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Sourcing a beater car


matroska

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Alert : This is not the awe-inspiring blog  where a 60-year-old rare car gets restored. This, non-existent ladies, and gentlemen unfortunately is much much more mundane. So bear with me. 

Everyone needs a beater car - you could come up with many reasons why... but deep down another set of wheels is such an alluring prospect. Time to time it feels so good to keep your daily with all its techie bits aside and just rattle down the lane in a simple box on wheels with just a speedometer.  Three years ago me and my father bought a 1972 Datsun  (B110) and since I was broke then and had no space in my house which was being built it fell upon my father to fund it and keep it in his garage with his Beetle. I drove it on the weekends for short distance trips and let me tell you that car was fun to drive. However, cars of that vintage need a lot of TLC. It's not a beater car at all and you need to develop a bond with the car to keep it running - you have to know exactly how much gas it needs to stop it from stalling and when and when not to use the choke (yeah choke....remember?) So clearly it's not the type of car that you can throw the keys to a close friend (yeah I'm a little picky when sharing the car keys) OR even the wife (who by the way is quite a competent driver) and expect them to figure out to drive it in case of an emergency. 

I've always had a soft spot for the boxy little cars from the 1980's - you can read about that infatuation here.  Under these circumstances I decided to save up a bit and get myself a beater car from the 80's .Given that I have little parking space under a tree in the garden(the Civic sits in the garage) my choices were limited to hatches. In a sense the 80's was a decade where hatches gained popularity so a 80's hatch was an ideal retro-relic that would double up as a reliable beater car. My budget was quite limited ~500,000 I was ok with a car with a bit of work to do and . The  most tempting option was to go for the definitive hot hatch : a Golf and I entertained this idea for quite a while and did a fair bit of research. The other temptation was to go for a Fiat Uno. However, all the research I did gave me doubts. Golf's at that budget were disasters waiting to happen and the Fiat - as much as I loved it (one of my first die casts was a Bburago Fiat Uno and as a result I grew up loving Fiat Uno’s) didn't seem a very practical option unless I was really really into it : I'm talking about "Get on an illegal immigrant boat from Negombo and swim the last 100 miles to Napoli and walk to Turin and steal parts from a Mafioso's uncles Fiat" level dedication - since I can't swim anyway I gave up on that too and shelved these ideas under 'When I grow up'.

By now Japanese flags were appearing in my mind and some  usual suspects came up - Toyota Starlet EP71, Corolla2/Tercel, Nissan March K10 and Daihatsu Charade G11 .Yes the Honda fanboy in me screamed 'Civic' but Civic hatches are rare and unmolested ones are even rarer. One look at the Civic hatches for that budget with their garish Nilkamal  plastic mods and hideous color combinations (that only a guy who smokes too much KG and listens to bus-Ajith can think of ) gives you cholera that screams 'Hondaaa' when it exits your body.  So, I eventually narrowed down to basically 4 models and the hunt began. As usual the Toyota’s were overpriced and the only EP71 within my budget was mysterious car that had some work to be done but had the YOM as 1981 (the first EP71 rolled off in 1984) and the Corolla2/Tercels were well beyond budget.

At the same time, I’d been floating the idea of an engine swap and having read a few threads on 4EFTE swaps on Charades and March K10’s in Pakistani and British forums I started focusing on them. After many weeks and many futile trips, (and weird encounters - including a persistent and scantily clad lady insisting I wait till her husband comes and make an offer for a car that was on the verge of collapsing into a pile of rust and a small child beating a poor Charade while I was inspecting it with a wooden stick until the flaky paint started coming off ) I realized these once-honest hard working engines were basically gasping for life. Then April 21st happened, and things were put on hold for a few weeks. I continued to do more research on engines, repairing, parts availability as well as engine swapping along with my friend  and realized that the easiest 80’s Jap hatch to live with will be from Toyota AND when and  if I wanted to do an engine swap it would be relatively painless putting in a Toyota Engine that was easily found. As for the budget well – it was a bit above budget ( dad came to the rescue). In September 2019 I ended up with this – a Toyota Starlet EP71 from 1985 registered in 1989 with a fake Soleil badge. There were various grades for the EP71 and judging by the equipment of this car I'd place it at either XL or DX however the DX had Fender Mounted Mirrors so unless someone installed door mounted Mirros on a DX the car was probably an XL. The A/C worked, there was some minor rust issues, and the suspension apparently needed a bit of attention, The interior while not pristine was acceptable and just like that I had my beater car which was a little bit older than me.

So how was the ride? – The car is quite light and for a car without power steering it’s extremely maneuverable. The driving position is low and quite nice. There was a  few rattling bits here and there expectedly, and the breaks were rather weak. The 35-year-old 2E was quite tired by now and to be honest when you must keep coaxing it to keep going like asking an asthma patient to keep breathing well it’s not that enjoyable. At the same time the car developed a very specific issue : The car would start without fail every morning – BUT once you drive somewhere and switch off the engine it would not start for an hour. Keep it for an hour  then it starts again and runs well for the whole day. Basically, the second start will not happen sooner than one hour after the first start of the day. I had to arrange my timetables accordingly! By December I was running out of patience with the 2E and at the same time I’d been yearning to put in a 4EFTE as it seemed quite straightforward. However, Recon 4EFTE’s from Japan were now going for  250,000 and having spent more than intended already on the car I was already on a very tight budget.

Ok that was too long for the first part – I’ll get back with another post on the mechanical mods done on the car to date. Ciao!

Here's a few pics of the car from last year: 

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Always enjoy reading your blogs, great writeup again ! And you have chosen a sensible option I would say.

Something we can park anywhere (legally of course :D) and go, something to do all the dirty stuff without worrying of scratches, dents or bird poo etc. Something which can go over humps, trenches with no regret, Such a peace of mind ! ?

But when its a beater, I guess the key thing is keeping the money you put in to the car to minimum. Not getting too carried away with the modifications and upgrades, or else we are losing the objective of a beater car. 

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Hey Matroska.

It’s nice to see another EP71 user in the forum. I’ve been using one since 2007. Though I have used one EP82 and couple of EP91s the Boxy was the one fascinated me most so I was eyeing for a one for some time. Since my preference was a two door car with reasonable body shape finally settled for an EP76 van for 475000. Sadly cars of those kinds are now in the hands of people who couldn’t afford for the required maintenance. So mine was of the same. Bringing in it to a standard of my choice was actually a painful and time and consuming job but I enjoyed every step of that. So I hope we can share the experiences in restoration.

Happy motoring in a nippy starlet

Cheers

image.thumb.png.6edc09fffa723baf7c89fc3548011a6c.png

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Hahahah! Great post! Another Starlet owner who can't swim ? 

Cute little car, been thinking of swapping a 4EFTE on my EP91 as well (Different pistons, manifold, springs, turbo) should easily do it, not sure about the process of a 2E to 4EFTE conversion, saving up the money will be the issue ahhaha, I was quoted 300k for a 4EFTE swap with the Glanza Auto 5 Speed box.

If you have the chassis code you can type it into ToyotaDIY.com and see the trim and color it left the factory with, should help you in identify what trim (DL/XL or whatever it left the factory was).

If you want some mildly "specialist care" (although he'll never admit to it) I can recommend my mechanic since a lot of the Starlets (Also the people who have made businesses out of modifying Starlets ;) ) put their car there, but I'm sure you've already got your own thing set up.

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2 hours ago, wolseley said:

Hey Matroska.

It’s nice to see another EP71 user in the forum. I’ve been using one since 2007. Though I have used one EP82 and couple of EP91s the Boxy was the one fascinated me most so I was eyeing for a one for some time. Since my preference was a two door car with reasonable body shape finally settled for an EP76 van for 475000. Sadly cars of those kinds are now in the hands of people who couldn’t afford for the required maintenance. So mine was of the same. Bringing in it to a standard of my choice was actually a painful and time and consuming job but I enjoyed every step of that. So I hope we can share the experiences in restoration.

Happy motoring in a nippy starlet

Cheers

image.thumb.png.6edc09fffa723baf7c89fc3548011a6c.png

Is this abroad? Looked like Australia for a sec.

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19 minutes ago, fiat fan said:

Is this abroad? Looked like Australia for a sec.

That wagon R in the background says other wise...or have Wagon R's invaded the land down under too now ??

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3 minutes ago, Kavvz said:

That wagon R in the background says other wise...or have Wagon R's invaded the land down under too now ??

Zoomed in. It’s actually a mitsu buddy van. Not a “waggy kella” 

Happy to see our country looking good.

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@fiat fan @Kavvz that's SL alright, near the walking path behind the parliament, there's a hospital there as well, pretty beautiful, there's a junction with an Army run shop and across the road people set up shops (inside their cars) and sell stuff.

 

I'm bad at explaining where it is so here's a link https://goo.gl/maps/bDykrNshfCg9WbGR7

Roads around the parliament are perfect for flooring it ? 

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2 hours ago, fiat fan said:

Is this abroad? Looked like Australia for a sec.

I thought its Australia as well for a second :D 

I think this pic is taken around Kurunegala if im not wrong

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6 hours ago, wolseley said:

It’s nice to see another EP71 user in the forum. I’ve been using one since 2007.

Guys, thanks for your comments! I think the biggest discovery is @wolseley s EP76 - that's one absolute beauty of a Starlet - it looks mint and it's very rare to see a Starlet in this condition. As you said Wolseley, most of these cars are now in the hands of people who simply abuse it and just paste ugly stickers here and there and cover up corrosion with a layer of paint. I'd love to see more pictures of your EP76 - and possibly your journey of restoring it - which I think will have more depth than mine since you've done a tremendous job with that car. 

5 hours ago, MaleCortana said:

If you have the chassis code you can type it into ToyotaDIY.com and see the trim and color it left the factory with, should help you in identify what trim (DL/XL or whatever it left the factory was).

Yeah I did - and it did seem to be an XL ( I was just being suspicious :D ) The color code was actually 041 which was the Corolla code for white and iRage actually found the color code in the Toyota Catalog archive . Someone though had changed the color to Gold (I assume Wolseley's color) at some point and updated the book too before someone had repainted the car white - which was the original color.  Thanks for the pointers on the Starlet Mechs. Always good to know. Currently I have my guy - single man operation with fairly good equipment : dudes a bit of an allrounder.

I'll follow up with a post on the engine upgrade.  

P.S : That pic should be somewhere near Parliament as MaleCortana mentioned. 

Edited by matroska
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3 hours ago, matroska said:

Guys, thanks for your comments! I think the biggest discovery is @wolseley s EP76 - that's one absolute beauty of a Starlet - it looks mint and it's very rare to see a Starlet in this condition. As you said Wolseley, most of these cars are now in the hands of people who simply abuse it and just paste ugly stickers here and there and cover up corrosion with a layer of paint. I'd love to see more pictures of your EP76 - and possibly your journey of restoring it - which I think will have more depth than mine since you've done a tremendous job with that car. 

Yeah I did - and it did seem to be an XL ( I was just being suspicious :D ) The color code was actually 041 which was the Corolla code for white and iRage actually found the color code in the Toyota Catalog archive . Someone though had changed the color to Gold (I assume Wolseley's color) at some point and updated the book too before someone had repainted the car white - which was the original color.  Thanks for the pointers on the Starlet Mechs. Always good to know. Currently I have my guy - single man operation with fairly good equipment : dudes a bit of an allrounder.

I'll follow up with a post on the engine upgrade.  

P.S : That pic should be somewhere near Parliament as MaleCortana mentioned. 

Oh the color was 041? I think mine is 040 aka "Super White"

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3 hours ago, matroska said:

Guys, thanks for your comments! I think the biggest discovery is @wolseley s EP76 - that's one absolute beauty of a Starlet - it looks mint and it's very rare to see a Starlet in this condition. As you said Wolseley, most of these cars are now in the hands of people who simply abuse it and just paste ugly stickers here and there and cover up corrosion with a layer of paint. I'd love to see more pictures of your EP76 - and possibly your journey of restoring it - which I think will have more depth than mine since you've done a tremendous job with that car. 

Yeah I did - and it did seem to be an XL ( I was just being suspicious :D ) The color code was actually 041 which was the Corolla code for white and iRage actually found the color code in the Toyota Catalog archive . Someone though had changed the color to Gold (I assume Wolseley's color) at some point and updated the book too before someone had repainted the car white - which was the original color.  Thanks for the pointers on the Starlet Mechs. Always good to know. Currently I have my guy - single man operation with fairly good equipment : dudes a bit of an allrounder.

I'll follow up with a post on the engine upgrade.  

P.S : That pic should be somewhere near Parliament as MaleCortana mentioned. 

@matroska and other friends

Thank you for all your comments.

The location was actually in front of the food court at Madiwela before you turn to Pamunuwa road.

The colour is Mazda 35Y

It was originally as of Matroska's but facelifted.

 

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1 hour ago, wolseley said:

Mazda 35Y

What? There is a color code called Mazda? ? anyways that color looks great on your car. 

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Congratulations on your purchase and best of luck with the mods!

Nice write-up @matroskaI had several bouts of breathless laughter while reading this. Level of dedication needed to maintain the uno, color scheme of riced up Nilkamal civics... ?Oh man! Where can I read more of this stuff?

I read Komisiripala's book only recently and I wasn't disappointed ?

Edited by varotone
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