4WD Beater: 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon – Sold?
October 12, 2021 Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.
Every now and again, we like to feature a car or truck that hasn’t achieved collector status yet but represents a great value as an entry-level project. This 1989 Toyota Corolla Wagon is a rare All-Trac model, which combines a five-speed manual gearbox with a center locking differential, making it a practical snow machine. The Corolla isn’t perfect – far from it – and was originally listed in September 2021 on Craigslist in Thomaston, Connecticut for $1,800 with 272,o00 miles and a variety of mechanical needs listed. According to the NADA Price Guide, the average retail on one of these four-wheel-drive wagons is $2,300, so the seller has accounted for at least some of his car’s flaws in the asking price.
The All-Trac lineup, in general, was a pioneering moment for Toyota, as the company effectively brought four-wheel-drive to the mainstream, adding the advanced system to a number of vehicles, ranging from the Corolla to the Celica. While Subaru gets all the credit these days for being the predominant early adopter of all-wheel-drive (a title which they certainly deserve), Toyota actually beat them to the punch in a way because the company put it in everything from wagons to racy sports cars. That said, the All-Trac name never caught on quite like some of the other brands, and today there are enthusiasts hunting down cars like this left and right for the rare drivetrain components that can be swapped into more deserving examples. It’s hard to say whether this example should be parted out or restored, but the rust-free rockers likely make it worthy of saving.
The seller’s car has seen some use, and with an odometer reading approaching 300,000, it’s not a surprise it has picked up some dents and scrapes along the way. I have a somewhat personal connection to the Corolla wagon of this generation as my uncle let me borrow his a number of times. My most distinct memory was how it felt like it was held together with bubble gum and masking tape, yet I had no doubt the car would take me wherever I needed to go. The drivetrain just felt that stout, especially compared to the rest of the car. In the case of this rare four-wheel-drive Corolla, it seems likely that the body will dissolve long before the drivetrain ever does, and while the rockers are in great condition, rust in other areas is concerning enough that it should be repaired. The previous generation 4WD Corolla wagon is a touch more collectible than this era, but even with that in mind, it should still be saved and made into a reliable classic daily given the rust is not yet terminal. Good luck with the purchase if you bring this rare wagon home.
Here’s the seller’s description:
“1989 Toyota Corolla All Trac AWD Wagon! 5 speed MANUAL transmission. Has 4wd with central locker, part of the alltrac family. Super super rare. Car is in passable shape, starting to rust out around the wheel wells and has a large dent in the rear driver back side. Rockers are solid, though. It runs, drives and stops as it is – even the e-brake works. Extremely reliable, but has its quirks. Can be driven home. It’s not perfect and will need some work, but an awesome base for an awesome car. Had plans for an ultra sleeper car, a few brand new parts. As far as I know needs the following: needs exhaust from cat back, window crank, key is temperamental when starting, dashboard has some cracks. $1800 pretty firm. Calls or texts only. Do not contact without the ability or intent to purchase and pick this up. Could be driven home. Eight60-Seven82-Zero311.“
Do you have a Toyota All-Trac story you’d like to share? Comment below and let us know!