The cars we loved.
Long before the “Fast and the Furious” films ruined the market for used compact cars, there was the Toyota Corolla GT-S. The Corolla had been around for decades and spawned many variants over the years. One of the sportiest was a coupe, code named AE86. It was known as the Levin or Sprinter Trueno in Europe and Asia. In America, it was simply called the Corolla with DX, SR5 or GT-S designations.
The DX and SR5 shared a 1.6 87 horsepower SHOC 4-cylinder, while the most sought after GT-S had the same engine with DOHC and eventually 124 horsepower. Corolla sedans had front wheel drive, while the 2 door coupes were all rear wheel drive. A 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic was offered (shared with the MR2 and Corolla sedan).
The car’s light weight and modest power spinning the rear wheels made it an instant performance hit. When equipped with the optional limited slip differential, the GT-S was a straight up performance car rivaling Toyota’s own Celica. The liftback version with it’s low cd of .39 even resembled the Celica GT-S hatchback, but on a smaller scale. It’s handling abilities stood out amongst it’s mostly front wheel drive competitors.
The GT-S handeling dynamics made it a favorite of drifters. It was the early poster child for the drifting movement. “Initial D”, a series of animated films featuring the car were made five years before the first “Fast and the Furious” film.
In America, the GT-S was replaced by the short lived FX hatchback and later the Paseo, a rather pedestrian looking front wheel drive coupe. The Corolla line continued, but never really offered a sporty two door with the Corolla name.
Rumor has it that Toyota in a joint venture with Subaru will be building a successor to the GT-S. Sources say the car will likely be offered in either rear or all wheel drive versions.