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1983 Toyota Corolla AE71 - Thought You Knew

It's The Other Badass Corolla You've Never Heard Of

Charles Trieu
Nov 1, 2009
Photographer: Scott Dukes

For a long time I've been waiting for someone stateside to build a Corolla just like this one and at TORC's Toyotafest I finally did. Cesar Fernandez's orange AE71 was one of the most impressive cars at the show. I have to admit, my first car was one of these generation Corollas (but a coupe), and I hated it. But long after I got rid of it, I started to realize they had some serious potential. Maybe even more potential than the Honda I traded up for.

Before we get into Cesar's Corolla let's bring you up-to-speed. The fourth generation Corolla was made from '79-83 and these cars were given the E70-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, 2-door sport coupe and 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. 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 - and that's exactly what Cesar Fernandez did.

2019 Toyota Corolla
$18,700 Base Model (MSRP) 28/36 MPG Fuel Economy

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 taste. He needed something different and decided a '81-84 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.

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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.

The front and rear brakes as well as the LSD rear-end from an AE86 GTS were fitted to the car. The nasty sun-dried blue interior was swapped out and replaced with new black interior pieces. Hundreds of dollars were spent at Cabe Toyota dealership to cover the car with all new weatherstripping. 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, 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.

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In the end Cesar Fernandez has put together one of, if not the, hottest E70 Corolla stateside. Restored, slammed and a badass engine. So simple, so clean - the old school way.

Fast Facts
1983 Toyota Corolla AE71
Benjamin Cesar Fernandez
Hometown: Fontana, CA
Daily Grind: Nurse
Under The Hood: 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

Sstp_0911_13+1983_toyota_corolla_ae71+left_drive_by Photo 13/23   |   1983 Toyota Corolla AE71 - Thought You Knew

Drivetrain: T50 transmission; AE86 differential and half-shafts; ACT Stage 3 clutch kit; AE86 GTS LSD

Brains: EMS Stinger

Stiff Stuff: Megan Racing coilovers for AE86

Stoppers: AE86 GTS front and rear disc brakes, PBR pads, drilled and slotted rotors front and rear; Goodrich stainless steel brake lines

Sstp_0911_24+1983_toyota_corolla_ae71+front_chrome_bumper Photo 14/23   |   1983 Toyota Corolla AE71 - Thought You Knew

Rollers: 13x8 ATS Classic wheels

Outside: custom front lip; flared fenders; AE86 coupe spoiler; Hella H4 headlights; JDM bumpers and mirrors

Inside: 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

Props: 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,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

By Charles Trieu
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