A couple of summer ago, I needed a car and ended up buying a 1991 Toyota Corolla from a friend. Having never owned a Japanese car before, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. Wow, what a surprise.
The interior is very well built and holds up well. You'll never see torn seats or cracked dashes in these. The plastic used inside is durable and will never break (especially not the door handles or the window cranks), you can tell Toyota designed and built this car to last a long time.
The free revving 1500cc 4-cylinder provides all the passing power you could ever want and enables the car to keep up with even the most high end cars on the market today. The five-speed manual is precise and geared just right. Alternatively, you can opt for the sporty automatic with its quick shifts.
It's pure bliss to drive. You really feel in touch with the road. It's glued to the road at freeway speeds and especially if it's raining outside. It corners beautifully thanks to the fine-tuned suspension. It never gets stuck or loses traction in the snow.
Toyota went the extra mile when it comes to rustproofing. I have never seen a spot of rust on a Corolla, or any Toyota of that era.
The downside to owning a Corolla is that since they're so well built, they're very rare to find in junkyards if you need spare parts. But that's cancelled out by the fact that the chance of having to replace something is slim to none.
I sold this car in December 2006 and I regret that decision to this day. Due to it's rarity, values will skyrocket and it's sure to one day become a very valuable classic car that loads of people will lust after.