Article by Stephen Darby. Photography by Tyrone Roberts.
When we received an invitation to attend a private Old School meet, sponsored by SNTRL and Nostalgia Imports in Edgewater, New Jersey, we jumped at the chance. Many heavily modified imports competed for our attention, but we managed to focus on a vehicle that represents one of our future series highlighting the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) scene in America. While there was no shortage of premium imports, one classy 1983 KE70 Toyota Corolla seemed the perfect specimen.
We had a chance to sit down and talk about his car with Raymond "Junior” Diaz, the owner of the KE70 and a true automotive artist and old-school Toyota enthusiast.
With "keeping the old school alive” as a mantra, New Jersey residents Junior Diaz and his brother Peter founded the car club "Team Toyminator” in 2000. Team Toyminator membership is limited to owners of pre-1987 Toyota vehicles who have displayed a high degree of tenacity in building a top-tier vintage vehicle as well as a dedication to the modified lifestyle, which is possibly the reason that current membership has been restricted to ten core enthusiasts, with chapters in Northern and Central New Jersey.
On family vacations in Puerto Rico, Junior was introduced to the world of modified automobiles. His older cousins and friends owned, drove, and created modified rides. From a young age, he showed more than a passing interest, often riding in the cars and spending time with the owners until he had the opportunity to buy his own car.
In 1995, Junior bought his first car. His passion for vintage import cars, the people, and the lifestyle led him to go against his parents’ advice to purchase a brand-new vehicle. Instead, he chose a $650 "rust bucket” that was going to need constant attention. It was a 1980 Toyota Corolla, and it became a canvas upon which Junior would express himself. He enjoyed the camaraderie of his family members and friends who were also heavily involved in the restoration and enhancement of high-performance vintage cars.
When the time was right to have the 1980 Corolla repainted, Junior needed another ride, both for personal transportation and upon which to hone his creative skills. The JDM model KE70 1983 Toyota Corolla rear-wheel drive coupe would be Junior’s next project. He fully intended to sell this car, once the ’80 was ready to drive, but grew so attached to it that he decided there was enough Junior to go around; as a result, each of these fine Toyotas continues to evolve as an expression of his creative genius and an example of his dedication to building high-quality modified imports.
1983 JDM KE70 Toyota Corolla Coupe
After several engine swaps, which included a Toyota 4-AGE unit and a high-compression hybrid 4-AG, Junior had the opportunity to ride in a fellow club member’s Corolla, which had been upgraded with a turbocharged 2.0-liter Nissan engine. Afterward, Junior went straight home, picked up the phone, and sold his 4-AG running gear. Then he went to the JDM Depot in Kearny, New Jersey, and purchased a 1991 SR20-DET. The rest, as they say, is history.
The SR20-DET Nissan engine was used in production from 1989 through 2002. "SR” is the Nissan engine group; "20” signifies 2.0 liters of displacement, the "D” represents its dual-overhead camshaft configuration, electronic fuel injection merits the "E,” and the "T” is a big one—turbocharged! Since the SR20 is factory engineered to accommodate forced induction, no additional internal engine modifications were required.
The SR20-DET would undergo a turbocharger transformation in the form of a Turbonetics T3/T4 turbocharger. With ceramic ball bearings, it features low inertia and quick spool, combined with high airflow capacity. A high-flow AFCO intercooler, handcrafted polished aluminum piping, custom turbo manifold, and HKS 200mm cold air filter ensure that it has all of the clean, cool air it needs to deliver the proper degree of air density needed to obtain optimum results. Other notable turbo modifications include a Tial wastegate, with a Greddy blow-off valve and boost controller.
With excessive amounts of air being induced into the engine, fuel supply must be increased and carefully monitored. An Aeromotive fuel pump provides the volume, which is carried through AN fuel lines. An Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator keeps things in proper perspective, and the Apexi Power FC stand-alone ECU gives Junior total control, right in the palm of his hand. Spent exhaust gases are carried away through custom-made three-inch exhaust pipes and HKS High-Power exhaust components. Power is distributed to the pavement by a Fe Racing Fabrication custom-made narrowed Ford nine-inch rear differential.
A Techno Toy battery tray tidies up the underhood area, where an Odyssey high-amp battery pumps out the starting voltage.
Keeping things cool is an AFCO heavy-duty two-row radiator and a Greddy breather tank coolant reservoir.
With excessive horsepower, braking demands increase. Helping to bring this prime JDM sled safely to a halt are key braking system improvements, which include a Wilwood "Big Brake Kit” with four-piston calipers (front and rear), a Ford Mustang brake master cylinder, and an adjustable Wilwood proportioning valve.
The improved power-to-weight ratio, created by the potent engine swap and turbo upgrades, demands a greater degree of stabilization, in both the body and suspension. A fully adjustable Cusco A/S aluminum strut bar, Aerospeed support bar and floor brace, and Jubiride monocoque triple bar help to stabilize the body, while an adjustable four-link rear suspension, Cusco front anti-sway bar, and custom pan-hard bar help to straighten out those curves. Greddy coilovers give the ’83 Corolla just the right height and stance, while smoothing out the rough spots. It rides on sixteen-inch Volk Old School Racing wheels.
The interior features custom-sewn, leather-upholstered Integra front seats, beautifully done in blue and white, with "Twin Cam 16” and a triangular design just below the headrests. A Nardi classic steering wheel and B&M Shortshifter give the cockpit an "all business” feel, along with a HKS shifter knob and Cusco drifting effects knob (on the emergency brake release handle).
An Alpine audio control head unit, a full set of Autometer gauges, Accel LCD monitor, along with power-operated windows, trunk, and door locks lend an elegant air to the vintage Toy. The Viper car alarm and remote start provide both convenience and protection. Six-and-a-half-inch MB Quartz speakers in custom-made fiberglass kick panels finish out the audio system.
The paint is OEM white with blue pearl. JDM chrome bumpers and HID headlight conversion kits, along with mooneyes plate screws, give the exterior a modern appeal while still screaming "Old School.” We look forward to more great things from Junior Diaz and the other club members at Team Toyminator, including a look at his 1980 Toyota Corolla, in the near future.
This awesome KE70 prompts us to wonder what is next in the Revvolution quest to further reveal worthy JDM vehicles. Whatever it is, you can rest assured that forthcoming "JDM in America” features will faithfully represent the modified lifestyle.
You can reach Team Toyminator at www.teamtoyminator.org, and they are also available on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
BUILD AT A GLANCE
1991 SR20DET SWAP
Turbonetics T3/T4 Turbocharger
Custom Intercooler Piping
Custom Turbo Manifold
Tial Waste Gate
Greddy Blow Off Valve
Afco Custom Intercooler
Afco Custom 2 Row Aluminum Radiator
Aeromotive Fuel Pressure Regulator
Aeromotive Fuel Pump
AN Fuel Lines
Greddy Breather Tank
HKS 200mm Filter
3" Exhaust Piping
HKS Hi Power Exhaust
Apexi Power FC Stand Alone
Greddy Boost Controller
Fe Racing Garage Custom Ford 9" Rear
Techno Toy Tuning Battery Tray
Cusco A/S Strut Bar
Jubiride Monocoque Triple Bar
Cusco Sway Bar
Ford Mustang Brake Master
Wilwood Adjustable Valve Control
Cusco Pan Hard Bar
Wilwood Front and Rear Big Brake Kit with 4 Piston Calipers
Adjustable Four-link Rear Suspension
16" Volk Racing Wheels
JDM Chrome Bumpers
JDM Headlight Conversion
"Mooneyes" Plate Screws
Intergra Front Bucket Seats
Custom Blue/white Upholstery
Aero Speed Support Bar
Aero Speed Floor Brace
Nardi Classic Steering Wheel
HKS Shift Knob
Cusco Spin Turn Knob
Alpine Head Unit
Accel LCD In-dash Monitor
MB Quarts 6-1/2" Speakers in Custom Fiberglass Kick Panels
B&M Short Shifter
Power Door Locks
Viper Alarm & Remote Start