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nothingsfree's Toyota Corolla Ke70


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Hey guys, back again after another year sweating my ass off in West Oz. Decided I should start a new build thread for my ke70, seeing as its a different build and direction from the old rust heap, although it will be using some of the same parts. So abit of background to bring the build up to present...
I picked up Kermit as one of those great condition, old lady owner cars. She gifted it to the solo mum next door when she died, who somehow, managed to kill the trusty ol 4k engine. I bought it cheap, everything sweet apart from the 1300cc push rod anchor. After dropping in a reconned 4k I had lying around, it became my daily driver for ages. Stock standard apart from cutties and a set of 14x6.5 Longchamps.
After my other dx, a race car project, came to a sudden halt after finding large amounts of car cancer in the wiper tray, firewall, chassis, and A pillar, Kermit was signed up for the job instead.
In the back of my mind, I kept hearing the old saying; don't race anything you're not willing to push off a cliff. Which although, maybe a little extreme, does hold some truth. So the decision was made to scrap the race car idea, and keep him as a road going car. Of course I didn't make that decision until I had already stripped the car bare, cut out the firewall/gbox tunnel, and sold or dumped everything but the shell and exterior panels.

I found a new home for the 13b turbo engine in a FC rx7, which has taken over as the race car project. Unfortunately the rest of the new parts i had collected were of no use in the rx7. The good news is, I have all these shiny new parts, and nothing else to do with them, so although Kermit is to stay a road car, the performance will be better than your average dx, or alot of other cars on the road for that matter...

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Shopping list post, basically all the parts I already had for the race car, plus some new stuff that will be going in...

The first decision was what to replace the 13bt with. Because the car is going to see alot of use, both in the city and round the hills/open road, I decided I wanted something reliable, good on gas, and enough power to have some fun with. After a few outings in a mates ae85, the Surfab notchback, with a Beams 3sge, I was sold. Although standard, with only itb's and a Link G4 ecu, it still managed to make 205rwhp on NZEFI's dyno. It may not be heaps, there are plenty of standard cars making more these days, but with less than 900kg to move, well...


I bought a bunch of T3 parts back in 08 when the NZ dollar was really strong against the US. The 4link kit, castor arms, and rca's are mine, the other parts were for a mate.



Lightweight billet flywheel for the 3sge to replace the dual mass heap.


Excedy HD clutch, decided not to get anything too hard out, as it is going to basically be a daily driver.


I picked these up at the start of last year, cheers to Dave and Max from Japrace for sorting them out. The HSD's are an upside down design, and rather than a weld on tube, they are a complete strut including stub axle. They also include their own rca's which is pretty sweet.


The standard ecu would be fine, but Im planning to run itb's, so a Link G4 Storm was the best option.


And lastly, some bigger feet for Kermit. Longchamps have always been my favourite oldschool wheels, so Iv stuck with the same, tho in a larger size. Up from 14x6.5, to 15x9.


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After searching for abit, I found a "low km, good condition engine and box" out of a crashed Altezza. Unfortunately, the seller had somehow forgot to mention the fact that the cambelt tensioner had been broken in the crash, and due to the Beams interference design, the engine had grenaded itself. There was nothing salvageable from the block, more than half of the valves had snapped off and smashed around the cylinders, the rest were badly bent. The head and bores were destroyed by the rampaging valves. As for the pistons, well this valve was so imbedded in the piston, even with vice grips i couldn't get it out. The rest werent much better.


A reminder that there are some scumbags on trademe. Anyway, I picked up another engine cheaply, although the new one is from an auto. There are a few small differences with the valves etc, which means it has a slightly lower power output, it retains the same torque, though from 1000rpm lower. Will find out when I get in on the dyno, eventually.

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So Kermit was driven round to the workshop, to begin the transformation. This is the last photo of him as a complete and running car, for now anyway.


And so the tear down begins.



Because the initial plan was to build a race car, everything was stripped out, and most of it sold or dumped. Infact I have none of the original interior, other than the rear seat.



The engine mounts were cut off the cross member to allow plenty of room to drop the engine in, and work out the best placement.


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Take one dx in a state like this..


Add 4kg of this..


Plus a hammer and chisel, mix for 2 hours, and you end up with this.



After using dry ice to remove the sound deadening this time round, there is no way I would ever do another car again without it, it was soo much easier.

I took a chilli bin down to BOC, and asked for 4kg of dry ice. Took it round to the workshop, divided it up into 4 plastic shopping bags, and then placed the bags on the floor of the car. You can just spread it across the floor of the car, but I found it much easier having it in bags, because that way, you could just pick up and move the bag when you were ready to do another section. Plus you could hang the bags on the firewall, something you cant do if its loose. Id leave the bags in place for about 15mins, then move the bag to another spot. Then hit the spot that was just cooled with a hammer. This would seperate the sound deadening from the floor, and then you could chip off huge chunks at a time.

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After cutting out part of the gbox tunnel and firewall, there was now room to drop the engine and box in, and get an idea of where it would sit. There isnt alot of choice as to where the engine will sit, it fits where its sitting quite nicely, but if you try to move it at all, something important gets in the way. You cant go lower due to the sump already sitting on the cross member, you cant go further back without some serious cutting of the wiper tray etc, not that you would really want to, as this would move the gearstick position too far back. But Im more than happy with where it is.





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Now its time to stop removing/cutting bits out of Kermit, and start putting/welding other bits back in!

The engine mounts were very straight forward, the Beams mounts are two cast alloy wings, with a single bolt hole going straight down thru them, to the rubber engine mounts, and then a bolt out the bottom. So we made up two small boxes out of 5mm plate with a hole in the top, that the bolt in the bottom of the rubber mount could slide into. Then used a holesaw to drill a hole up thru the cross member so you could attach a nut to the end of that bolt.

Tidy, and simple.





Excuse the rust, once everything is fitted, it will all come back out and get the por15 treatment.

Also, a huge thanks to Simon from Surfab for all the welding!

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The gbox mounts took a little more messing round. The standard ke70 gbox mounts obviously werent going to work with the 6speed Altezza box, the cross member sits much further back. So out with the 5mm plate again. First up we made a a long L bend that sat flush ontop of the standard gbox mounts, but stretched off the back about 150mm. After drilling two holes in each side to fit the Altezza cross member, we welded a nut on top of each hole for the bolts to thread into. Although that would probably be strong enough by itself, we decided to box in the sides of the L bends to give it some more strength, and tidy it up abit.

I made up a template for each side out of cardboard, and then copied around it onto a sheet of 3mm steel. After cutting it out, I gave them to Simon to weld in.





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Speaking of shifting from the back seat, I moved the shifter forward on the box to give a better, and more comfortable position for the gearstick. Credit must go to Roman for giving me the heads up on this simple and easy relocation! Thought I would show it in abit more detail incase anyone was wondering/wanting to do the same...

This is the shifter in its standard location. As you can see, there is a second set of holes on the gbox 55mm forward of where the remote tower is currently bolted to.


With the tower removed, you can see the socket that the end of the gearstick sits into. Infront of the bolt that holds the socket in place on the shaft there is a hole for the split pin.


When you slide the socket off the shaft, there is a second split pin hole behind the bolt hole.


Socket on normally...


Socket turned around and slid on backwards...


And with the tower reattached on the front set of holes.


It shifts great, if anything its better. The gearstick is in a much better position, and it took all of 10mins to swap around.

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I picked up some ae86 hubs to fit the HSD stub axle, as the early ke70 hubs are different and wont fit. Same problem with the steering arms, so I found some ae86 power steering arms to give abit more lock. Non p/s arms are 135mm center to center, and the p/s arms are 115mm c to c, so they are a decent amount shorter.



I gave it all a wire brush, and then a coat of por15. The hubs got a new set of bearings etc before they went together as well.


It was definitely worth painting them, after seeing the bits bolted to the struts.


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Before the struts could go in, there was some more modifying to do. I pulled the bottom arms out, along with with the castor arms and sway bar. The castor arms are being replaced with T3 items, and the sway bar will be replaced with something larger to deal with the extra weight of the engine and box. As for the bottom arms, I needed to shorten them a little bit to fit the Longchamps without excessive camber, of course its going to take abit of messing around to get everything to fit without rubbing and still have a good wheel alignment. So the easiest option is to make the arms adjustable, might as well, everything else is..

So I bought a couple of spuds, rod ends and lock nuts. The arms were measured up and then the end of them had a run in with the drop saw.


Then it was out with the 5mm plate again. I cut out some squares to cap the end of the arms, and to mount the spuds into, as well as a long piece to weld to the bottom of the arm to reinforce the whole thing. After some more Surfab handiwork they turned out like this.




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I replaced the ball joints in the bottom arms while they were off, and decided to do the same to the steering. I replaced the rack ends, but rather than replace the tie rods, I decided to modify them instead so once everything is set up, I can adjust the angle of the tie rod to best suit the height of the car.

Time for more spuds, rod ends and cutting...




After cutting the ball joint off, the tie rod was slid inside the spud and welded on.


Then it was all screwed back together for a test fit. It all fits nicely, and once the car is running, I can mess around with the height of the spacer to get it right. And no, that is not the spacer I will be using, thats just in there so i can bolt it all together to push the car round the workshop.



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The last thing to do before bolting the HSD's in, was redrill one hole in the strut tower. The front two bolts on ae86 struts line up perfectly, the rear one is out by about 10mm.


Then it was time to throw the Longchamps on, sit Kermit back on his wheels, and see how it all looked..


Obviously the guards are going to need some work to fit the wheels, Simon went at it with a hammer and dolly for abit and pulled the guard out a little, and folded the lip flat against the inside of the guard.




Two thumbs up!


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Obviously there were going to be a few clearance issues running 15x8.5 front wheels on a low dx, especially with the extra lock. So it was off with the guards, and onto the hoist, so I could get a better view under the car, and see what was hitting where. With abit of extra castor and camber, the rubbing wasnt as bad as I expected, but there was definitely still a few areas that needed some one on one time with a BFH.

The first area to deal to was the lip that runs down the center of the back of the wheel well, as the tire was hitting on this before getting anywhere near full lock. So the whole lip was beaten flat against the wheel well.


That was the steering issue sorted, the wheels could now turn full left to full right without contacting anything.



But there would be more rubbing problems as soon as you hit a bump as the wheel well in front of the strut was too close to the tire to allow any travel, same problem with the back of the wheel well, although it cleared, any bumps at all and there would be some serious rubbing..



So both copped a good beating, the end result was well worth it tho, there is plenty of clearance, well maybe not plenty, but enough to allow suspension travel and a full range of steering lock.





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Now that Kermit is properly mobile again, I need to reattach the steering column so I can put a steering wheel on to move the car around. Rather than just kicking the wheels to change direction. There is abit of an issue tho, when I stripped the interior, I sold the pedal box, like most of what I pulled out. The pedals dont bother me, as Im planning to run a Wilwood set up, but the steering column actually mounts to the original pedal box. So it was time to break out the 5mm plate again, along with a length of tube. Being an 80's econo box, Kermit needs all the strengthening/stiffening possible. So I decided to do a full length dash bar, with plates on the ends. More 5mm was used to make a mounting point for the column. I set the height at what I wanted, maybe slightly higher, so I could just space the bolts down if I wanted it lower.




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The standard dx diff was never gonna cut it, so time for an upgrade...


A T series diff probably would have been sufficient, but I wasnt keen to pay that much for diff that I was going to modify anyway. The next logical step would have been a F series, but I was going to have to shorten it anyway to fit the wheels inside the guards, so a $100 hilux diff seemed like a good place to start.

First job was to remove all mounts etc from the housing and grind it smooth, to prepare for the mounts being taken from the original diff.




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  • 3 weeks later...

Progress has been almost nonexistent the last few weeks, been a little difficult to get across town to the workshop after recent events. Have started to shorten the diff so I can fit my wheels inside the guards. The overall width is going to be slightly less than the standard ke70 width, which will allow the 15x9's to fit under the pulled guards. The track will still be wider than standard, but not heaps, otherwise there wont be any travel before the tires hit the guards, the downside to a low car with a solid axle...




Basically just cut the flanges off the ends of the diff, then cut a section off from either end. The flanges will then be welded back on. The axles will be shortened to suit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I cut the boot floor out to make room for a new fuel tank. Will weld in a new floor once the tank is made and mounted.



Also picked up an adjustable ae86 Whiteline sway bar, as with the extra weight of the Altezza engine and box, the standard wee dx one wasnt gonna be big enough...


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