“He has finally lost the plot completely…” you’re thinking. How can anything possibly be both rare and still for the masses. Surely that’s about as contradictory as it gets. Uhmmm… yes. And no. So let me explain.
In 1966 Toyota launched the first Corolla – a subcompact, simple and cheap car which also managed to be well put together and hugely reliable transportation for the masses. It was Toyota’s “folkswagon”, and as such it performed remarkably. In fact, by 1997 it beat the real Volkswagen when the Corolla model overtook the old Beetle as the most sold nameplate in automotive history. And as early as 1974 – only eight years after the model was introduced – the then brand-new third-generation Corolla became the best-selling model worldwide that year. Something it has since achieved more times than I care to count. So clearly, this is a car for the masses.
Yet only two years into Corolla production, Toyota launched the first coupé bodied Corolla called the Sprinter, and there commenced a proud tradition for small performance coupés based on the simple and rugged Corolla chassis. With the introduction of the second-generation Corolla, these coupés were even available with a range-topping 1.6-litre twincam engine leading to rather impressive performance figures, a thoroughly engaging drive and the legendary model today known as the “Mango”. So therein lies the rarity, and these cars are today hugely coveted by collectors of Nippon steel.
All of which leads us to the third-generation Corolla launched in 1974. This was a bigger car than its predecessor and it also ended up being the most long-lived Corolla of them all. But not one to rest on their laurels, Toyota expanded the reach of their Corolla even further. Bodies were available in both two-door and four-door saloons, three-door and four-door estates, a rather funky three-door sports estate similar in concept to the Reliant Scimitar, and even two different versions of a coupé with one being a two-door pillarless coupé based on the two-door saloon, while the other two-door coupé received a unique body of its own utilising the nose cone of the sports estate. It’s one of these last coupés which I have previously owned, and I have to confess that of all the classics which I have sold over time, this is the car I most regret letting go. I absolutely adored my Japanese-market-only 1977 Toyota Sprinter Trueno 1600GT with its cool far-eastern styling, it’s excellent rear wheel drive chassis and that spine-tingling 2T-G twincam engine which just revved and revved.
So yes, I am arguably somewhat biased as to what I’ve come across here. This is the other coupé. Not the bodystyle I used to own, but the pillarless coupé with the front end of the regular Corolla saloon. As such, it’s not quite as rare, and in my eyes at least, it’s also not quite as good looking. But it’s still a pillarless coupé, and I’m sure we’ll all agree that this is always a good thing! More to the point, it’s orange. And when I say orange, I mean ORANGE!! Surely, this should entice anyone with even the slightest appreciation of the seventies. Frankly, I think it looks absolutely astonishingly cool in every perceivable way. But then I’ve always had a profound weakness for cool Jap classics like this.
This Corolla is from 1976, and is the KE35 model. Unfortunately the “K” in that internal designation code means that there’s no twincam to be found in this Corolla. Instead it comes with OHV 1.6-litre 2T engine – a strong and sturdy chain-driven engine produced by Toyota from 1970 to 1985. But it’s not all practical and boring seeing as this is a 1600SR – the second most sporty version of the third-generation Corolla – which translates into dual carburetors and a bit of attitude. Inside that’s complimented by a full instrumentation and a lovely 3-spoke imitated wooden steering wheel (that actually looks a lot better than it sounds), and there’s even anthracite grey sports steel wheels to boot. Oh, and did I mention the orange paintwork?
This particular Corolla 1600SR Coupé is a lhd version currently for sale from Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira. As is annoyingly so often the case, there is decidedly sparse information given in the advert. But the seller points out that the car is 100% original and in incredible condition. Granted, the pictures certainly suggest this is truly the case. See for yourself:
I would love to relive my seventies-Toyota-coupé-experience, but sadly I presently neither have the spare cash nor the garage space. So instead I’ll pass on to our ViaRETRO readers, this very orange and utterly fabulous Nippon coupé for sale at £ 13,500 currently equating to Euro 15,400, which conveniently includes free shipping to mainland Europe.
If you’re just a fraction as tempted as me, you’ll need the full advert: 1976 Toyota Corolla 1600SR Coupé
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org