Britain’s oldest Toyota Carina E found!

Here it is – we’ve finally tracked down one of the oldest British-built Toyota Carina Es still on the road in the UK!

Our search for the earliest running example of the first model made at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK factory in Derbyshire gained huge exposure – and after chasing down leads, we’ve located the one of the earliest Carina Es still on the road.

Mike Hoyland’s Carina E was registered in July 1993, and was built during our Burnaston factory’s early months.

It’s testament to the quality and reliability of Toyota’s UK manufacturing effort that it’s remained on the road ever since – here’s the story

December 16, 1992 was a groundbreaking day for Toyota. It marked the first day of Carina E production in the company’s state-of-the-art factory in Burnaston, near Derby. Not bad, considering the decision to build here was taken just three years before, with Toyota Manufacturing UK (TMUK) being set-up in December 1989.

It’s an ongoing success story more than 20 years on, with TMUK’s investment now topping £1.4 billion. In 2012, 109,502 Avensis and Auris models were built there by a dedicated and expert workforce.

The Carina E was launched in the UK and Europe in March 1992, but for the first nine months, cars sold here were actually imported in from Japan. Despite that, Toyota called it the ‘E’ to denote that it had been tuned to appeal to European tastes, and to reflect its eventual UK production. Once on sale, the Carina E soon started selling strongly – both on the back of the memorable advertising campaign (that featured Enya’s Book of Days), and the brilliant strapline, ‘the car in front is a Toyota.’ 20 years on, people still say that.

It’s possible that Mike Hoyland was humming that Enya song when he walked into his local Toyota dealership with a view to buying one. It was July 1993, and he decided that he wanted a new car to replace his trusty Honda Accord. He’d worked hard for it, too: ‘I had taught chemistry for 30 odd years, and decided to buy one using my redundancy money,’ he says.

The car Mike went for was a Carina E GL four-door saloon, which came up to the princely sum of £13,175.00. ‘I still have the original invoice, and I let a friend adopt the Honda, so there was no trade-in against the Carina.,’ Mike smiles. Needless to say, Mike took delivery on 1 August – L-registration day – in order to maximise that new car experience.

And coming up to 20 years on, Mike still has that Carina E. And he loves it. ‘It has been absolutely reliable, he says. ‘It runs almost silently, and the exhaust has only been replaced once. At 32,000 miles, the Lambda sensor packed up, but I was advised to contact Toyota GB headquarters in Redhill, which I did. And without any query, they agreed to stand the cost.’ Other consumables have included one starter motor, a shock absorber, and a couple of radiators.

‘But that’s all not bad for 20 years and 153,000 miles, eh,’ Mike smiles.

Britain’s oldest Toyota Carina E 1

Other than that, the Carina has run like clockwork, proving that the Toyota’s British workers can build a car to the same exacting quality standards as their Japanese counterparts. There was one other issue, but that’s hardly the car’s fault: ‘The remote locking has failed partly due to someone taking a screwdriver to the lock,’ Mike says. ‘They didn’t get in, but the lock had to be changed.’

Mike’s Carina E is your typical family hack, and gets used properly – it’s no cossetted museum piece. ‘There’s a bit of rust on the front wings,’ he adds. But it is has been perfect. ‘It has taken the family all over without a blip; we have carried my son’s bicycle and goods to and from Nottingham University when he was a student, and it is easy to carry 5m lengths of timber through the sunroof – and that was standard fit in 1993.’

Did Mike buy the car because it was made in the UK, or because it was a Toyota? ‘I hadn’t realised it was one of the earliest of the cars made here, although there was a small label to that effect somewhere at the top of the windscreen,’ he confirms.

And is Mike a car fan? ‘Oh yes, I like cars, and I take an interest in what’s on the road,’ he smiles. ‘I read reports, but don’t think that they are as unbiased as they would like to appear. The Carina “wasn’t inspiring” they said, but how many cars can compare with mine without special treatment?’

He’s also a Toyota fan. ‘The company is supportive of its cars and the customers. My favourite cars are the final-shape MR2, the old Celica and the new GT86. Back to reality, the Yaris Trend looks great, and what I’ve heard concerning the Auris is also good. But if money is object, then a Lexus GS would fit the bill perfectly,’ Mike says.

And would he have another Toyota? ‘Certainly! But the Carina E looks like it’s going on forever, and you can’t just walk away from a best pal can you?’

Britain’s oldest Toyota Carina E 2

Britain’s oldest Toyota Carina E 3

139 comments

  1. Hi all I own a 1995 N reg 1.8 Toyota carina e it has been a great car reliable and trustworthy it’s now done over 312000 miles but finally succumbed to rust and it’s now become to expensive to get it through mot it’s been a great servant I brought it in September 2000 on 38000 miles and apart from normal minor repairs, alternator various suspension joints water pump etc it’s never let me down still original engine which has never been apart great car
    Sadly it’s got to go would anybody like it for spares for there own carina
    Melvin

  2. Hi there,

    I recently bought a one owner from new 1992 Toyota Carina E 1.6XLi, with 130k miles on the clock. Dealership was Eddy Grimshaw or Grimstead, in Bishops Stortford, Essex. She needs a bit of work to the body, bu the interior is almost as new. Have receipts for first 6000 mile service right through to a last service in December 2019.

    So does this make it one of the oldest ones about? I’ve joined the TEC and will hopefully bring her to some meets.

    Cheers,

    John.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for getting in touch. This may just be the case! We would love to hear more about your Carina. We will email you directly to discuss the possibility of being featured on our blog in more detail.

      Thanks.

  3. There’s a Carina local to me which was first registered in April 1993, registration A1 WLS, not being my car I’m unable to check the vin, would be interested to know if it’s UK or Japanese built.

  4. My mum, 88 years old, owns a Toyota Carina estate GL. Bought from new 1990, she has now decided after a lot of deliberation, that she no longer feels happy driving. The car has 89600 miles on the clock with full service history. It has full electric, sunroof/windows and is in good condition. Having checked on auto trader and we buy any car, I can’t find a guide price for the car. Would anyone have an idea on price?

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We hope the Carina has been a good companion over the years. This isn’t something we can do online, but having looked at other cars for sale on various used car websites, they don’t appear to be worth much generally.

      Thanks

  5. My Carina E GLI was built in Japan, first registered 30.11.1992 and has 63,300 miles on clock. I bought it in January 2017 with just 40,000 miles on clock for £450. A wonderful comfortable car with lean burn engine. The passenger side wing panel bit rusty now, so just bought a replacement on ebay last week. Other than that I’ve replaced the radiator & the exhaust.

    1. Hi G McClenahan,
      Thanks for contacting us. It’s great to hear that your Carina E GLI is still serving you so well!
      We wish you many more happy miles and adventures.
      Thanks.

  6. I had a 1988 Carina GL from new and kept it for 17 years, during which it covered 84000 miles. For many years it sat in my garage while i was away deep sea for months. On getting home the battery was still able to turn the engine over but you needed to try and start it, then leave it for an hour and it would fire up. Only breakdown was due to a partly blocked in line fuel filter going up a steep hill. New brushes for the starter motor, 4 shock absorbers, clutch, discs, pads, exhaust bits.Batteries and wipers. Radiator
    I only sold it on as it was too low for my mother to get into- the £300 the next owner paid for it was a bargain as he ran it until 135000 miles when the repair costs exceeded its value. Needed another new radiator, timing belt, wiper motor etc. it refused to start on the delivery day to the scrap yard, it must have known the end was coming.

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