The Best Corolla?
If I was given a dollar for every time someone asked me which Corolla I thought was the best, I’d have, well, probably enough to buy a cheeseburger. No, it’s been a few more times than that actually, so I’ve decided to put this little article together. Besides, if you’ve clicked on this link your obviously interested as well, either that or your at work and don’t feel like working.
The views in this article are mearly my own humble opinion, some people will disagree, but I’m sure most would be with me. Being the only person I know to have owned all three of these cars at the same time I think I’m fairly qualified to comment.
So let’s begin shall we, first of all I should tell you a little about the three cars in question. The AE82 is a 1987 model Twincam, or ‘Twinky’ as we like to call it. It is completely standard besides a set of aftermarket springs from an unknown source – they were on the car when we purchased it.
The AE92 is a 1992 build CSi hatchback. It began it’s life with me as standard, but by the time it’s life was cut short in a nasty little accident it had undergone all sorts of mods to the suspension, brakes, and engine.
And last but by no means least is the AE86. Not your average 4AC powered example though, this one is a 1983 Levin GTV. Released officially only in Japan, this one escaped to Australia with a group of others to help Toyota’s Bathurst campaign.
Okay, let’s get one thing straight, if you want to buy an AE82 you simply have to get the 4AGE powered Twincam 16 model. The only exception would be if you were planning on a complete rebuild and intended replacing the engine, suspension, brakes, interior… you get the point. Or you may of course may just want a reliable little car to get around in, that would be an acceptable excuse too.
You can get yourself an AE82 Twinky for pretty cheap these days, but they’re starting to get a little old now, so I guess you’d expect that. The hardest part is finding one, or more to the point, finding one that hasn’t been thrashed to within an inch of it’s life by some P plater. We payed well above average for ours, but it was in well above average condition. As with most things, you get what you pay for.
For a completely standard car (besides the springs) the Twinky is a very fun little car. However, while they were pretty quick for their time, don’t kid yourself into thinking you can still go out and drag off everyone else at the traffic light Grand Prix. Depending on the condition of the engine, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with many of the newer hot hatches getting around these days.
Handling wise they’re a great little thing. Four wheel discs, the fronts being vented, are sufficient for most people, and a three point strut brace pulls the front together nicely.The suspension is just your average Macpherson strut setup, but it seems to work very well. Add a set of decent aftermarket springs and dampers and you’ll be a happy camper.
You may want to invest in a good alarm for your Twinky, because not only do they stand out to lowlife scum thieves, but they’re also very easy to break into. Ours has been broken into twice and we’ve lost the whole stereo both times! Thankfully insurance has always covered it, but it’s still not a pleasant experience.
There’s not many other complaints to be had with the AE82, they’re certainly not the fastest cars out there, but find your self a clean example, throw a few insurance friendly mods at it and you’re sure to get plenty of bang for your bucks.
We’ll skip the AE86 for now and move forward to the AE92, keeping it in the fwd family. Now my AE92 was a CSi, which certainly wasn’t the base model, but then it was no 4AGE powered SX or GTi either. The CSi features the mighty 4AFE, basically a 4AGE with a different head designed for economy over performance. I wouldn’t bother with anything less than a 4AFE as it’s the only one besides the 4AGE to feature fuel injection.
I like the look of the AE92, it is without doubt one of the best looking Corollas produced, I’d even say it is one of the best looking hatchbacks from the early nineties. It is however a very conservative design and doesn’t stand out too much, some people don’t like that, but they’re usually the ones driving cars with ill-fitting over the top body kits with tasteless colour coding and sticker work.
There are not enough good things I can say about my AE92, but that’s just me. It was simply a very comfortable, reliable, economical car to drive to work everyday. Add some decent suspension and brakes, along with a few very mild engine mods and you could have a damn good run through the twisty bits and have an absolute ball. I even took it for a thrash around Lakeside Raceway when it was completely standard without any dramas.
If I liked my little CSi so much, no doubt I would’ve loved an SX or GTi. Or would I have? There was just something out the CSi, everyone thought of it as a nice little sensible runabout, and I was happy to let people think what they wanted. If only they could’ve seen it sliding all over the road flying up and down our local hill climbs or around Lakeside.
The famous Toyota Sprinter, or as some refer to it, the Hachi Roku (Japanese for the number 86). In Europe and America they were still known as the Corolla, GT in Europe and GTS (or lower spec SR5) in Canada and the US. In Japan they were know as either a Levin or Trueno, depending on he front body styling. I like to refer to it simply as the 86.
Had I’ve had a standard Aussie spec Sprinter, complete with the super high (non) performance 4AC engine (complete with carby and SOHC, yeah!) then perhaps my view on the AE86 would be different. Thankfully my little baby was a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) spec Levin GTV. That means it had as standard a 96kW 4AGE, four wheel disc brakes (vented at the front), limited slip differential, and a heap of other cool stuff.
The AE86 is the oldest out of this trio, and it’s not hard to tell. The interior looks dated (but by no means ugly), and if you can find one with less than thirty-five assorted rattles you’re doing pretty well. Rust is another problem, but that’s the case with any car of this age, even newer in many cases.
Looks wise I think the AE86 is one of the most perfectly proportioned car ever, and I mean ever! I would say that wouldn’t I? But seriously, there is not one single thing that I would change about the exterior looks, they’re just perfect.
The handling is simply awesome, awesome for it’s age and price that is. A lot of people seem to think you can buy an AE86 and go out whipping late model ‘sports cars’ like the 200SX, WRX, and the like, such is it’s reputation. Well I’m afraid it’s just not true. The thing is though, you can spend enough on an AE86 to make it just a quick around a track as a 200SX or similar and still have enough cash left over for a, say, house deposit!
The problem for the AE86 now is that it’s becoming increasingly popular – and therefore expensive – thanks to a certain Japanese animated series by the name of Initial D. That’s fine if you own one, not if you don’t but want to.
I’m not going to beat around the bush, the AE86 is King! No, that’s not entirely true, well it is, but it’s not. You see all three are quite different cars, each has it’s own points. If it’s something nice and comfortable you want get around in all week and then cruise up or down the coast on the weekend, the AE92 is definitely the one for you, especially if you go for the SX or GTi.
If you want to get a bit more serious and you really enjoy driving (like I do) then there is no question that the AE86 is the undisputed number one. Remember though, your going to have to spend a fair wack of time and money on an Aussie Sprinter to make it a ‘proper’ AE86, ie. 4AGE (as minimum) and sorted suspension and brakes. If you don’t want to make the effort, then you should really look at the already sorted AE82 Twinky instead.
That leaves the AE82, I see this as a near perfect compromise between the AE92 and AE86 (provided we’re referring to the Twinky, which we are in this case). You could buy a standard AE82 Twincam and have loads of fun, whereas with the other two you would have to do a bit of work first (unless of course you had an SX or GTi, but we’re talking about the CSi okay!).
So which one would I choose? Well there was a good reason that I owned all three at once (besides the fact I like having loads of cars!) and that was because I simply couldn’t decide. Like all (well, most) Toyotas, all three of them are simply great cars.
Update: The AE82 has just been traded on the much newer AE101. Looks like we have another one to compare!