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'81 Corolla wagon
77 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hmmm... I guess I never got around to posting here. OK, here it goes...

Owner of two brown (one is technically burgundy) 1981 Corolla station wagons. Brown refers to the original color, not the firebrick that Minnesota tries to add to the car. That I valiantly battle each year during my rust abatement week; the joys of a drill with sanding pads, bondo, and rubber spray undercoating.

I bought the first Corolla in 1987 when a penniless grad. student in NC, now a penniless university researcher. Manual transmission with about 150,000 miles on it. I guess as far as "mods" go, the major one is a reduction in length of 1" after somebody rear-ended me last winter.:mad: Totaled, of course. It doesn't take much $ damage to total a 23 year old car. It cost about $400 to have it pulled back into some sort of shape, plus several days of my own labor, but I figured that I wasn't about to find a used Toyota wagon in MN that wasn't rusted to pieces for what it was going to cost to get the old one running. I spent a pleasant few days on the porch spray painting a replacement hatch I happened to have in my garage, and used Texas bumper, at -5 °F in December. (How I happened to have a spare hatch is another story that I'll tell if people are interested.) Yeah, yeah, it did say to use the paint when it was between 70 and 90 °F but I would have had to wait 6 months; this is Minnesota. So this is my winter car.

My summer car is basically the same except this one has automatic transmission and just clocked 120,000 miles as readers of the Corolla Forum may have noticed. I got this one about 3 years ago from some people I know slightly. I kind of jokingly said to them that if they ever thought of selling their car I'd be interested. About a year later family population pressure meant the car was mine for $350. It needed a new wiper transmission and had a rusted out bumper (thank you junkyard in Ogden, Utah for replacements) but was otherwise in pretty pristine condition for a MN car.

If I had the storage space I'd love to register the summer car as a collector's vehicle. Storage logistics don't let this happen so they're both working vehicles at the moment, summer - winter swaps.

I'd love to learn how to work on these cars more, since they are old enough to still allow one to work on them. I don't really have a good workspace. A sloped driveway about 8 feet long, an unheated garage. I'm also a self-taught auto mechanic (still very novice) so I have to be pretty confident before I start unscrewing something. Um, these truly aren't muscle cars, unlike many of the posts I've seen on TN, so my intention is mostly repair and maintenance, not customization.

Hey! These cars are both spring chickens as far as Corollas go! They still have some of the original parts like belts. It's only once you first replace these that you then have to replace them frequently because nothing lasts like the originals. It's a pity that Toyota corporation itself no longer sells parts for cars this old (none of the dealers in this area have them in their databases).

TN should have a forum for older cars since these present unique problems in getting parts and repair.

Sorry, no photos. I have one on paper but being penniless means no digital camera yet, or scanner.

Oh, in case anybody is curious, I put up a small website with gas mileage records for these cars (talk about having too much time on my hands...)
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