Right-Hand Drive 1986 Toyota Corolla GT-APEX

The 1983-1987 AE86 Corolla was one of the last rear-wheel drive cars of its kind.

In the early 80s, automakers colluded together to switch all of their cars over to front-wheel drive (the "Big Switch") which was cheaper and simpler to make, but resulted in cars that were unbalanced, rode poorly and handled poorly. If all the major manufacturers only offered front-wheel drive, customers couldn't flock to superior rear-wheel drive cars, and had to pay a premium if they really wanted to (for Mercedes-Benz and BMW, which have faithfully retained rear-wheel drive over the years).

But there was once a time when even the Japanese offered RWD.

The AE86 was part of the fifth-generation Corolla lineup. By that time the Corolla was legendary for its affordability and extreme reliability. But they weren't seen as "sporty", that often sought after descriptor that supposedly equals sales gold, if it can be done well.

Only in Japan was the GT-APEX trim offered. It was available with a fuel-injected four-cylinder twin-cam 16-valve 1587cc 4A-GE engine that produced about 128 horsepower to the rear wheels. Given the relatively low weight, balanced chassis, stiff two-door body coupled with the 4A-GE engine and a manual transmission, these were in fact very sporty cars.

Styling is ultra-conservative. Whether we like it or not, these ARE the new upcoming classics cars. And in a way, deservedly so. The Japanese had mastered the art of compact economy car design. The hood and side doors are simple, clean flat planes. The stark white paint gives it a nifty, switch-blade appliance-like vibe. Pillars are thin and greenhouse glass plentiful for superior visibility in and out. Lower panels are black to deflect dirt and road grit. Headlights and taillights are horizontal strips that fit perfectly in their spaces. It's a masterpiece of form over function, the predominant design philosophy of the late 20th century.

This particular example is right-hand drive imported from Japan. The seller says it has about 131k miles and is in "very original condition", although it's been lowered, has mismatched alloys, and an aftermarket steering wheel and seats.

Fortunately, the seller says they have a clear CA title ready to go.

This is a cool, rare and desirable car that would be fun as a daily driver AND a hit at the Japanese car shows.

Available here on ebay in Los Angeles, California with bidding starting at $7,400.

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