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The old saying, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is sage indeed and rings particularly true for the 1986 Toyota Corolla GT Twin Cam 16.  It’s not that this car isn’t smart to look at from the outside, but the fun begins when you open the door.

Owner Colin explains, “Toyota New Zealand wanted to produce a special car, so they convinced Toyota Japan to make a Corolla GT.  They used a performance 1600cc twin-cam engine, Toyota’s best performing sports motor to-date, and Chris Amon fine-tuned the suspension and the car to local conditions.”

This car is no slug, with a top speed of 195 km/h.  The Corolla can accelerate from 0-80km/h in 6.2 seconds and reaches 100km/h in just 8.5 seconds.  There are indirect gear maximums of 57km/h in first, 98 km/h in second, 140 km/h in third and 190 km/h in fourth, with both fourth and fifth gears having overdrive.  The engine produces 88kW (119bhp) at a high 6,600 rpm, and maximum torque of 138 Nm at 5,000 rpm.   It is fitted with a four-wheel disc-braking system.

However, it is the interior of the Corolla that will knock your socks off.  It has the wow factor in spades.   The seats have been stylishly upholstered in a dove grey leather which contrasts beautifully with the soft mint blue exterior paintwork.  The driver’s seat is built for maximum comfort, and is seven-way adjustable, including the ability to adjust for lumbar, side-bolster and vertical support, plus a four–way head restraint adjuster. The dash is smart in a dark grey, but it is the red carpet, seatbelts and panel strips on the door interiors that really set this car apart and turn it into one sassy little number. 

Toyota cleverly used the same red as an insert in the exterior black side moulding strip and the ‘GT’ on the front of the vehicle.  This adds a splash of dash to the exterior.  A subtle ‘Twin Cam 16’ decal situated beneath the side trim alludes to the power of this pocket rocket. 

Toyota were smart enough to design a car that had a high performance engine but looked equally well at home as the around-town runabout – a pretty clever marketing strategy.

“New Zealand leather and carpet is used in the vehicle and Toyota also developed a special steering wheel, which is unique to this model,” says Colin.  “They made just over 300 hatchbacks and 130 liftbacks, which is a five door.  The liftbacks were not specified as high; they had the same engine, but had completely different interior trim.   

This particular car has been restored, but to standard specifications.  It still retains the original number plates and these cars are becoming very collectable, particularly those which have not been modified.”

The original price of the Corolla in 1986 was $25,000 and they were pitched against the likes of the Golf GT and the Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo. 

So, what is Colin’s favourite feature of the Corolla?  “I love the red seatbelts and carpet.  You just don’t see red seat belts very often and they really stand out.  This vehicle is also in immaculate restored condition, so I find that very appealing” says Colin.