No doubt about it, a mid-70s Toyota Corolla is a thing of beauty. It’s that shape, the way the cabbie sits back, friendly yet ready for a dice.
Bobby himself was the proud owner of a Corona Mark2 in the late 80s, the two-litre automatic, and knows that these vehicles are not only reliable but lots of fun too.
We spoke to two guys recently, Courtney Ortell and Idrees Hoosen, owners of an orange 1975 Toyota Corolla 1.6 and a black 1974 Toyota Corolla SR5 respectively. But if it were not for the enterprising photographic work of one Elliot Swartz, we would not have this feature to bring to you.
Courtney, who is 30 and hails from Kuils River, got into Toyotas with a 1988 Twincam 16v, and says “that’s when I started meeting lots of people on the scene”.
His Corolla, named Poentjies has got 40 Weber carbs, cams, and some headwork done, but otherwise is as original as they get.
He says: “When I heard this one was going up for sale, I had to have it. And my one friend Lowkie has one, so I knew these cars were tops.”
As you can imagine, when Courtney drives this beauty around, he gets some stares.
He says: “I think I’ve left a lot of people in hospital due to neck spasms. But on the serious side, there’s most probably not a day where I don’t get an offer for my car.”
Thing is, with this model Corolla there is a similarity to other cars of the day, as Courtney remarks: “The worst thing I hear is ‘yor my bru, kyk daai Datsun’.”
When it comes to the thriving Cape car scene, Courtney says: “It’s all good, and yes there will always be the haters, but I say give a man his due no matter what he drives. That’s his efforts and respect that.”
Courtney, who like many adoring Toyota fans, would love to drive a Supra, is chairman of a club called JapCruz in the Northern Suburbs.
He says: “We’re a small club but like a true family. The way it’s supposed to be.
“I’m part of Toyota Club Owners, the guys that bring Toyfest every year. And then there’s SR Factory. Not a club, just an SR community where we help each other with these classics. People can see my car in the streets of Kuila the 7580!”
Now Idrees’ 1974 Corolla SR5 has way more of the predator look to it. Incautiously named the MurderRolla, this cabbie’s deadblack exterior paint is what makes it stand out – even more than just the fact that it’s a spotless 42-year-old cabbie.
Idrees, who is 26 and stays in the Southern Suburbs, says he was born with fuel in his veins, that he started out with this project some three years ago “and has not stopped since”.
He adds: “The engine is a 1600 Toyota motor, with a split cam, some head work, and old-fashioned sidedrafts to help with the fun.
“Extras include a nice set of wide wheels, plus a good set of smaller tyres for a bit of a stretch.”
The interior is a work in progress and, says Idress: “I’ve had so many excellent experiences in this car that I don’t want to annoy other petrolkoppe in relating them. There have been too many to mention.”
Idrees, who would like to drive a 20v one day, belongs to a club called Most Wanted (again, there’s that thing with the name), which is “fairly new on the scene and has loads of classics in it”.