WARNING: I am a mega sad git, this is very long, I am (so far) extremely happy. Scroll down for pics.
So, the Freelander was not to be sadly, and I sold it yesterday morning. I immediately got to work on finding a replacement. I found it faster than I expected.
Keen readers of my waffle will remember that my first car 6/7 years ago was a 1999 Toyota Corolla 1.3 GS. Excuse the grainy as hell photo, camera phones weren't so hot back then.
I liked this car a lot, but sadly I was blinded by first car love and it was an absolute shed that had been abused relentlessly and so didn't stay with me very long after it developed a terminal oil leak.
After needing to fix a few unexpected bits on the Freelander I was damn well set on having a Toyota to replace it. The old 1.3 Corollas were high on my list because they're in our old tax system so are cheap, and I do love this ugly shape of Corolla quite a lot. I captioned the above photo on Facebook a while ago with "I will have another one day, an SR or G6."
So, yesterday morning after watching the Freelander drive off, with the money burning a hole in my pocket, I rang a dealer in the south of the country that had a 1999 1.3 G6 in for a little more than I got for the Freelander with some absolutely terrible photos. He told me a guy had range 5 days in a row saying he wanted to buy it but he thought he was a timewaster. Not deterred by the lack of any description and shocking photos, we piled into my Mother's car and so began the collection mission.
Upon arrival I was greeted by a car that looked a million times better than it did in the pictures, with full history, full 12 months MOT, only 2 owners in 17 years, 4 nearly new Michelin tyres. I got in and the smell of 90s Toyota was as strong as ever and I felt right at home, memories of my old shed came flooding back.
I went back and spent like 40 minutes looking round it, checking fluids, and all I could find were that the wheels had a slightly dodgy refurb, it had a couple of tiny old people bumper scuffs and being bright red had a couple of faded bits after 17 years of sunlight.
On my way to make the guy an offer I noticed that despite being a tiny dealer, he had an abundance of older Toyotas for sale with a slightly forlorn looking Paseo in the corner. I asked about the Paseo and it was the salesmans personal car, told me he had had it 15 years and done 130000 miles, and that he would never sell it. We spent a little while discussing the merits of old Toyotas and then struck a deal, and the car was mine.
Here it is keeping the GT86 company.
It is by no means perfect, but it drove me back through torrential British weather for 3 hours in the dark without a fuss and seems to have done something like 45-50mpg. It's even identical to the one in the brochure:
The G6 is a very strange spec. It was Toyota's attempt at making a fun version of the Corolla but keeping it in the cheap insurance and tax bracket. This means it's got (relatively) sporty bucket seats with jazzy orange trim, a 6 speed gearbox, special orange and honeycomb gauges with the silver surround, sports suspension, front strut brace, alloys, front fogs and the lower splitter thing. Just with a mildly tweaked version of the Starlet 1.3 with 85hp. 60mph arrives in a not particularly hot 12.3 seconds, but as I'm using it as a work commuter that's fine (and it's a hell of a lot better than the Freelander).
I've done a couple of hundred miles since picking it up and impressions are good. Gearchange is lovely, engine is very quiet and lively, the close ratios help to make it feel faster than the numbers suggest. Motorway cruising was good with 70mph being 3000RPM dead on, and while the steering lacks feel like every other Corolla, it doesn't half handle well for an old ecobox. Everything works on it too, which is a novelty after I was used to using the Freelander. Even the aircon blows ice cold.
Hopefully this one is gonna stick around, I like it a lot. Plans for the immediate future are to redo those wheels and get it machine polished to hopefully bring back some of the faded areas.
Also, if you've read this far about an old 1.3 Corolla you're as mental as me, congratulations.