The Greatest Car Ever . . .?

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How do you rate the greatest car ever made? If it’s by the total number sold vs. any other car, the Toyota Corolla wins, without even trying. Here’s a short rant as to why it has outsold every other car:

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26 COMMENTS

  1. The Corolla was not one car model over its life but depending on your criteria, at least 7-8 substantially different models with little in common other than the name or the philosophy of the small cheap economy car . The Beetle while evolving significantly over the decades is undeniably the same basic car so by that criteria I beleive the Beetle should win this contest hands down

  2. Greatest Car Ever? VW (original) Beetle, of course 🙂 What other car can have the engine pulled by two guys in 20 minutes, rebuilt, and back in by sunset?

    Corolla is a solid car, but they’re not as 100% bulletproof as advertising would lead one to believe. I have one (or, one of the kids has one), yep, 175K miles and still going, but the nagging little PITAs started last year. Plastic stuff broken, starter, rad fan…but, the little 1.8L and 4-speed auto keep chugging on. Better than a CVT-equipped Nissan though!

    • Hi Crusty!

      I’ve owned both – old Beetle and late-model Corolla. The Beetle is of course the much more repairable/field-expedient car; almost anyone can keep one going almost forever because it’s essentially an oversized lawn mower. But it’s also a tougher car to drive every day vs. the Corolla, which (usually) has AC and the power to comfortably operate at sustained speeds near the top speed of an old Beetle.

      • Mornin!
        As for A/C, the 4-port 1.6 can handle a DPD A/C setup with the smallest Sanden 500 series compressor just fine, power-wise. The real problem is electrical, the little 50A alternator just could not keep up with all those fans and blowers at idle. Same problem with the Type 4 engine, no place to put a bigger alternator, and an A/C compressor.

        When the SHTF, a 1.6L Beetle would be a good ride to have, or a non-computer TDI with a mechanical rotary injection pump. Until then, a mid-00’s Corolla is probably the least troublesome ride to have, as long as we can still get parts for it.

  3. Toyota is a true worldwide company. And in most of the world people do not replace their cars every few years. They expect them to work.

    I heard the best line about the Japanese while watching a documentary on it the other day. Oddly enough, the line was about a mechanical pencil, how two manufacturers overcame lead breaking and wearing unevenly.

    “Japanese people expect things they depend on every day to be reliable”

    Says it all. Explains why every Toyota I’ve had has been nearly indestructible.

    • Hi Techie,

      Yup. I am a longtime devotee of Japanese motorcycles for this reason. As people in the know already know, the early Japanese bikes, like the Honda Dream and then the CB750 (and Kaw Z1/Kz series) were so well-built they lasted practically forever. I own several 40-plus-year-old UJMs and they can still be ridden across the country, more reliably than new bikes – because of their anvil-like toughness and easy serviceability.

  4. If only Toyota would come to their senses and allow us to buy the wagon version of the Corolla they sell in Europe. I’d have one in my driveway right now if they did.

  5. My ’06 Corolla, 5-spd, crank windows, no cruise, 2 airbags. It’s got A/C and a radio/CD, that’s it. Water pump and LR wheel bearing went. the clutch lasted over 300k. But, the most amazing thing is the upholstery. The driver seat shows virtually no wear and doesn’t have any sagging points. It’s averaged around 38mpg it’s entire life(it was higher before 10% ethanol was everywhere).

    How many miles does it have? I don’t know. About 3 years ago I noticed that the odometer was at 299,999 miles. I was so excited! WOOHOO! I get to see it roll over to 300k. Nope. It’s stuck there. I asked the dealer if there was an easy fix like with a scan tool or perhaps a recall. No. He did offer to fix it though…by pulling out the dash and sending the unit off then replacing it. I nearly died laughing.

    It is by far the best car I’ve ever owned. The trunk is huge, rear seating excellent for adults on a less than cross country trip. You’ll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers.

  6. When I was a kid in the early 80’s and was getting ready to drive, my neighbor had a stripper mid-70’s Corolla, and man did I want it bad. He wouldn’t sell it to me. I went Honda instead and had lots of honda’s after that. Funny how when you start or get used to something you tend to stick with it. Too bad many dumb car companies don’t realize they need to have a beginner good car and you probably lock the many users in for life or at least a long time.
    Even back then I realized RWD (corolla was back then) was a better car, but I couldn’t get the car, so FWD honda’s it was. My whole neighborhood had honda’s in the driveway.
    Worked out well for me cause I learned how to fix the common problems of early hondas, like the head gasket failing on those CVCC engines all the time, etc…. I became the local honda mechanic alternate to the local dealer and it put me through college. made big bucks when the owners didn’t change the timing belt at 60K, and they failed very soon after that. We then learned about ‘interference’ engines, haha.

  7. nice to see the corolla is a reasonably priced car still.
    and it looks so much better looking than the 90s versions, though it was still better than the turdcel.

  8. “knowing pieces of crap everywhere threaten its continued operation”
    LOL, so true. Last week someone tagged my Frontier (parking lot bingo). Broke all the plastic crap fasteners on the nose and crunched the D.S. fender. So far it’s zip ties and silicone for the win, waiting to see who else wants to smash my car.
    Few days ago I had an Autozone clerk ask me if it was for sale – I’m not too sure I want anything ‘nicer’ right now…

    Used to own a 95 corolla 1.8L 5sp., it was a very good car. I sold it cheap at ~230k miles, it was burning a quart of oil every 1500 miles. Gal that bought it drove it for another 5 years then junked it. Then the junkyard used it for a yard car lol.

    • Lol, that is a great Corolla story. Sorry about your fender, what a pain in the ass 😣 I did a pretty sweet ziptie/bungee/duct tape job on my beloved Accent’s bumper, finished my vacation (first one in years, aint thought about takin another one since) and kept driving it another couple days beyond that until my body shop revealed the hurt that its rear frame took, he broke down the cost of repair and talked me out of keeping her.

      In my case it was an Asian lady who was working hard at living up to the Family Guy “good luck everyone!” stereotype, she slowed down for the very obviously stopped I-95 South rush hour traffic and then suddenly decided to speed up and change lanes without, y’know, changing lanes..ran straight into my rear passenger side bumper, sent me into the guy in front of me. Dash cams absolved me of any fault insurance-wise, but there’s no real justice with that.. cop wrote her a ticket and no doubt she just went out got another car and went back to the same stupid shit. Damn nanny state stupid courts valuing people’s life and personal finances over property..I mourned the shit outta that car 😢 Insurance adjuster went “Damn shame, this car was really well taken care of” I know 😭

      Suffered the stupid rental car another week but I did find my unicorn right in town though, a very low mileage 2016 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, no nanny nonsense. Snapped her up before someone else could, they always sold faster than I could wrap my head around the financing.. Probably lose my damn mind if any harm ever befell it 🤯

      • “Probably lose my damn mind if any harm ever befell it”
        that is the rub, any time I’ve had a ‘nice’ daily driver it became a magnet for idiots.
        Actually had the driver’s side window of my unlocked Camaro broken out so they could steal a $150 head unit. Somewhere along the line they tried prying off the T tops too. FFS
        My first V8 swapped S10 got Teed by a blind old Korean man with a miserable insurance company. Fun!
        Etc.
        Lately I drive old beaters and don’t stress as much.

        I bought that corolla for $1300 with a salvage title (airbags/doorskin/fender). Never fixed the air bags. Think I put 50k miles on it. Would buy another in a heartbeat.

        • Hi Bob,

          This is pravda… truth. I almost as nervous about leaving my Trans-Am parked outside as the sickness psychotics are about going outside without their Diaper(s) on. The difference being the threat to my TA is real! But I’m less worried about my old (2002) truck, which has its dings and dents already and isn’t a target for cretins because it’s just an old truck.

          • I know how you feel about the T/A

            Used to have an 82 Citation for a winter beater. It had 2 shades of primer, 2 shades of bondo, and lots of dents. It was so ugly my wife wouldn’t ride in it. I remember a couple of times people moved their cars because I parked next to them LMAO.
            They probably thought it was contagious, guess I should’ve slapped a diaper on it. :/
            Paid $150 for that car and the seller delivered it to me, he lived about an hour away. I told him if the car made the trip I would buy it.
            It lasted me two years then developed an electrical problem that wasn’t worth the effort to find (kept frying ECUs).

  9. Hey Eric,
    Hope there is an article coming soon about the US post offices ugly new mail truck. It’s a design only a government drone would love. Got to probably cost at least $150k per copy.

    Can’t figure why they just can’t use an off the shelf van, like UPS, FedEx, Amazon etc do with no problems.

  10. It cracked me up, and still does, when the politburocrats whipped up the hands-free mandates for smart phones. With distracted driving civil penalties, justified, of course, should you get popped handling a smart device while on a roadway.

    So, while one can’t hold up a device in the line of sight to the roadway (still a bad idea), it’s OK to take eyes off the road to manipulate a similar interface mid-dashboard. Not to mention the touch manipulated controls on the center console. You know, down by your knee.

    Screens are so sterile; the index finger and thumb do it all. Gone is the feel of moving a lever or turning a crank or knob where feedback and result acknowledge one is manipulating a machine.

    Hey, remember that lever extending out the dash which you slid through a slot to adjust, say, the temperature?

  11. I hate cell phone interface and their terrible designs (and how websites often mimic that interface). They are just terrible and just don’t work very well. So clunky and counterproductive. Forget about doing anything fast. Even Apple doesn’t get it right. Google is ten times worse. Even real computers have much better (though they often have stupid designs too). Cell phone interfaces glued onto cars and full size computers are the worst as it seems that design is going to everything. Yuck.

    • ‘Cell phone interfaces glued onto cars and full size computers are the worst’ — richb

      Totally concur. A phone’s small screen requires a dumbed-down interface.

      Simple can be good, but not when it leads to multilevel menus, which should have no place in active vehicle controls.

      Why do commercial jet cockpits feature dozens of indicators, switches and controls? Because THAT’S THE WAY YOU DO IT when fast reaction and safety are top priority.

      Probably the ubiquitous cell phone interface has subtracted 10 points from collective human IQ — as the Tech Lords fully intended. GOT FACEBOOK? /sarc

  12. I don’t mean to be a downer, I used to look at my cars in terms of their longevity, but learned the hard way that there are so many more careless assholes on the road nowadays who just keep finding new ways to total your impeccably maintained car out from under you.. every manuever I make in my coupe now is to give it the best chance at survival, knowing pieces of crap everywhere threaten its continued operation 😟 The insurance payout doesn’t mean dick squat when the govt is doing its best to make it impossible for us to find another new car without all their nanny bs in it.

    Good review though EP, I’ve been biased against the Corolla just on my anti-yuppie principles, but this opened my mind up more to it, the manual transmission was a surprise 🤔

    • A good friend had that happen lately. Ten year old car he has owned since new, beautifully maintained. He had been hoping for at least another ten years and probably would have gotten that and more even, but no..

      Ruined by dingbat yakking on her cellphone. Kept talking on the damn thing after crashing into him too……..

      • I feel for him man, it’s soul crushing, especially knowing it doesn’t even have to be that way if only they’d find some ounce of consideration for other people’s property. Vehicles, they’re not supposed to be touching each other, it really ain’t that hard.

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