Rare 70’s classic: Corolla SR5 Coupé is a sight for sore eyes

By Pritesh Ruthun Time of article published May 14, 2020

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Durban - The third generation Toyota Corolla was built from 1974 to 1981, and it is heralded as the vehicle that spearheaded Toyota’s growth in the US and around the world in the wake of the fuel crisis.

For Krinesh Ramadu, a classic car enthusiast from KwaZulu-Natal, however, it’s the first car he learned to drive under the guidance of his father, making it special for very different reasons.

“You know, my earliest memory of driving is my dad teaching me clutch control on his 1975 Corolla, exactly like the car I own now, only his was yellow,” he recounts.

Ramadu drives a 1977 Toyota Corolla SR5 Coupé, which he meticulously maintains. In fact, Ramadu has spent a considerable amount of time during the nationwide lockdown keeping the paint on the car in immaculate condition.

“I service the car myself and try to take care of all the minor mechanical work myself. For the trickier things, I have a specialist mechanic who works on the car. With it being a 1970s car, the main challenge is keeping the rust away. I try not to wash it too often, though, to prevent excessive water getting into the gaps and in-between panels,” he says.

The 1977 Corolla SR5 came in numerous flavours, with the top of the range variant sporting a 1.6-litre four-cylinder 8-valve engine. There was no fancy turbo-charging. However, it came with dual overhead camshafts and a sportier carburettor system, which in some markets such as Japan, was good for 91kW of power. This might not seem like a lot, but this was the 70s and cars were lightweight, with loads of intrinsic “feel” to them.

Ramadu’s car is fitted with the Toyota 2TB engine, with twin carbs and a 9.5:1 compression, which is good for 76kW.

“My car is standard, but I have plans to fit a stronger set of twin Webers as well as a modified cylinder head.

“Also, I would like to change the wheels to something more in line with the period it was built,” he notes.

For Ramadu, his classic car is not about chasing traffic lights and carving up tight and twisty mountain roads.

“This was the car that my dad bought new when I was 2-years-old, and he taught me how to drive in it at the age of 11. We spent every weekend together cleaning and caring for it. It was his pride and joy, and the plan was always for me to have it as my first car. Things didn’t work out as planned as the car was in an accident and the repair was not carried out very well.

“My dad didn’t think that it was a good idea for me to have it as a first car, so he sold it and bought me a Golf 1. This is the reason my goal was to acquire one of these. I even went as far as trying to track down my dad’s old car, but it seems to have long disappeared. I have tried to replicate, as far as possible, the exact improvements that my dad made to his Corolla; the black striping, the blackout of the chrome trim, the radio and box pioneer speakers, fender mirrors and spot lamps.”

When asked if he would ever sell the Corolla (for the right price), he said: “I receive numerous offers all the time for this car, for values far exceeding what it cost me. But, no amount of money can replace my childhood memories and the very car that fuelled my passion for all cars.”

Nearly 50 million Corollas have rolled off production and assembly lines from all corners of the globe. Here is one car, cared for by a passionate owner, that’s still going strong after more than four decades.

If you would like to learn more about classic cars, you can follow Ramadu on Facebook.

BE sure to catch our full review of the all-new 12th-generation Toyota Corolla sedan in next week’s Drive360 and on IOL Motoring.

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