1986 Corolla FX16 GTS: Long Name, Short Car


For every project car I desire, there’s usually some weird reason beyond its performance or handling that makes me want it. For instance, on an Isuzu Impulse, I yearn for the flip-up headlights; on a Volkswagen Corrado, it’s the rear spoiler that automatically raises and lowers itself. While I also respect these cars for the performance they’re capable of, I find those particular quirks to be among the main attractions. Likewise, this 1986 Toyota FX-16 GTS caught my eye not only for the superb handling but for some of the comfiest seats known to man. Find it here on craigslist for $2,300.


The heart of this little hatchback is the 4A-GE 16-valve powerplant that saw duty in multiple Toyota products, including the MR2. Though not spilling over with power, the rubber-band motor could wind out to 7,500 RPMs and only had a meager 2,000 lb. curb weight to hustle around. Combined with strut braces, anti-roll bars and Goodyear Eagle GT tires right from the factory, the FX16-GTS was designed to deliver impressive handling since outright speed wasn’t on the menu. Four-wheel disc brakes completed the package.


This particular FX16-GTS has been preserved and only lightly modified, with the option to go back to stock if the next owner desires. Modifications were limited to suspension, wheels and intake system, and fortunately, the wheels are classic Enkeis and are a great old-school choice. The original factory body kit appears largely intact, although the rear wiper is missing off the hatch glass – but that can be easily sourced from a junkyard car. Most importantly (to me anyhow), those extremely comfortable and supportive sport seats are still in place. I’ve often thought of recycling a pair for at-home use – they’re just that nice!


When it was tested, it was actually a bit quicker than a comparative MK2 GTI, the benchmark against which hot hatches were measured. Though the Corolla was criticized for its low torque and need to row the gears a bit more frequently on uphills, it was still praised for its comfort and handling abilities in a versatile hatchback body. Even today this car looks like a great alternative to other econoboxes that fall short in the driving excitement department, and reminds us there was a time when Toyota built some truly engaging cars. Would you throw down a few bucks to remember the good old days? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. Alan (Michigan)

    Old post has expired?

    These did not handle all that well…. But did respond ok to a bit of tuning and aftermarket parts.

    And the motors were not known for having a lot of oomph either, but there are always solutions for that as well.

Speak Your Mind