Its Coke bottle style body screams sexy. From the A-Pillar to its semi-rounded roofline, you can’t help but think, was there a Porsche 911 parked outside by the office window when its designer was sketching its lines?
The TE27 is the coupe variant of the E20 series (second generation) Corolla. Came out in the market in 1970, the new Corolla is slightly bulkier than its E10 series predecessor. This was the series that practically put the Corolla marque on the map as it was during this time when Corolla sales skyrocketed to eventually become one of the best-selling cars in the world.
These Corollas are the favorites among old school tuners. If you were active in the car culture during the 70s (and 80s), the TE27 were the relatively common cars you would see racing on the strips (and the streets) as these were easily hot-rodded by enthusiasts, taking advantage of its good power to weight ratio.
Dennis Aquino is one of those Corolla aficionados. He owns a shop in Los Angeles that specializes in old school Japanese cars. The love for cars has always been in his blood and he had built many award winning vintage Japanese cars for his clienteles. Although, Dennis’ first love was the TE31 Corolla, he was influenced by other Filipino Old Schoolers to build a TE27 instead. While working on other people’s car is his bread and butter, building one for himself many times have been put on the side. So when the time came for him to purchase his own personal project, he not only wanted everything to be done right, he wants his build to be according to his taste and with all the specifications he wanted, and yes, cost is no object.
Among the TE27s in the U.S., Dennis wanted the 1973 model because it was a one-year only deal in the USDM where the front signal lenses are round. But with the increasing demand on these Corollas, finding the correct year may be a challenge, so Dennis did settle for a 1974. He will just have to do a few of his magic tricks in converting it to look like a 73.
The Corolla that Dennis acquired was a running project and so it was sort of a blank canvass to him. Ergo, he can now create the perfect weekend car he has always envisioned.
Soon as Dennis acquired the car, it went straight to his body shop and was painted a bright apple kind of green, a color that he was fascinated with when he saw an RX7 featured at Super Street Magazine bearing the same paint scheme. An apple color on a mango – why not? No, it’s not a straight color. The paint was a by-product of mixtures of different colors in order for Dennis to come up with the perfect green he had in mind.
The car was powered by a SOHC 2T motor when Dennis initially acquired the TE27. That motor was later on dumped for a beefier more powerful high compression DOHC 2TG motor with dome pistons and twin side Solex-Mikuni 40s. This motor breathes out to an F1 style headers built by Dan’s Toy of Los Angeles CA and the car is fueled by E85 racing gas.
This TE27 sits low on 13” SSRs wrapped with 185 60 13 front and 205 60 13 rear Toyo R88 tires. The interior has also been partly redone and the factory seats were replaced with new Corbeau Racing seats. The steering wheel had also been replaced with Momo for a more boy racer feel.
This TE27 has been living up to Dennis’ plan. He drives it often on weekends and has been a regular at car meets in Southern California. Since it’s debut 2 years ago, the car had won a few prestigious awards from some of the big shows including the Toyota Fest and the Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach.
They say the TE27 is the poor man’s Porsche. I don’t know about it as the TE27 has a class of its own. And with a growing market on vintage Japanese cars, I wouldn’t be surprised if its value would one day catch up to its contemporary European cars. Who could resist Mangos anyway? (especially green ones)
Happy Lumang Oto motoring!
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