1972 Toyota Corolla

A cool old school build

Arguably, there are a lot of classic Japanese cars that can be deemed as iconic. But somehow this particular one seems to pull rank among the rest, most especially in our local car culture. It’s none other than a second gen, 1972 Corolla coupe. A hugely popular platform for tuning back in the day. It was so versatile that it can be set up for drag, slalom and even rallying. Its propensity for sporting an engine-swapped twin cam engine and use in motorsports probably explains why it’s still commonly referred to as a ‘Sprinter’. Incorrect as it may be, Toyota did come up with a Sprinter Trueno and a Corolla Levin with a twin cam engine, but these were only released in Japan. Unfortunately, this left our local enthusiasts with no choice but to concoct their own engine-swapped versions of a Sprinter or a Trueno. How most so-called ‘Sprinter’ setups looked like back in the day and the mods employed are perfectly exemplified by our featured Corolla.

Despite having an eclectic collection of American and European performance-oriented cars, John Paul Pe has a soft spot for classic Toyotas. In addition to his AE86 Corolla Levin, he also owns a ’72 Corolla coupe that he acquired for some time. Like most, John also yearned to have a modded Corolla that was reminiscent of ‘Sprinter’ builds. The ones he remembers that used to roam around Greenhills during the eighties. So off it went to Shelby Auto Station of Egai Luis Ortiz whose firsthand experience in restoring and modding such cars make him highly capable. Apart from the usual bodywork, the shop tinsmith also fabricated a set of custom fender flares. These are identical to the ones found on the Japanese spec ‘Sprinter Trueno’. Looking at it, the quality and handiwork of each piece is worthy of praise.  Overall, the flares serve a purpose and greatly enhance the look of the car, which matches its ‘Mango-like’ body shape.

Being prone to engine swaps, the Corolla already had a modern 16-valve, 4AGE, engine as compared to the older 2TG or 18RG engines when John got it. To keep the old school theme flowing, it features all the old school engine mods such as, pair of Weber 45 DCOE carburetors, TRD intake manifold, MSD 6AL ignition box, custom spark plug wires, Holley fuel pump, and custom headers. Power is sent through a T-50, 5-speed manual transmission over to a ten bolt rear differential. The T-50 is light and strong, plus a close set of gear ratios make it the choice when it comes to modded Toyota engines.

The basic Toyota interior has been kept mostly in its as-is original condition save for some re-upholstery work on the door cards and seats. Equipped with just the essentials needed to operate the car, it presents a stark contrast against today’s overly cluttered interior full of switches and knobs. Body modifications only consist of the fender flares, the smooth engine bay and a fresh coat of Anzahl brown urethane paint, which stays perfectly true to the classic old school vibe.

Neatly filling the flared wheel openings is a staggered set of 13-inch, TOSCO TRD wheels that really give the car its character and street cred. Highly rare and valuable, these wheels are considered as the holy grail and the most sought after by old school Toyota enthusiasts. These are mounted on Yokohama Advan A032R intermediate tires that are able to accommodate the extra width of the rare wheels.

It isn’t a Japanese-spec, Sprinter Trueno or a numbers matching factory stock restoration, but one thing’s for sure. John is certainly enjoying his resto-modded, Japanese classic and is every bit pleased with how the whole build went. He even mentions that merely getting in the car and letting the engine idle relieves him of stress as it takes him back in time. A time when having a good time meant simply showing off your ride in a parking lot. John’s Corolla isn’t just another great example of a classic Toyota that’s built right; it presents another story of an enthusiast and his quest in realizing his dream car.




1972 Toyota Corolla

John Paul Pe

Engine: 4AGE, 1.6-liter, 16-valve, DOHC, Inline-4

Engine Mods: Weber 45 DCOE carburetors, TRD Intake Manifold, Silicone hoses, MSD 6AL ignition box, custom spark plug wires, Holley fuel pump, Custom headers and exhaust, wrinkle finished valve cover

Transmission: T-50, 5-Speed manual 

Suspension: Coil overs, front camber plate,

Rollers: TOSCO TRD Wheels (F-13x8, R-13x9), Yokohama Advan A032R (200/50VR13) 

Other Stuff: Momo steering wheel, USDM (5-miler) bumpers, Blue Glass, Refurbished body trim

Body & Paint: Shelby Auto Station using Paint Code 423 Brown by Anzhal Paint

Kudos To: Ronnie Castro, Rochelle Castro, Kaloy Santos, Orlan Cepeda, Edwin Santos

Sponsors: Color Vision by Alex Ong, Jason Fonbuena of Meguiar's, Anzahl Urethane Paints, Archipelago Builder's Company, GKPPC Manila, Atong Ko of Ichiban Motors