Thunder and Lightning, Part 2: The AE86 Toyota Corolla Levin/Sprinter…

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Toyota modified corolla 2

Thunder and Lightning, Part 2: The Toyota Corolla Levin/Sprinter

In the eighties, the Toyota Corolla and its Toyota Sprinter sibling to FWD, but not without one last for the sporty rear-drive coupes. In the part of our story, we look at the and history of the final RWD Corolla — the AE86 Corolla Levin and Trueno — and consider the later and fate of the Levin and Trueno

RECAP: COROLLA LEVIN AND TRUENO

As we explained in the first of our Corolla/Sprinter history. the first Toyota Corolla was launched in followed in 1968 by the Sprinter which in Japan subsequently a distinct (albeit still model line sold the separate Toyota Auto network rather than Corolla Stores.


Midway the second generation (E20), in 1970, Toyota added versions of the Corolla and Sprinter dubbed Corolla Levin and Trueno and powered by the Yamaha-developed 2T-G engine.The Levin and were not widely exported, but successful enough (both in and on the racetrack) to continue through the generation (the 1974–1979 Corolla and Sprinter) and into the fourth generation (E70), in Japan in March 1979.

The (TE27) Corolla Levin and Trueno coupes were in March 1972. Their suspension, bigger brakes, and wheels and tires (which the bolt-on fender flares here) were available on the Corolla SR-5, but the JDM cars’ 2T-G engine was not. © 2013 TTTNIS; released to the domain by the photographer under a CC0 1.0 Public Domain Dedication. 2014 by the author)

The 1979–1983 TE71 Corolla and DOHC models (now in most Corolla/Sprinter body not just coupes) represented of a departure from the decidedly specifications of other Corollas. The TE71 models were RWD cars with live and recirculating ball steering, but a faster steering ratio, a suspension with front and anti-roll bars, four-wheel brakes, a five-speed gearbox a shorter axle ratio, and the cc (97 cu. in.) DOHC 2T-GEU with electronic fuel — still a novelty in that

The DOHC Corollas and Sprinters in only modest numbers in were not officially exported to the and appeared in only a few European (generally using carburetors than fuel injection). the twin-cam cars were successful in sedan racing and forms of motorsport, spicing up a but bland subcompact known for sensible, reliable transportation sporty flair.

THE FRONT-WHEEL-DRIVE

Work on the fifth-generation (E80) and Sprinter began in the spring of soon after the launch of the cars.

At that time, the of the Corolla was the center of a heated debate. The issue was not whether the and Sprinter should continue — by time, their combined were around a million a year worldwide — but whether should remain RWD or switch to drive. By then, front-engine, (FF) layouts predominated for B-segment cars, but there was as yet no consensus in the C-segment. The Nissan (a.k.a. Datsun 210), the chief rival in the Japanese had for the moment retained rear-wheel but the Honda Civic was FF, as were of the French, German, and Italian cars with which the now competed in Europe.

The 1978–1982 AL10 Tercel, in some markets as the Corolla was Toyota’s first FWD production car and the A-system engine that became a mainstay of the larger and Sprinter lines. Like the the JDM Tercel had a “twin” sold a separate dealer network: the sold through Toyopet The subsequent AL20 Tercel an additional sibling, the Corolla II, naturally, was sold through Stores. (Photo © 2012 days photos and fun; under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic license )

Toyota the FWD question cautiously. The company’s FF production cars, the AL10 and its Corsa twin, had bowed about six months earlier, but not replacing the similarly priced RWD While front-wheel drive clear packaging advantages as as the prospect of better ride (thanks to the elimination of the heavy axle), the Corolla design was understandably wary about such a dramatic switch the company’s bestselling car.

It’s easy to criticize conservatism, but there’s no denying cars that sell as as the Corolla did in the late seventies put makers in a tricky position: If generations evolve too little, may desert you for newer, more products, but changing too much may the golden goose with a cough. Compounding the dilemma was the that the Corolla and Sprinter a quite startling level of loyalty. Not only did a lot of people buy many of those customers — in some three out of four — back for seconds, which it particularly crucial to avoid existing customers.

Even if proved amenable to idea of a FWD making that switch such a high-volume product to be very expensive. The retooling alone were estimated at than ¥120 billion, $600 million at 1979 rates and a good deal than Toyota had originally to build the Takaoka plant most Corollas and Sprinters assembled. That was a daunting of money even for a company as as Toyota and did not include the actual costs of the new model.

Although the RWD look sleeker, the FWD five-door has the lowest drag coefficient of any E80 or Sprinter: a claimed 0.34, to 0.40 for the four-door FWD sedans or for the three-door coupe. (Photo © James Benjamin Bleeker; under a Creative Commons 3.0 Unported license )

By the end of the year, Toyota’s leadership had that an FF Corolla would become a commercial necessity, but still didn’t address the cost problem. The eventual was to make the transition in stages. and hatchbacks were given priority, since they to family buyers who put a premium on space and comfort. The coupes, for packaging efficiency wasn’t a selling point, would RWD for another model cycle, as the comparatively low-volume station and vans. We don’t imagine was really any cheaper in the long especially accounting for inflation, but it did the need to swallow the whole in one gulp. Toyota would a similar approach with the Carina/Corona/Celica platform, retaining drive for certain models for years after the rest to front-wheel drive.

THE FIFTH-GENERATION AND SPRINTER

Corolla te27 drag race

The bifurcated fifth-generation and Sprinter lines debuted in in May 1983 and went on sale in export markets later year as 1984 models. E70 sedans continued in some markets for at least another

North American E80 Corolla were 166.3 inches mm) long, 3.5 inches (90 mm) longer JDM Corollas of this generation. 1987 Canadian car presumably has the 1,587 cc (97 cu. in.) 4A-CL which didn’t have a equivalent in Japan; in the Japanese all FF Corollas and Sprinter 1600s all had injection by this time. © 2011 dave_7; used a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license )

Although all the new cars were called Corollas and Sprinters, badges now encompassed several chassis:

Four-door sedans and hatchbacks rode the new FF E80 platform, featured transverse engines, steering, and fully independent with MacPherson struts and rear. All FF Corollas and Sprinters the diesel now used variations of the OHC engine previously introduced on the offered in 1300 (1,295 cu. in.), 1500 (1,452 cu. in.), and 1600 (1,587 cu. in.) forms. FF cars the chassis codes AE80 1300s), AE81 (for AE82 (for 1600s), or (for diesels).

Coupes, in two-door notchback and three-door body styles, retained drive and rode an updated of the previous live axle but shared the FF cars’ rack-and-pinion and A-system engines. The RWD coupes the chassis codes AE85 1500s) and AE86 (for

Corolla station wagons and got a mild update later in but retained the E70 body and chassis RWD and Hotchkiss drive rear In many markets, the wagon and van retained the older pushrod K- and engines, which were not on the E80 cars.

The 4WD Sprinter Carib wagon actually rode the of the smaller AL20 Tercel/Corsa/Corolla II.

In 1984, Toyota added an FF line with three- and hatchback body styles. cars, dubbed Corolla FX in and North America, were on the FF sedan platform and shared the chassis codes, but had sportier

Introduced in Japan in October the three-door Corolla FX hatchback was intended mostly for the European (although the FX name wasn’t there for trademark reasons), but the late introduction proved a miscalculation in Japan, briefly Toyota some market This is a 1987 or 1988 Corolla FX16 GT-S, by a transversely mounted version of the engine making 108 hp SAE (81 kW). © 2009 IFCAR; released to the domain by the photographer, modified by the author)

The E80 Sprinter also the basis of the 1986–1989 Chevrolet built by GM and Toyota’s jointly NUMMI plant in Fremont, The Nova had different exterior than the JDM Sprinter, a unique and the obligatory U.S.-spec bumpers. Novas used the same 1,587 cc (97 cu. in.) 4A-CL as U.S.-market FWD Corolla sedans. © 2011 dave_7; used a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license )

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