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
Colour - Toyota Red
Engine - 3K Inline 4
Displacement - 1166cc
Max RPM - 7200
Estimated HP - 55hp (Yeah, spent ages thinking it was 125… not even close…)
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.