Toyota Nation Forum banner

1 - 20 of 42 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
194 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hardly a build thread, this is more a small story of my recently purchased Corolla hatchback. Since this version is a European spec that was never sold in the US (well, I'm not even American, or live in America, I'm from Portugal...) I thought you guys might be curious about this oddity.

First, I'd like to present my car: It's a 1995 car, so at least I'm in the right section. It's a silver three door hatchback, pretty much exactly like the JDM FX version, chassis code CE100. If I remember correctly, for the European market this means it is a hatchback, and (to add further weirdness), it is a naturally aspirated diesel - powered by the legendary 2.0L 2C engine. 72 rampaging horsepower and a mere 97 lb·ft (132 N·m) of torque... but 50 mpg is achievable! The engine is famous for it's dependability and reliability.





Unusual? But wait, there's more: it's only a 2-seater. This thing is actually classified as a commercial vehicle, rear seats are removed to increase trunk space and a cargo separator is installed. (That's why it's called "StarVan" - actual marketing name).



(don't worry, I cleaned the cargo space properly afterwards)

Before I got the Corolla, I used to drive a SEAT Inca van (google it - it's basically a VW), and planned to sell it in a few months to help finance a decent car... and then this happened:



Doh! Not even a scratch on me, but a busted rear axle and a bent chassis meant the repair was too expensive for the value of the car, that I didn't even like that much anyway. The kind of car I'd like was still out of reach financially, my decision was to find a cheap but in decent shape car to be a "stop-gap" ride.

Enter the Corolla, and I actually started to really enjoy it! There's something about it: a honest, solid, nice to drive, and good-looking car - a step up from the SEAT in pretty much everything!

Yes, I'll be keeping her for a while. But she needs some love, although in great health mechanically, an almost 22 year-old car is not perfect:


  • Clear coat is quite rough in a few places
  • A small dent on the driver's door;
  • Driver's mirror housing is cracked;
  • Dome light is not working - (wasn't - it's now working);
  • Some of the tabs/brackets that hold the headlights and grille in place are broken.
  • Part of the trunk cover is missing;
  • Speakers are blown - I need to find out the right size first, are they stock ones 10cm (4 inch) or 13cm (5.10")?
Oh, and no rust!

These are some things that are going to be fixed - by myself or with some help. Call it a sort of mild restoration to make her looking pretty and healthy, and to have some fun in the process... I kindly ask for your help, because as much as I love cars, I haven't really did much work on them :wink:

..and I promise to treat her right and to show you the progress!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
62 Posts
Welcome and like he said, really interesting car indeed!!!!

I've heard about Corolla Wagons used for commercial purposes but not a 3 door hatchback. Looks nice and really straight for its age. Congrats on your little gem!!!!!
 

·
Just play along....
corolla
Joined
·
3,384 Posts
Thanks for sharing. I knew Spain was a diesel loving country. I guess Portugal is too.

Is a turbo going to be a part of that cars future? :)

When I was in Mexico I saw a lot of Hiace vans rolling around. I thought about importing one to the US, but never pursued it.

Welcome to the forum. The guys in here are a great bunch and typically give CORRECT advice, much more than on other car forums I have visited.

-SP
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
194 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Welcome and like he said, really interesting car indeed!!!!

I've heard about Corolla Wagons used for commercial purposes but not a 3 door hatchback. Looks nice and really straight for its age. Congrats on your little gem!!!!!
Thank you. Actually these variants are very common over here. Not only for small businesses and fleets, but also for the private buyer: they're cheaper to buy, not only for the lower base price, but also because they have a tax break (cars are stupidly taxed around here). Name a well-known hatchback and 9 times out of 10 there's a commercial variant on sale.

Thanks for sharing. I knew Spain was a diesel loving country. I guess Portugal is too.

Is a turbo going to be a part of that cars future? :)

When I was in Mexico I saw a lot of Hiace vans rolling around. I thought about importing one to the US, but never pursued it.

Welcome to the forum. The guys in here are a great bunch and typically give CORRECT advice, much more than on other car forums I have visited.

-SP
Only been around here for a few days, I'm amazed, fantastic forum, congratulations on you guys for making it this great.

Around 80% of the cars in Portugal are diesels, it has been trending rapidly since the mid-90's. Pretty much around most of Europe they're also the majority - simply because not only they're more fuel-efficient, but diesel is also cheaper, around my area it is 30% cheaper than gasoline, which really makes a very compelling case financially. Now if they're as clean as advertised... just ask VW :grin:

Now a turbo, that would be a lot of fun - in fact there was a turbo version of the same engine on the Carina 3 (the Corolla's bigger brother) so it is technically possible. Not really practical at the moment (daily driver!) but one can dream... :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
194 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Cargo (trunk) area cover

One of the things that was bugging me out was the part missing cargo area cover. Not being able to hide stuff in the trunk was not really practical, anything back there was visible from the outside.

The cover is made of 4 parts: one just like the passenger version, under the hatch, a big shelf from there to the cargo separator, and two small sheet metal supports on each side to hold the shelf in place and to cover the gaps beside the side windows. Since one of these two supports was missing, I was driving around like this:



No one would sell me just that part (only the complete set), so I needed an alternative. I needed to use the one I hat as a template to fabricate a mirror image of that one, and then have it upholstered. Good thing my dad is a professional welder and he gave me a huge help with it. Found some leftover stainless steel sheet around the house, cut it and weld it, also needed to fabricate a support that bolts in the place where usually goes the rear seatbelts. It turned out like this, on the left the original part and on the right the new part:



You might think those welds are not what you'd really expect from a professional welder, but it didn't need to be pretty or perfect, it was going to be upholstered anyway, so I asked dad not to bother too much... It fits perfectly in place, it's sturdy, and by god, it's heavy. Made from 2mm thick stainless sheet!
I chose to have it upholstered professionally, as I had difficulty to properly fold the cloth properly over the sharp corners.

Planned to install it on saturday, but after a very busy at week at work I overslept, dad was bored and he did it by himself. It worked out beautifully!





Here's a view from the lower support by the wheel well, it bolts to where it usually is the rear seatbelt:



And it is supported on the front by the cargo separator grid:



I went for a drive and this is SOLID! All the noises from the back existed before anyway, I went back there and filled some suspectiing gaps with felt and some foam to try dampening the squeaks (it sounded like plastic rubbing on plastic), as I was not able to hold some panels perfectly in place.

Still have to drive on a bad road to measure my success. Unfortunately bad roads with potholes and cracked tarmac are common over here...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
194 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I should update my thread at least once in a while...

I've been gathering material to liven up the interior. Yesterday, I went to a junkyard or "center for end of life vehicles" (that's what they're called here, translated literally) to find some parts. Really want a trunk light, as my corolla lacks one, it already has the wiring and plug from the factory, but there's a blank piece of plastic in place. It should look like this :



Unfortunately they seem to be in short supply, still could not find one. Not only few of those places are open on Saturday mornings, they do not have many Corollas!
From what I understand, they work differently from yours: it's usually a big warehouse, you go to the counter, ask what you need and they either have it already off the car, go remove it, or note your order so you can pick up the parts later. You do not go in the storage area (sadly)

Not all was lost though; I got the lower part of the dash from an 8th gen!



It means my plan to get a multi box is cancelled. The closed storage box will replace my open box, and I will have a cupholder. I had to get the entire piece, as part of the cupholder assembly is actually one piece with the fascia. Had no idea of that, which means that some cutting will have to be made. €50 for the whole thing sounds a bit steep, but the lighter seems to be in decent condition, and with some luck the lightbulb might still work.

If all goes as planned, this stuff will go into the car next weekend
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
194 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
We have those as well. Both kinds, the kind you ask for parts and the kind you get them yourself. Nice find!
Oh, good. I've read how many of you go to the junkyard to find the parts, that I thought they were all like that :lol:
That type of places seems to be more interesting (you could find cool stuff that you weren't even looking for), but for some reason we do not have those anymore. I think they were outlawed a few years ago...
 

·
Senior TN Member
Porsche
Joined
·
7,508 Posts
Pretty cool car!!! You're giving me ideas for my Wagon!

I need something to keep my dogs out of boot when I stow groceries. At first I thought of building a hard cargo-cover to take place of fabric one that was lost. But I think the wire-cage may be better idea. I can have it hinged to hang behind the rear-seats, then flip up and lock into place when needed!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
194 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
So once again things did not go totally according to plan... I have to hold off the installation of the storage unit and cupholders as the LED I ordered to replace the HVAC illumination has not been delivered yet, I want to do it all in one go to avoid pulling the plastics multiple times. Oh, and even more bad luck with LEDs as my order for the 4000k and 6000 t10/w5w (for parking lights and license, respectively was mixed up and they sent me the 4000k in the wrong bulb type!

Not all is bad news though. I got a call from the body and paint shop, they have a vacancy next week and she's gonna get the facelift she needs!

Hood and left fender:


Trunk spoiler:


Driver's door and mirror




Minor stuff but they stick out on an otherwise flawless bodywork
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
194 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Picked her up from the paint shop today!

Now she has a fresh clean face! No more burnt clear coat





Got the wiper arms coated too, they were badly chipped:



Now all it's left is a nice decontamination and polish on the rest of the body, restore the black trim, and she's ready for a photo shoot once the weather turns nice

Now that I think about it, these wheels need to be addressed...



And so the drum brakes (easy enough, just a bit of sanding and a can of heat resistant paint)



But, boy what a difference already!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
194 Posts
Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
How about a fail?

So yes... this thread still exists!

While I'm waiting for the damn weather to clear up and finally give a nice polish and waxing to the rest of the car, there's still a lot to do...

I ended up doing a couple of things during the extended weekend of the Carnival season... and sorta failed at both!

First, blue LED's on the cluster. It looks awesome. I really dig it.



But a problem made itself show up right away... because the needles are red, they absorb the blue light completely, so they become damn near invisible at night. Still nice at dusk, when there's still a bit of natural light, but I now take just a split second more to read the gauges when it's fully dark.
Simple. The blue has to go. I already have a plan, I'm going full white. I want my needles visible!

The second fail is about the soundsystem. My speakers were completely blown (after removing I confirmed they were still the factory ones), and not only I want to fix it, but also improve. Sadly I'm sort of limited in this area. First, I don't wanna cut my rear shelf/cargo cover because I want to keep it stock looking, and not attract too much attention.
But as I knew a little more about the commercial version of the Corolla hatchback, or "Star Van" (its actual marketing name), I found out I have the base spec (there's also the better equipped XL trim), which is limited to 10cm (4") door speakers because it has the simpler door cards.
Worried about clearance, I played it safe and chose the smaller speakers, I bought Sony Xplods that seem to fit perfectly. But they leave a little gap, not filling the holes completely, and the sound, although noticeably deeper, cleaner and crispier, falls behind my expectations. Thing is, for a measly €5 more, I should've acquired 13cm Pionners, which with a little "massaging" would fit perfectly, as they are slightly less deep as the 13cm Sony.
(Sadly, no pictures of the install, I had my phone charging)

Well at lest a win. I went to a junkyard (center for end-of-life vehicles), searching for a trunk light because only the Star Van XL has it. I found it in a '93 Corolla Liftback (AKA Sprinter), but the lens was missing, so I passed.
Still, finally a small victory: from that Liftback, I got a good condition passenger sunvisor with the mirror, for as little as €5! Only the XL has it... The luxury!

 

·
Senior TN Member
Porsche
Joined
·
7,508 Posts
Great work on those upgrades. Reminds me I need new speakers and a faceplate too.
If you ever run across an estate with rear-wing, I buy from you! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
194 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Some stuff done during the weekend, that's enough for an update.

Paint rusty drum brakes - check!



Kinda missed a spot. Don't worry, it's covered by the wheel





Headlight tabs: done! Actually I did no do this myself, but at a bodyshop. It's not pretty, but it was cheap, it's still solid and straight. I should get them aligned though, even if it's only for peace of mind.



Went back to white instrument lighting, but now in LED



A week ago there was finally a weekend without rain, so I took the chance to do a bit of detailing. Proper wash, clay bar, wax, plastic restorer, even tire shine! And then spring kicked in with full force, and now there is pollen dust EVERYWHERE! Yeah, thanks a lot for ruining my work...



Since it's Sunday, I went for a drive, avoided the main roads and snapped some pictures





After sunset:





Even with that layer of pollen, she still looks clean and healthy
 
1 - 20 of 42 Posts
Top