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1977 Toyota Corolla Sport "Rallysprint Special"


#1

Thought I may as well share some information about my “race car”, being a Japanese made, Australian assembled 1977 Toyota Corolla Sport.
Now the story of how this car ended up in my shed goes all the way back to 1959 and this little bundle of sadness…

The 1959 Gogomobile Dart.
Imported into Australia by car builder Bill Buckle, these amazingly strange machines were built to sell more cars, a hero car, if you like.

Amazingly Mr Buckle made money, he made other Fiberglass cars of his own design and ended up importing Minis.

This however is a tenuous link and it was simply chance that Mr. Buckle became a dealer for the Brack family’s Australian Motor Imports, which imported Mercedes, Triumpth, Ramblers and Toyota’s.

AMI imported AMX Ramblers and Javelins

Eventually the public demand for big American muscle cars ran out (Within three years) and Toyota’s became their main import, Buckle sold Toyota’s, as did the legendary Peter Williamson, who is notable for being a smarty pants in a Toyota who did so much to build the brand.

(Pictured here is Williamson’s 1978 Celica having it’s boot hacked open to access the fuel filler)

And so, as a knock down kit, scores of Corollas made their way into Australia, being sold in Melbourne in 1968-1983 before Toyota bought them out and started building cars locally.

So at a point in 1977 a sales rep from Ballarat Victoria (Australia) bought a new car, being a 1977 Toyota Corolla Corolla-Sport (No, that is not a typo.) which is an Australia only model (which is not a good thing).

This little orange car would propel said sales rep daily from Ballarat to Mildura (a trip of around 500km) and aside from a few traffic incidents the car had a quiet life, sold at some point in the late 1980’s to my grandfather as a car for his wife, between then and 2009 it was run into by a Volvo, developed the ever so common ticks and hiccups old cars get and was finally slammed into the shed by my cousin who was learning to drive, covering over 200,000km in it’s lifetime.

Fast forward to 2010, Grandad has been dead for a year, Grandma has long since stopped driving and the car is left at my house, at this point I was a training mechanic and had just done a week at a panel shop, so, one morning young me goes into the shed and removes the entire front end of the Corolla, nothing more was done for two years and the little car is moved from shed to shed for a while…

It happens, by chance, that the young mechanic (me) becomes a navigator and does Tarmac rallies in his local racing club, which has a dirt track, and after those two years I finally bite the bullet and with the help of the real mechanics in my family, the engine is removed, the panels are repaired and the car is dissembled in May 2012.

The front chassis rails are filled with builders foam and the inside of the guard is painted with bitumen paint, this added around 5kg to the car total and it hasn’t had a speck of rust in the front end since.
The engine is modified, a lumpy race cam that is almost useless for what I really use the car for, ported heads, exhaust headers and the like, mid rebuild it’s found that one conrod had bent and the lifters were beyond repair, with the help of a Ford Australia engine builder the engine is rebuilt in a day and the car is running by September 2012.

Also the engine is now a beautiful shade of Candy Apple red, just because.
Tires are 1 inch wider

The car is ready to go by June 2013 and proceeds to win it’s class on an annual basis simply down to reliability and attending more events than my competitors.

2014 Club Champion 0-1800cc Cars

The race seat is a later addition to the car, simply due to the seat belts failing scrutinering and the fact that in corners I used to slide out of the vinyl seat and slide across the car.

The original carburetor is exchanged for a 32/36 DGAV Weber on a custom made mount from a Celica rally car with a ported intake.

The brakes are replaced after two seasons with similar units and the car is given it’s first major service.

And most recently, the car is given all new suspension, over 3 years it split a shock absorber on the front left and bent two front springs, racing units don’t exist for these cars and fitting AE86 units requires you to bend the steering arms(!) so the old dear runs on the same style suspension as before.

So, at the moment that’s where the car stands, currently off the road due to a spongy brake pedal due to a perished seal on the brake master cylinder.

The window sticker adds 45hp (proven fact)

Stats- 1977 Toyota Corolla KE30 Corolla Sport
“Ollie”
Colour - Toyota Red
Engine - 3K Inline 4
Displacement - 1166cc
Max RPM - 7200
Estimated HP - 125hp
Engine - Race Cam, ported head, flowed intake and exhaust headers, replaced con-rods and lifters
Carb.- Weber 32/36 DGAV
“Standard” Brakes and Suspension
Gears - 4
Diff - Standard
Weight - 860kg (950 with driver)
Interior - Race seat, harness and passenger seat, all trim removed
Speed - 135km/h @ 6500rpm (with tailwind downhill)
1/8th Mile - 19 seconds
Race seat and Harness
Really nice Bell helmet.

Now, with the engine needed restoration and a few panel repairs the car has cost me around $4000 over three years and only needs around $300 spent in maintenance annually.
It’s a cheap, fun form of club motorsport with a state-wide series for each discipline the car competes in and with the right car it can be done for even less.


#2

Really awesome read, what a story! Thanks for sharing this @BailsMackenzie :smile:


#3

Nice build … but, 125hp, 135km/h@6500 topspeed? Aerodynamics can’t be that bad, is it?


#4

Aerodynamics are fine, it’s the gearing.
These cars were frequently overtaken by 875cc Mini Coopers when they were circuit raced in the late 60’s early 70’s.
Next big upgrade is a 5-speed from the next model up to use some of that rev range.


#5

As Mr Clarkson once said, I’M HAVING A CRISIS

No seriously, absolutely fantastic car and story.


#6

i wish a race event is that easy to find where i am…


#7

Figured I may as well do a quick update for the 3-4 of you who’d be interested.
The Corolla is a few hours away from being brought home after what was meant to be a routine service and a spongy brake pedal.

Turns out, everyone I talked to, myself included thought that the spongy pedal was related to the brake booster failing, after all, I’d paid good money to a local brake service company to replace the master cylinder two years prior.

So we’ve replaced the master cylinder as the brake booster turned out to be fine, I now have a new place I go to for brake services.


#8

Hooley Dooley.
What was supposed to be a 10 minute pick-up, pay and head home job turned into 3 hours of mis-adventure and wallet draining pain.

Collecting the car went fine, until I stopped to talk to my mechanic, who is a close personal friend and a member of the same car club as me, so I got the news today that I’m now in the running for a committee position due to a massive upset within the club itself.

So I collected the car and went to the local race parts shop to pick up a catch-can that the head mechanic recommended I buy and upon leaving the car begins to miss.

I make it to the big roundabout in town and the car starts back firing like crazy, gunshot sounds every 3-4 seconds sort of thing, people are freaking out and I’m wondering what my mate did to my car. I stall soon after a railway crossing and park just out of a T intersection.

I spent a while waiting for the fuel to drain from the head, thinking it had flooded and after my mum showed up on her way home from her morning walk and gave me a push to safety, I found myself alone fiddling with the new choke cable I’d installed last year.

After 30 minutes I’d flattened the battery trying to start the car and was considering my options when a young fellow comes up, he lives across the road and insisted that he had a spare battery in his 4x4 and some jumper cables.

So I waited and sure enough, he returns with the battery and we spend another 20 minutes failing to start the car, he mentions that he’s not a mechanic (I’m a qualified apprentice mechanic myself) but he’s seen a lot of Roadkill and the “Roadkill Fam” should stick together (I’m more of an MCM man myself, but I do watch Roadkill) and the idea of a Roadkill fan working on my car really scares me!

Now he swaps my old battery with his new one and his new battery does something that my old battery couldn’t. Which is to generate enough current to spark the short-circuit in the aftermarket tacho wires.

I had paid someone to install the tacho wiring and they put a simple electrician’s wire sleeve over the two tacho cables, which due to the all-metal choke cable and the vibrations of a race car, caused the new cable to wear down the sleeve and make contact with the wires.

I got a burn to my fingertips when I touched the choke button to pull it in and the shock cut the choke cable in half and welded it up, meaning that due to the tensions on the cable, the choke was now stuck in the on position.

Roadkill guy has to go pay his rent when his mum shows up, so I wait around and give the car a short run until he returns and I borrow his spanner set to reattach my battery and use his pliers to cut up the choke cable so I can wind the choke off and start the car.

It starts fine and I pay Roadkill guy $10 for his troubles, he thanks me and gives me a “Chopped” salute as I finally leave the side of the road and head back on my way with a burst of acceleration and noise from the little engine accompanied by a cloud of clutch slip and tyre dust.

So it’s been a hell of a morning, and I’d still be having all these little short circuit issues if it wasn’t for Roadkill guy who took 45 minutes out of his day of gaming to get me back on the road.


#9

The saga of the self-harming Corolla continues, I’ll do a big update on the work done since February, but simply:

Within sight of the place the car last broke down, I was waiting to pick someone up from work in the Corolla, I had a new throttle cable made up and on the advice of a scrutineer at the track, had tucked the excess cable into a recess above the fuse box.

Yes, fuse box.

Did you know that 1970’s Toyota’s don’t have a back on their fuse box?

Because I found that out today.

Upon starting and giving the throttle a swift kick the excess cable fell into the fuse box, melting the end and welding the cable into the metal connection closest to the fuse box (Like last time due to the lack of power in the battery it saved me from stuffing up the entire cable) so the throttle jammed open for around 3 seconds while I switched it off.

Checked over the car and no damage was done, except the Tacho has spun 360 degrees and it now says idle RPM is 12,000 rpm…

So another day of fixing stuff I’d just fixed this afternoon, but I was really lucky to not blow up the throttle cable like I did to the choke.


#10

The Adventures of the Corolla continue, though for once the car performed almost perfectly.
I forget where I was up to in regards to fixing the car, but as of July 2017:
New brake master cylinder
Catch-can fitted
Found a nail in one of the tyres, changed it, also lowered the tyre pressures in general since I was wearing the centre out of the treads far faster than I should have been.
Washed the car.
Buried the taco in a cupboard somewhere and got on with my life.
And the cassette player died…

I took the car out last in June to blow up the Tacho and do some events, having got a severe bug that knocked me flat for a month and saw me miss out on the last of the June events before our lone July event was postponed so we could run a car-hire race event instead to make that sweet bank.


Last footage of the Tacho a week before it died.

That same day I ran the car in an Autocross (Dirt Time Attack) where I agreed to give a younger friend a drive of the car based upon his skill in the “works entry” Pulsar and then in the afternoon, I went train chasing.


And then I took some pictures.

(That one’s edited, I stuck two different pictures together)

Then, once I’d lost the Tacho, my mate and I took the car onto the WW2 runway that the track is built around and did what you guys would call an Autocross, but we call a Motorkhana and then later did a Khanacross, which is like a Motorkhana, but on steroids.

To deter my younger mate from dicking around in the car like he did last time, I attempted to put a throttle restrictor on, by nailing a block of wood onto a spare throttle pedal I pulled out of my parts car.
It was at the track, when I was replacing the pedal that I realised that the bolts holding the current pedal down were stripped and I couldn’t change the pedal, to his credit, my friend realised I was serious about this and he treated the car with respect, given that certain club members had told me not to let him drive the car again, I happily rubbed his good results and excellent driving in their faces.

To my satisfaction, based upon his good driving in my Corolla, he was given a drive of “The Galant” a car that is worthy of it’s own article, which I’ll write soon after.

The car is in the shed, waiting for the next Khanacross where it will, no doubt, be the same backmarker it has always been.

The crowning moment of the car came in the May Autocross though, our cars are launched in a way that there are 2-3 cars on track at the same time, depending on speed, the first few meetings I ran the Corolla I’d constantly find myself being hounded by a faster car.

Halfway around the lap I looked to my right as I went into our banked hair-pin and saw a Subura WRX hammering down on me like crazy.
I drove the wheels off the car and got around the track in 94 seconds, which is slow considering the 75 second lap record, but was a full 3 seconds faster than my best time in the car and I doubt I’ll ever drive it that fast again!


#11

Does not matter, is race car. Nothing else matters.


#12

THE GALANT

If “Ollie” is the sweet little Jack Russel of cars, jumping and barking and being lovely to everyone except it’s owner, then the Galant is a Jack Russel too, but it’s actually a greyhound wearing a Jack Russel costume


It’s got a 1.8L road car engine in it from an Eclipse (I think)
A 5 Speed from another Mitsubishi
And some other go-fast bits.

The owner has crafted this car from the ground up, twice. and while every time I see “Ollie” I am always reminded of the trips to the plant nursery with nan and grandad, he was free to build his car without being reminded of his dead grandparents.

The car has custom suspension mounts, with the Differential and shock towers being nowhere near the stock positions.
There are no trims inside the car, the radiator fan is manually operated and every panel is a wafer-thin skin, the bonnet and boot are totally removable and are held on by four pins each instead of anything that is used to lock and hold-up bonnets and boots.

At one point, the car came off it’s trailer during a long trip home and the entire car was bent out of shape, over the last year he fixed it and when I was given a drive of the car in March, the body was still out of line with the wheels.

But, the wheels were in line.

Thanks to a torrential rainstorm during the 1st lot of runs, I set the fastest time so far and almost spun out during my second run as I tried to take a corner at 90km/h in the rain which saw me fly off the track and hurriedly fight to keep half of the car on the road.

At the end of my drive of the Galant, I’d gone around the track 5 seconds faster than my best time in the Corolla, which I had yet to set at that point and it’s given me something to aim for if I can ever find a new car to work on. (I’m looking for a 1970’s Ford Cortina because Boxy I6’s are sex on wheels)


#13

Those are Victorian club plates I see, I shoulda known you were a fellow 'strayan!


#14


Watch this space…
Also, ouch, two years?