Corolla new & old

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Today, you will find a news article about the 2009 Toyota Corolla that is coming out in February. It is the 10th generation of the best-selling vehicle in history.

Since 1966 (1968 in the U.S.), Toyota has sold more than 35 million Corollas. Today, it comes as a sedan and a wagon (Matrix).

I have owned one Toyota -- a 1972 Corolla (Latin for "small crown"). It was the perfect car for a college student. A coupe with a 1.6-liter engine and manual transmission, it scooted around the narrow streets of the college town and the ever elusive parking spaces on and near campus.

It had good economy, decent room, admirable zip and one option: a rear-window defroster. That was still a novelty in the 1970s. There was no air conditioning or power accessories.

It was a fun car, but the clutch kept going out, completely and unexpectedly. Fortunately, the campus had a good bus system.

Gas in those days had soared beyond 50 cents a gallon, but my Corolla wasn't a binge drinker. That alone would be a good reason for driving it today -- with a new clutch or two.

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