The Bid is Right

Guess just how much this 1987 Toyota Corolla will sell for and you could win $500

by Conner Golden
4 August 2022 3 min read
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We’re taking a break from the weird-‘n-wacky for this round of The Bid is Right. Our three previous picks skewed toward the esoteric; we’d be impressed if even a quarter of our contestants had heard of the Gordon-Keeble before our write-up, and you needed some commendable research skills if you sought to cast an educated guess for both the Competizione-spec Daytona and ultra-rare Austin-Healey 100S. In contrast, correctly guessing the final bid on this week’s 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S should be easy money.

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Maybe. Getting a grip on what the heck is going on within the Japanese collector car market is about as easy as finding another AE86 in this condition. Enthusiasts don’t seem to know what to do in this pressurized market; even as some market segments have begun to level out, values of Japanese cars from the 1980s and 1990s continue to soar upward at an alarming rate. This is to say nothing of the many big-money outliers that command a final price that’s sometimes double our projected value.

These firecracker sales are usually—usually—limited to squeaky-clean examples of cars that can be tricky to find in even “good” condition or in any condition at all. The 1992 Nissan Sentra SE-R featured in a previous Bid is Right contest is a good example.

This ‘Yota stands a great chance at being one of these eye-crossing sales. Head to the sale’s comment section if you need proof; both bidders and observers allude this might be the cleanest AE86 GT-S extant in North America on account of the Corolla’s proclivity for catastrophic deterioration. Between rust, Cash for Clunkers, and undue injury at the hand of wannabe drifters, the stock of presentable, unmodified Corollas from this generation might sit squarely in the double-digits—or less.

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That’s a shame, since this little GT-S reminds us of a time when affordable rear-wheel drive sport coupes weren’t just available, but plentiful; in the 1980s, it was simpler to categorize automakers by who didn’t make sport coupes rather than who did. The Corolla GT-S was one of the better ones, offering a compact rear-wheel drive platform and rock-steady reliability from Toyota’s iconic 4A-GE twin-cam four-cylinder.

When new, it was a sports compact with universal appeal. Then, a starring role in the Initial D manga and anime series long after its discontinuation granted the AE86 platform near-mythic status within the JDM community. Legions of young nascent enthusiasts rendered each tired AE86 a rumply jumble of bashed panels, trashed interior, and thrashed mechanicals before tireless rust returned these worn-out coupes to the earth.

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But not this one. According to the listing, this ’87 GT-S remained with its original owner in Quebec until acquired by the seller in May 2020, accumulating just 81,000 miles in the preceding 35 years. It remains in remarkable condition, right down to the clean upholstery and semi-sparkly undercarriage. The 1.6-liter four-cylinder and snappy five-speed manual transmission are reported to be in top-notch running condition, with the only modifications being a hi-flow cat and HKS exhaust.

It’s not perfect—a cracked dash and worn wheels make up the worst of it—but it’s preserved enough to potentially land as another sky-high outlier sale. Want some reference sales to shape your guesses? Tough. We’ll leave you to your own devices, but you should be used to that by now with The Bid is Right. If you think you’ve got the magic number in mind for the final bid—without going over, mind you—shoot your best shot in the comments below for your crack at the $500 pot.

House rules:

  • The commenter who guesses closest to the hammer price without going over wins. (Hammer price excludes auction house fees).
  • One guess per commenter.
  • If two people guess the same amount (within a dollar) the earlier guess wins.
  • Commenters must provide first and last name in addition to email address.
  • We will close the guessing on Monday, August 8th at 3:35 PM EST.
  • Your privacy is important to us, and we’ll never sell your information. By providing your email you will receive the weekly Insider newsletter, and you can opt out at any time.
  • You can read the full rules here.

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