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Restored & Slammed Toyota Corolla AE71 With A Blacktop 4A-GE Swap

With a straight body and a bad engine, Cesar Fernandez knew he had to save this 4th-gen. Corolla from the junkyard.

Charles Trieu
Mar 30, 2020
Photographer: Scott Dukes

For a long time, I've been looking for someone Stateside to build a Corolla just like this one and at TORC's Toyotafest I finally found one. Cesar Fernandez's orange AE71 was one of the most impressive cars of the show. I have to admit, my first car was one of these generation Corolla but a coupe, and I hated it. But long after I got rid of it, I realized the '80s Toyota compact had some serious potential, maybe even more potential than the Honda I thought I traded up for.

Before we get into Cesar's Corolla, a little background on the platform. The fourth generation Corolla was made from 1979 to '83, and these cars were given the E70 to E75 series chassis code, the last number indicating body style and trim. The cars were available as a 2-door sedan, 4-door sedan, 5-door wagon, 2-door liftback, and 2-door sport coupe, and there was also a rare 2-door hardtop. As with all Toyota chassis codes, the first letter in the code indicates the engine; AE7x for 3A or 4A engines, CE7x for 1C engines, KE7x for 3K or 4K engines, and TE7x for 2T or 3T engines.

1983 Toyota Corolla AE71 Race Toys Velocity Stacks Photo 25/25   |   Old-school cars aren't complete until you see a throttle-body for each cylinder.

For some reason or another the KE70 4-door sedans have an underground cult following in Japan; check out the guys from Motor Fix Japan, for example ( You can find yourself one for much cheaper than its successor, the AE86. And the best thing about them, most of the parts from the AE86 will bolt onto a KE70. I don't have to tell you how many aftermarket parts are available for the AE86, now, do I? Adding to the madness, all 4A-GE engines easily fit in this car, including the twenty-valve AE101 and AE111&dsash;and that's exactly what Cesar Fernandez did.

Like myself, Cesar Fernandez's first car was a fourth generation Corolla. Back in 1990, in his homeland of the Philippines, he inherited an '81 KE70. The car was purchased brand-new in '81 by his family and still remains in their possession back in the motherland today. In 1999, Cesar moved to the US and parted with his KE70. It wasn't until 2004 that he decided he was going to build an old-school Toyota. An AE86 was too popular and common for his tastes. He needed something different and decided a '81 to '84 KP61 Starlet would be his first project car. As he embarked on his search, he realized he couldn't buy a Starlet. He had more of a connection with the E70 Corolla and had to have one.

Rollin' in Classic 'Rolla
No-Nonsense E70 Wagon from the House of Fatlace
Little Red Rider 1981 E70 Liftback

For two years, he saved up and purchased all the parts he needed to build his dream E70. In 2007, his gardener pulled up in an overheating white on blue '83 AE71 Corolla. With a straight body and a bad engine, Cesar knew he had to save this car from the junkyard. It took him about another year for arsenal of parts to be complete. In just six months' time he was able to transform the car into what you see before you.

1983 Toyota Corolla AE71 Front Grille 02 Photo 25/25   |   Restored & Slammed Toyota Corolla AE71 With A Blacktop 4A-GE Swap
1983 Toyota Corolla AE71 Front Grille 01 Photo 25/25   |   Chrome JDM bumpers are narrower and smaller than the rubber US counterparts.

The front and rear brakes, as well as the LSD rear-end from an AE86 GTS, were fitted to the AE71. The nasty sun-dried blue interior was swapped out and replaced with new black interior pieces. Hundreds of dollars were spent at the Cabe Toyota dealership parts department to cover the car with all new weather stripping. New orange paint was sprayed by none other than PJ Bonaficio Motorcars, owned by the notorious old-school Toyota-lover himself, PJ.

Giving the car new life, Raymond and Dee of Race Toys installed the blacktop AE111 4A-GELU. This being the newest and best of the 4A-GE engines, it comes with 20-valves and factory individual throttle-bodies. Race Toys also machined new velocity stacks for the throttle-bodies, as well as made custom lines to keep the factory air conditioning. Parts from Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Hong Kong and all over the world found their way to this car. The shorter thinner JDM chrome bumpers and JDM fender mirrors are some of my favorite mods for this car. With a working A/C and restored factory interior, you can tell that Cesar went about his build with a hot rod-style in mind.

1983 Toyota Corolla AE71 driver side profile Photo 25/25   |   Restored & Slammed Toyota Corolla AE71 With A Blacktop 4A-GE Swap

In the end Cesar Fernandez has put together one of, if not the, hottest Toyota AE71 Corolla Stateside—restored, slammed, and with a badass engine. So simple, so clean—the old-school way.

1983 Toyota Corolla AE71 Benjamin Cesar Fernandez Photo 25/25   |   Restored & Slammed Toyota Corolla AE71 With A Blacktop 4A-GE Swap
1983 Toyota Corolla AE71 Blacktop 4A GE Photo 25/25   |   Restored & Slammed Toyota Corolla AE71 With A Blacktop 4A-GE Swap


By Charles Trieu
161 Articles
Restored & Slammed Toyota Corolla AE71 With A Blacktop 4A-GE Swap
Tuning Menu
Owner: Benjamin Cesar Fernandez
Hometown: Fontana, California
Daily Grind: Nurse
Engine: Blacktop 1.6L 20-valve 4A-GE; NGK Iridium spark plugs; Toda cams, cam gears, flywheel and header; MagnaFlow custom exhaust; Mishimoto aluminum radiator; GReddy oil cooler; Tom's carbon spark plug cover; Race Toys velocity stacks
Drivetrain: T50 transmission; AE86 differential and half-shafts; ACT Stage 3 clutch kit; AE86 GTS LSD
Engine Management: EMS Stinger
Footwork & Chassis: Megan Racing coilover suspension for AE86
Brakes: AE86 GTS front and rear disc brakes, PBR pads, drilled and slotted rotors front and rear; Goodrich stainless steel brake lines
Wheels: 13x8 ATS Classic wheels
Exterior: custom front lip; flared fenders; AE86 coupe spoiler; Hella H4 headlights; JDM bumpers and mirrors
Interior: Nardi steering wheel; Auto Meter tachometer; TRD shift knob; converted to black interior; restored dash, seats, door panels and carpet audio Pioneer head unit and Blaupunkt speakers
Thank You: PJ Bonifacio crew; Race Toys crew; Raymond and Dee Gonzaga; especially my wife Melody Fernandez for the support and understanding when almost all my time was focused on building my Corolla



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