shelbyz
shelbyz Reader
9/10/18 4:21 p.m.

Going to look at one of these with a friend tomorrow. There really isn't too much info on them out there, so I wanted to see if anyone here had some feedback/wisdom/etc. or knows some key trouble spots to look out for (like rust prone areas/common failures). Also, what is the relation (if any) in terms of parts like suspension/exhaust to the much more abundant newer AE101 Corolla's? Are they fun to own/drive?

The car in question has a lot of miles and it's in the rust belt. The body has already started to corrode pretty good. Based on its year, it should be a TVIS/"Big Port" 16V 4AGE.

If it runs and drives good, and doesn't have any glaring issues, we're probably going to bring it home for the right price. Just wanted to gather as much as we can before we go and pull the trigger.

SyntheticBlinkerFluid
SyntheticBlinkerFluid UltimaDork
9/10/18 5:46 p.m.

There are a few people on here who know them pretty well. If it were an AE92 Sedan or Wagon, I could give you some insight. 

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
9/10/18 5:51 p.m.

1988 was the AE92 with the TVIS head.  1989 had the small port.  They are a great car.  I put a 20v motor in one, megasquirted, and put about 80K miles on it, beating the snot out of it.  Also had Koni cartridges and Ground Control coilovers.  Yeah, it was a real phun little car.  Sold it because I got tired of it, driving 80 miles a day and wanted something more cushy.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
9/11/18 7:48 a.m.

That's the car in my avatar (and you can see the mods I've done in my garage entry). Suspension struts are the same as an AE101, linkages are different. Biggest weak areas are achey-breaky engine mounts and crumbling wiper tanks. They don't rust too badly for their time but the rustiest areas are at the base of the rear glass, the rocker corners near the jacking points, and the tops of the door openings. The bigport is the least desirable of the 4AG variants and has less aftermarket parts available for it.

Best performance mods would be to replace the floppy stock suspension with some rock-hard coilovers and get some wider wheels and tires, although fitting anything wider than maybe 205-wide gets really tricky really fast. When you do this, front suspension bushings will become a consumable unless you replace them with polyurethane ones.

Also, any parts specific to the coupe are getting really, REALLY hard to find, especially for the rear disc brakes, I'm hoarding some of the last rear sliders and pistons in the world. You can swap in rear disc brakes from an AE101 with a little fab work, and use the rear discs meant for the sedan with a little milling. Watch that rear inner diameter on the discs, 1mm difference is enough to easily split them open, ask me how I know...

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
9/15/18 12:55 p.m.

Bump, just wondering how it looked.

shelbyz
shelbyz Reader
9/17/18 10:14 a.m.
GameboyRMH said:

Bump, just wondering how it looked.

We went and looked the car last week, and a buddy of mine ended up towing it home on Saturday.

$800 for a one owner car with 196k. Needed towing because of an almost dead battery and a metal oil cooler line quickly spewing most of the cars oil.

Interestingly, the car was owned by a long time Navy family. The owner ordered and bought the car new from a Toyota dealer on the Island of Guam in late 1988. The car was eventually shipped to Hawaii and then to San Diego as the family was re-stationed a couple times, before making its way to MI with them around a dozen or so years ago. The car has started to corrode (IE has some holes in the trunk floor and surface on the body), but it's life outside of MI likely held that process to within the 12 years in MI.

The double edged sword is that the car is all original... almost TOO original. There are no modifications to the car whatsoever, which is great, but outside of a new tailpipe and a somewhat recent clutch job apparently performed at a Toyota dealer, the 30 year owner didn't recall too many things being replaced. It's possibly on the original timing belt, all suspension components, radiator etc. It does appear to have a had a tune up at some recent point as it has some clean blue NGK plug wires and fresh looking red disty cap. The 4AGE, which looked to have not run in a while fired to life when the guy jumped the car and despite a pretty high cold idle, there were no discernable ticks noises. That coupled with the coolness of the black/silver two-tone original paint is what sold my buddy.

After a quick bath inside and out, and under the hood, we got the car on the lift yesterday. We deleted the hard lines for the oil cooler and temporarily ran some Autozone rubber fuel hose to get the thing running without the massive leak. We also chucked the long non-operational AC system as well as cruise control. We also sorted some missing/dried vacuum lines, replaced a badly cracked intake pipe with a pipe from an eBay intercooler plumbing kit laying around and replaced the air box with a cone filter also laying around. Upon inspection on the lift, the car looks like it's needed a PS CV axle for a long time, has a broken flex section in the 2-1 pipe on the stock header and likely needs just about all of its rubber suspension stuff replaced. Needs tires real bad too.

We putzed around in it after we got it done last night and it runs great! However, you can definitely tell that the suspension and that axle definitely need to be addressed. Also the weird high cold idle wasn't remedied by replacing the broken/missing vacuum and intake pieces. It also feels like the "newish" clutch is an especially weak OE replacement unit or/and badly needs to be bled.

My buddy has a laundry list of parts on the way from Rockauto to give the car a fresh timing belt/WP/plugs/wires/radiator/axle/etc. and in the near future will be looking into upgrading the broken header, blown struts and dried out suspension bits, and getting a nicer but not ridiculous set of wheels/tires.

In response to Dr. Hess... This car is a 1989 (build date of 10/1988) and definitely has a TVIS/Bigport 4AGE under the hood (TVIS badge and split runners on the intake manifold and has the clearly audible engine note change around 4500RPMs).

Here's a pic from last night:

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
9/17/18 10:29 a.m.

Nice. 15x7s with 195/50R15 tires are the biggest that will fit without any trouble, and are fine for street use. That's the setup I'm running (although I'd really like to fit 225/45/15s or even 245/40/15s!)

I forgot to mention the spare tire well rust, a natural consequence of the rust at the base of the rear glass.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
9/17/18 10:46 a.m.

I think I had the 195/50-15's on mine, if I recall.  Might have had 205's.  I'd have to check my log.  Interesting that the '89 had a large port motor.  Might be by build date.  Toyota does that a lot.  Mine was the same color.  Stock Toyota clutches are the best.  I've put premium aftermarket clutches in, but I'm done with that.  I'm only using stock Toyota from now on.  When I did the motor swap, I put the AE101 motor/trans in.  Never split it.  It had 60-80K miles on it at that point and was never apart.  I beat the snot out of it for 80K miles.  Power shifts, bounce off the redline every day, etc.  Never a problem.  OK, one problem:  An original spark plug wire shorted on me once.  That was it.  The car was fun. 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
9/17/18 10:57 a.m.

The stock clutch is pretty good and I'd highly recommend sticking to it for street use. I have an Exedy stage 1 on mine now just to give some headroom for planned mods (including a torsen diff), but stock will stand up fine to track/strip use with a stock powertrain. The engine mounts, not so much...I should really say powertrain mounts since there's only one that actually attaches to the engine out of 5. I'd recomend filling the front, rear and trans side mounts with urethane if it's being used aggressively in any way.

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