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1986 AE 86 RWD Corolla GT Project 

SOLD! - To the fool with the big grin…. 

Up here in Auckland, Turners have basically cornered the market for the disposal of damaged vehicles. Every Monday they have an auction, and for the past two years I have received the weekly fax of their auction catalogue. Normally it runs to about 40 vehicles, and so I have been keeping an eye out to see what appears, however as I have never really had the time to attend the actual auction, nor the money to buy a wreck as a project donor vehicle, nor the time to actually do something with one, it has been more of a passing interest only - until I noticed they had gone on line…..Yup - www.turners.co.nz - check it out. It is a searchable website of all their auctions nation-wide. Damaged cars are listed under ‘salvage’. Anyway, about a month ago I was sniffing about the web, and noticed a 1990 Toyota Supra 3 litre Turbo was in the auction. A picture was included:

Now, for the uninitiated, this car had gone through a fence, and rolled. (Not that you would guess from looking at it!) The car is a MA 70 Supra - has a 24 valve 7MGTE turbo 6 cylinder, which develops about 230 horses stock, but picks up about an extra 30 when you free up the exhaust. Add more boost, and you can achieve 350 horses no problems at all. I was interested in it because it had an 8" 4 spider LSD, fully independent suspension (super strut type - twin wishbones, but with a McPherson strut type coil/damper set up - got to be a good starting point for coil overs - if you can’t use the arms, the uprights will be useful), vented discs all round, plus cruise control, air con, 4 speed auto, excellent electric seats and 16" rims. Some have ABS as well. Good start for the Woodie, I thought.

Basically it could supply all the running gear (except motor and gearbox, as I really want a V8), plus central locking, power windows, aircon, cruise control, front seats, alarm and stereo - all at a very good price due to the extent of the body damage - however I don’t need the body…The engine and trans could go into the White Celica (well, what else would I do with it?!) as this engine is a bigger version of the 2.8 non-turbo GT Supra motor of my Celica’s generation, hence the engine will bolt in with bits from the wreckers. Also I could bolt my existing close ratio manual gearbox up with the 2.8 bell housing, clutch etc. It was a pity the Supra had the auto ‘box - the rare manual box that comes behind this engine is super heavy duty, and virtually indestructible - good for 400 plus horsepower.

Anyway, I decided I had better go and have a look. This was the first auction of the year, and they had about 150 cars - their biggest ever. They were all laid out quite neatly, so I had a look around. Parked in front of the Supra was a 1986 RWD Corolla Levin - or so I thought. I have always wanted one of these as a road car. This car looked immaculate, other than a mangled front left corner. I popped the bonnet, and sure enuff, there was a 4AGE 16 valve EFI 1600. I had a look at the chassis plate, which was not formatted like the Japanese ones - hmm, maybe it’s a Kiwi one…. (Toyota sold two shipments new here in 1985 so the race guys could get one). The Kiwi ones were all LSD, so I had a peek, and sure enuff, the diff had ‘LSD’ on a sticker. Closer inspection of the chassis plate confirmed it was a 4.3 ratio 6.7" 2 spider LSD, which is the one to have (4 spider diffs in this size are an aftermarket TRD item only). The car also had 15" mags, and a host of other goodies, which I won’t bore you with.

Anyway, I was a little concerned over the Supra, as the picture showed the good side, and it had snapped a ball joint on the rear suspension. Also I was a little unsure about the engine - it looked fine, but the bonnet had bent and popped the top radiator hose off, so I had no idea if the engine had cooked or not - to say nothing of the turbo. The huge intercooler looked OK though. The Corolla on the other hand looked really promising. To cut an even longer story short, I decided to bid for the Corolla (it was up before the Supra) and if I was unsuccessful, go for the Supra. The auction was entertaining - especially watching the old hands make minute gestures that were noticed by the auctioneer. I was terrified of scratching myself and buying a car! ‘My’ cars were about 100 cars into the auction, which took a couple of hours to get to, but I figured I had better get a feel for the prices and goings on.

I ended up getting the Corolla for $800, plus $75 auction fee. My heart was racing, and I think at one stage I was so excited I may have been bidding against myself! I was prepared to go to $1100. The car is in excellent condition (except for the corner) and basically needs a new inner and outer guard (but the ‘chassis’ rail seems virtually undamaged), plus bonnet, headlight and indicator. It drives perfectly, but it has been de-registered, so I have to go through an engineer’s report etc, however at the end of the day I hope to repair it to a good standard and use it as everyday transport, and then sell the Celica.

I have always wanted one of these cars, and to get one rust free now is hard. As it turns out this car was actually sold new in the UK, so it has nice extras like oil cooler, 150 mph speedo, full factory body kit, electric sunroof, original stereo etc. It is officially a Corolla GT, and not a Levin like the Japanese models are called. My plan is to buy a Japanese one that has been hit from behind, and use the parts to fix this one. Reckon I should end up with an almost perfect example for less than $2500 (plus time) when the equivalent would sell for about $5-6000. Odds are I can sell off what I don’t need to finance the repairs. Here is a picture of one a friend (Andre) has just rebuilt, and sold for $5000: 

Anyway, the Supra went for $1100 plus the auction fee. A lot of cars went for much more. I thought the Corolla was a bargain, but the Supra to me was worth about $800, due to the possibility of dead engine/trans/turbo. If the Corolla is not able to be fixed, I can strip it and most likely get over $3000 back - given that the LSD is worth over $1000 on its own, and a 4AGE with full loom, computer and gearbox is a steal at $750, to say nothing of the rest - I figure I can’t lose.

I will most definitely be on the look out for another Supra later in the year (once I get the Corolla fixed or whatever), as the basis for the Woodie. There is a rare Supra which has the 2.5 litre twin turbo 1JZGTE engine, which is 300 horse stock. This engine is the little brother of the current generation 3 litre twin turbo Supra motor - not to be snubbed at. Whilst the motor may not be the V8 that ideally I am after, the reality is this 2.5 twin turbo in stock form has more power and torque than the V8, and if you wind the boost up a bit well over 350 horsepower is available. Regardless, the remainder of the components are ideal for a fully independent high performance vehicle (one day my brother in law will build a Cobra - we will probably build our own chassis - here is a good start…)

Even better would be a Soarer - same underpinnings (effectively) as the Supra, but with the 4 litre quad cam 1UZ V8 - however these will probably still be up about 4 grand to get as a wreck. So, the lesson is, don’t bypass the damaged car auction - admittedly you need to know what you are looking at, and what it is worth to you, but some excellent bargains can be found - if you can wait long enough for one to turn up… In this respect, Auckland has an advantage with the greater number of vehicles.

At the same time, some prices are ridiculous - a 1993 V8 Commodore Ute that had gone sideways into a power pole so hard that the whole thing was bent, the transmission and diff were broken, no panels were useable, and the interior was mangled, went for $5000….about the only useful components were the engine and wheels. I ran into a panel beater friend at the auction, and he could not see how some of the vehicles were worth half what they sold for - so have some discipline, and know when to say no.

Also it pays not to be too fussy - whilst I would love to throw a 2 litre MR2 turbo 3SGTE (say 245 horse) motor into the Corolla down track (why not?!), for the cost of getting a damaged MR2 I can most likely also get a damaged Nissan 200 SX Turbo - with the 240 horse all alloy SR20 DET 2 litre motor and RWD gearbox, as opposed to trying to make the 3SGTE RWD, which is a LOT of work. Likewise, the Woodie may end up being a twin turbo six - perhaps a Nissan Skyline engine…depends on what is available.

Irrespective, I certainly intend to go back to the auction. Perhaps you should too. 

Next: DOHC KP 61 Starlet 


Copyright © 2000 SpeedTECH Last modified: January 23, 2000