The cars we loved.
The Starlet was Toyota’s smallest car sold in the United States (even smaller cars were sold in Europe and Japan). The simple, but well engineered front wheel drive hatchback came in three body styles: a 3-door hatchback, 5-door sedan and station wagon, as well as five trim levels. The first Starlets were introduced in Japan in 1973. The second generation called the 60 Series was the first to be widely sold outside of its home market of Japan. Originally, it’s overall shape and round headlights made it resemble Ford’s Feista, another small car being sold around the same time. The Starlet was part of a wave of small and cheap cars that were a direct response to the fuel crises of the 70’s. Buyers were willing to forgo some amenities of larger cars for the nimbleness and efficiency of the emerging sub-compact class. Power was one of the first amenities to be sacrificed, but light weight often made for cars that were just as fun to drive if not more so than their larger cousins. The Starlet’s 1.1 and 1.2 L straight 4 pushrod engines eventually made up to 65 hp, and were more than enough motivation for the 1,650 lb. car. A five speed manual was standard with an optional 4-speed automatic available.
The Starlet named continued in Europe and Japan, but was replaced by the larger Corolla FX in 1985. The Starlet, like many small cars from the early 80’s has enjoyed a small but devoted cult following. It’s difficult to find one now in good condition, as they were susceptible to rust and other abuses that come with time. The Starlet went a long way in establishing Toyota as a benchmark maker of small cars.