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1999 Toyota Corolla 1.3 G6

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.


The truth is, while the markets are very very different, I’m also looking for an older Corolla, actually for my girlfriend. They really are an excellent go-to second hand, so I think you’re onto a good thing and doing the car World a service with that purchase.

That said the one I will probably need to get would be 2008 onwards as her family is very safety conscious and I’d need to get a model with 4 Star ANCAP minimum.

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Damn, that’s an ugly car. Great buy! Knowing how much you love toyotas it really is the perfect car.

Please don’t. Newer corollas are just boring, with none of the weird utilitarian charm that ones as old as adam’s have.

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So jealous right now… Aus only got the uninspiring 5-door with 7A-FE’s as standard. Having a 6 speed, 3 door, 7A-FE version for us Corolla enthusiasts in Oz would have been awesome!

Yeah I know Leo, but… Older ones don’t have a 4+ Star ANCAP rating :joy:

I’m buying for a family who owns a freaking Prius (Adam you’d have something to say about that, right?)

I don’t think people who buy older cars care about the overzealous safety features offered in newer models. Besides, older cars are almost always cheaper to fix in terms of labor. And I can’t blame Adam for liking those old Toyotas. I’m weirdly drawn to old econoboxes myself, and his looks like a pretty good find. Makes me jealous that we didn’t really get a fun version of that Corolla in the states.

Hey they don’t set anyones pants on fire but they’re excellent cars. Also yeah, this shape only has 3 stars in Euro NCAP, but I was in a crash in a 1991 Carina years ago (pretty much 1 star in tests I’d have thought) and I saw how well that did, so I trust these old things.

Hey we didn’t get the 7A-FE at all, it was offered in other parts of Europe but only in the 4wd versions as far as I know. 4A-FE was the biggest petrol engine we got, even in the G6R.

I’m not saying you should get an older car, just that you shouldn’t get her a Corolla :stuck_out_tongue:

Although for people who want fuzz-free transportation, that won’t do them any more favours then getting from A to B, I guess the Corolla is perfect, it’s what it’s always been built to do.

Have you driven a Corolla before? I only ask because, contrary to the stock internet story, the Corolla is a rather fun little car with strong engines and good handling.

For the record I’ve driven a AE91 w/ 4A-FE and 4AFC and an AE101 w/ 7A-FE and 4A-FE. All manual and all were nice cars with fun chassis’s…

lol, then I don’t feel as bad but mad props for having access to a 6 speed gearbox from factory!

and an ae101 transplant is always nice. My first car was an 86 corolla seca with the mr2 engine and I would still have it if an old lady didnt t-bone me after school.

ahhh the days before P plates

Driven no, but I am pretty sure we aren’t talking about the same corolla, because the post 2000 sedans I’ve been in were drab, boring and gutless, a feeling made worse on the CVT one, not to mention a bit overpriced.

If they are anything like the 2011 USDM Matrix (essentially a Corolla wagon) I have driven, which had the 2.4L not available on the corolla, and I wouldn’t say that car had awesome handling.

The 2.4L has loads of torque, which is indeed fun, but the manual transmission was horrible to use, with a VERY long clutch throw. Steering also has pretty much no feel and the car just feels bigger than it is.

But looking at the various wikipedia articles, it seems that the corolla nameplate is used on a bunch of different cars depending on where you live.

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Driving a car is a bit different than being in a passenger in one; you get a lot more information through being in control over coming along for the ride! That being said, I agree that the CVT would have adversely impacted upon your experience.

I wasn’t suggesting they’re the hot hatch to die for, merely saying that the drivers attitude goes a long way towards how a car handles; if you work with the car the lower level Corolla’s are surprisingly quick and fun to drive. Plus Toyota has a habit of making different variants for different markets. You’re most likely get a different suspension and engine tune to Australia and maybe Aussie Corolla’s are tuned to be more wieldy than Brasil and the USA!

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Like Leo I’ve been in US market ones and they’re a very different car despite being the same, as it were. They’re setup to the american tastes of edging towards comfort as opposed to sharpness, nothing wrong with that particularly as it’s the market they’re going for.

Sure, I’ve never understood the criticism levelled against them so harshly by the media. The fact it’s the best selling nameplate and a normal boringly reliable car probably makes it the easiest target. I’m not gonna try and argue a mid spec Corolla will ever get your adrenaline pumping but christ, neither will the equivalent mid spec Golf or Astra or whatever, which is what the press would have you believe.

This one is very light, has a decent suspension setup and is quite low, so it feels quick and it’s a good laugh at low speeds. It’s just what people like I suppose. Everyone likes different things, and for everyone that says how terrible an FSO Polonez is there will be another that can have a right laugh behind the wheel of one.

All that said, the US did get the XRS which, if anything like a T Sport with which it shared it’s vital bits, will be an absolute hoot.


Bugger it, gonna come clean on this one as I usually give updates. Not off to the best start, well actually off to the worst start.

Up until last Monday the car had been fine, I noticed Sunday night that it had lost a little coolant but nothing massive, maybe like 150ml. Topped it up and went on my merry way to work Monday morning.

So there I am, sat in a slow moving line of traffic on the motorway just cresting the top of the hill. From here it’s mostly downhill to work, as I work in a valley (this is important later).

I’m singing along quite happily to Aerosmith - Sweet Emotion when I have a quick check of gauges to check fuel as I knew I was getting down. Quarter tank, cool, speed 20mph, cool, temperature just below red area, cool. Did a double take at the temp gauge and immediately whacked the heaters up to warm which lasted all of about 20 seconds before going completely cold.

At this point I was thankful that a) I’d caught it before going right into red zone and b) it was school half term, roads were slightly quieter which meant we were moving slowly rather than not at all like usual.

I managed to get the temp back down to normal, but by this point any application of throttle sent it creeping up. Managed to limp it over the small hill further down, then it’s a huge hill and a roundabout to get me into work. Saw steam coming out, popped bonnet and to my surprise it wasn’t pushing out of the radiator or overflow, it was leaking from somewhere near the water pump.

By some sort of miracle, I added 2.5L of coolant and it got me the 30 miles back home without using any more coolant. I call this a miracle because I came out to it the next morning, started it up and the coolant was coming out like a tap. Assuming I was onto a winner with the water pump I ordered a new one, spent ages last weekend taking it off, resealing everything to the block etc, waiting 24h for sealant to harden only to find it exactly the same. While I had it apart I noticed a little black/dark brown gunk around the head/block joint but thought it was perhaps oil residue so thought nothing of it.

Took the day off today to try and sort it out but after 30 minutes of realising I didn’t have the cover, tools or space to do a proper job, I contacted the only small local car repair place I’ve had any dealings with. I had to limp it the 4 miles or so there, in that time it had managed to use about 2L of coolant as far as I could tell.

Got a phonecall a few hours later, apparently what’s happened is before I bought it, the Head Gasket has blown to atmosphere and so is shoving the coolant out of the side at the top of the block. The black gunk that’s being pushed out is K-Seal that someones put in it before I got it, which explains why it was temporarily fine and ran for a couple of weeks with no problems. When I bought it, the coolant was clean, radiator looks new etc, so I thought it had been well looked after and obviously it wasn’t leaking anything. He tells me there’s quite a bit of dried coolant and corrosion down the side of the block so it seems like it’s been doing it for a while.

I’ve left it with him for now and contacted the dealer that sold me it, they’re going to contact me tomorrow to see what happens. Until then at least, the Corolla is going to remain at this small garage to await it’s fate.

Before this I did make a few unimportant changes, fitted Osram Nightbreakers etc. I’m quite upset. I love these cars, this is the second I’ve had that’s had multiple issues because of a previous owner. Same thing with the Land Rover, although that had many more problems like door lock issues, as well as the fact it needed the ABS fixing and 4wd fixing.

The price he told me it’s going to cost to get repaired is almost what the car cost me, so I haven’t decided what will happen yet. It’s not looking great.

TL;DR Been sold another lemon with hidden issues.


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I’m currently waiting to see what happens with regards to the place I bought it from, and then whether it can actually be repaired or if it’s taken any further damage from being run like that for as long as it has. I’m still using my irrational “It’s a Toyota” logic on that last bit in the hope that it hasn’t taken any serious damage.

And if anyone gets the reference, this bloody song is stuck in my head:

Feels crap man.

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I’m sorry man, hope the gasket failed just right so coolant leaked outside the engine and not into the pan or cylinders. I also have a long time love of Toyota’s and Corollas specifically, are there “lemon laws” where you are about holding dealers responsabke for selling cars with serious defects?

Edit, yes if the channel can’t kill a hilux a bit of coolant won’t kill your 1.3. keep the faith!

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This story kind of makes me nervous about my Alfa now :disappointed_relieved:

Apparently this is what it’s done. I checked compressions at the weekend and they were all even and well above Toyota’s minimum specs, even with the engine stone cold, so hopefully all is well. As said above, can’t really tell for definite until the engine is opened.

We do have similar sorts of things to lemon laws but they changed at the end of last year apparently, so I get less rights. I’ve tried contacting the dealer I bought it from and they’re going to get back to me tomorrow morning (again, hopefully).

I wouldn’t be - you bought it from an enthusiast, more likely to have been looked after there than from an average Joe private seller that isn’t fussed about cars or a dealer I think.

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