mono steering wheel, Kirkey aluminum bucket seat and GTS passenger seat, Kenwood Bluetooth radio, and some Pioneer speakers. So, how much?

Asking price is $14,500, and if this is met the seller will toss in several attractive things, like a complete racing harness and a complete engine. Toyotas have always been built to last and, perhaps most importantly, this ’85 AE86 has totally stood the test of time.

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