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Toyota Starlet

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Toyota Starlet
Toyota
Production 1981-1984
Class Subcompact
Body Style 3-Door Hatchback
Length 153"
Width 60"
Height 54.3"
Wheelbase 90.6"
Weight 2000 lbs
Transmission 4-Speed Manual, RWD
5-Speed Manual, RWD
3-Speed Automatic, RWD
Engine 1.3L (81 cid) I4
Power 67-74 hp
Similar None

Toyota introduced the diminutive Starlet in 1981, bringing Toyota's subcompact model count up to 2 (the Tercel being the other one). The Starlet was a bit of an anomaly in that it was actually a rear-drive model in a world of front-wheel-drive subcompacts, being sort of like a Japanese Chevrolet Chevette. The Starlet would have a fairly short lifespan, being offered only from 1981-1984 with very few changes.

Here's a quick rundown:

1981-1984

Although the Starlet would be available in its homeland of Japan since 1973 as the Publica 40, it wouldn't make its way to the states until 1981. The Starlet would be offered in only one trim level, and be powered by a 67 hp 1.3L (81 cid) I4 engine with either a 4- or 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 3-speed automatic. A 3-door hatchback would be the only bodystyle offered. While most subcompacts of this era were usually devoid of very many creature comforts and conveniences, the Starlet was relatively well equipped by comparison, offering standard reclining bucket seats, front and side defoggers, an optional rear wiper, a three-spoke steering wheel, trip odometer, tachometer, padded dash and sun visors, plush carpets, door armrests, fold-down rear seats, automatic locking rear seat belts, and an aluminum-trimmed dashboard.

The standard equipment roster would be expanded on 1982 models, and it would include tinted glass, an electric rear defogger, and a day/night rear-view mirror. There would be no cosmetic changes at all. 1983 Starlets, however, had a revised nose and grille that sloped backwards a bit for better aerodynamics. An improved fuel injection system upped the hp rating to 74. Base and only engine remained the 1.3L I4 with the same transmission choices. Cloth seat inserts became an option. 1984 models were virtual reruns of 1983 other than a couple of new colors. The Starlet would be dropped after 1984 and have no direct successor, although some regarded the all-new front-wheel-drive Toyota Corolla FX16 as a spiritual successor, introduced for 1984.

A 1981-1982 Toyota Starlet would be prominently featured in the 1997 movie The Rainmaker, starring Matt Damon and Danny DeVito.

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