A Tale Of Two Wagons
Updated: Nov 6, 2019
The station wagon was a staple of many childhood experiences from anyone who grew up in the 90's and long before. Combining the extra space and functionality of an extended roof with a rear hatch, along with the practicality of your family car of choice; made the station wagon the perfect choice for families. Today however, the station wagon is a rare option in dealerships of any brand, with the introduction of the minivan class in the 80's and compact SUVs like the RAV4 in the late 90's; the station wagon slowly lost ground in the United States as a people-hauling option.
Today when you walk in to a Toyota dealership a station wagon option does not exist, not since the Prius V left the market in 2017. In Japan the Prius V is joined by the Corolla Fielder as the sole dedicated wagons from the "big T." Increased sales of larger vehicles like SUVs and the creation of CUV class, which is the largest growing class in the U.S.; means that the station wagon is obsolete... but it shouldn't be forgotten.
Although you cannot walk in to a Toyota or Lexus dealership to purchase a Camry wagon or IS300 Sportcross respectively, you can rewind time as you go on your car hunt and pick up one of the many cool Toyota wagons as seen here. The Toyota Corolla wagon has been around since the beginning of the model's life in the 60's, be it a 2-door wagon or a traditional 5-door; in America there are 7 generations to choose from.
The two station wagons seen here represent a change not only in drive-train layout but also tuning styles. The TE72 or "Point 8" as it's fondly called, is the classic option for the old-school guy or gal looking for a cruiser that provides the same feel and excitement of their sportier variant parked at home. The ingredients are simple for a good time, a rear wheel drive layout, tune-able engine, 13 inch wheels, and space on top and out back to haul whatever you need. The utilitarian nature of a station wagon is similar to what drives people to hatchbacks and CUV/SUVs today.
Under the hood of this and many other TE72 generation Toyota Corollas lies a 3TC engine. Rated at 75 horsepower in stock form, the 1.8 liter cast iron block has seen various development phases from the aftermarket to create some seriously high horsepower numbers from such a small power plant. What adds to the distinct nature of the 3TC engine is its hemispherical combustion chamber design, making it a true "HEMI." On this particular vehicle the addition of a single Weber DCOE side-draft carburetor not only creates a fantastic sound but also boosts power figures a bit to make it easier to drive. Other goodies beneath the hood include a rare clear distributor cap accompanied by thicker race wires, an aluminum spark plug holder, and a powder coated valve cover along with others orange bits.
Inside the cockpit of this beautifully put together Corolla wagon are a myriad of classic touches that are both period correct and race ready. A combination of a wood steering wheel and shift knob with the original Toyota logo bring a nostalgic feel to accompany the roll down windows, wood grain dash board, and the 85 MPH limited speedometer. While this Corolla is clearly able to exceed the miles per hour on the speedometer, it was a regulation put in place during the oil crisis of the mid 70's that passed a law to emphasize the 55 MPH national speed limit while ending its range at just 85 MPH. The owner obviously found ways to make the car easier to enjoy for himself by placing various Autometer gauges on top of the steering column and below the center console, knowing what your vehicle is doing and being able to prevent catastrophic issues is important.
Shortened Japanese-spec bumpers front and rear accentuate what otherwise would be just another station wagon. The care given to all of the chrome pieces on the exterior of this TE72 proves that the owner loves his car, the tail light garnishes, hard to find window visors, and perfectly polished roof rack; all add contrast to the coffee brown paint. The racing fandom continues outside as well, a set of Toyota Celica Supra wheels have the addition of not only a set of American Racer wheels but custom bead locks that truly set it apart.
In the mid-1980s, Toyota along with many other manufacturers moved their rear wheel drive economy cars to front wheel drive platforms. The purpose of creating a FWD chassis is to add a level of predictability with driving dynamics and also to make packaging easier. The previous generations of Corolla had to fit a longitudinally mounted 4-cylinder engine in the engine bay, with a transmission in the middle of the car that created a hump in the interior. This along with a lack of depth for trunk space due to a solid rear axle meant that the days of RWD Corollas were at an end. The AE92 generation, or AE94 as pictured here; was set up to accommodate different body styles and purposes, but the focus here is a cool blue station wagon with a Japanese Domestic Market front end. Sitting on a set of gold contrasting mesh wheels, this wagon belongs to a new wave of old school 1990s cars that have become fairly affordable in the wake of more vintage Japanese vehicles going up in price and popularity.
Although some may never get over their love for the rear wheel drive Toyota Corollas of the late 60s through early 80s; seeing some of the styling cues like the vertically stacked rear taillights are a reminder of earlier models. Enjoying the utility of a wagon conjures up memories, for this 4AFE equipped Corolla; it could have enjoyed earlier life as just a people hauler, in the future a 4AGE could easily squeeze in between the front fenders to add a sportier feel. True enthusiasm is making the most of what is given to you with the platform you love, whether it is front wheel drive or rear wheel drive, 80s or 90s, 3TC or 4AFE; enjoying the practicality of a Toyota station wagon is an increasingly rare and unique experience.