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Toyota Corolla Special De Luxe (1968)

Toyota Corolla

Normal world traveler

Text & photography: Aart van der Haagen

Mask the nameplates and a layman does not care that he comes from the other side of the globe. In the 1960s, the Toyota Corolla KE10 unobtrusively followed the trend of austere and angular-lined mid-sized cars. Nowadays, in vintage car circles, it is a quarter that Herman Middelkamp comes up with something truly unique. 

The appreciation for mobile heritage of Japanese origin is growing steadily. For a long time, the majority of the classic rapes considered the Toyotas, Hondas, Mazdas, Daihatsu's, Subaru's, Mitsubishis, Suzukis, Datsuns, and Isuzus of the past to be uninteresting stuff, because they were just evidence of shameless copying behavior. Fortunately, that generalizing view is disappearing further and further into the background. Rightly so, because the Japanese could indeed come up with a very original design and often took a respectable lead over Europeans from a technical point of view. In the 1980s in particular, they devoted themselves entirely to advanced inventions, such as multi-valve technology, four-wheel steering and electronically controlled shock absorption. The European engineers looked at it with sorrow; all of a sudden the roles turned.


Long before the Japanese producers put their ambitions so clearly on the surface, the Toyota Corolla was created in a modest atmosphere, which incidentally will see Abraham next year. Earlier, the Publica responded to the increasing mobility needs of consumers with a not-too-large grant, but the great helmsman Eiji Toyoda realized that this reasonably spartan cart with its air-cooled two-cylinder boxer engine offered insufficient perspective: motorists became more and more spoiled. They wanted to cover longer distances in a comfortable environment. The Corona and the Crown already met that need, but now their qualities had to be translated into a lower price range. Toyota opted for a similar, conventional setup, namely a rear-wheel drive sedan with a water-cooled four-in-line below the front court. In the second half of 1962, chief engineer Tatsuo Hasegawa set to work with a team and the following year they had the first prototypes in scale 1: 1 ready. It cost him quite a bit of persuasion to create support among the management for a totally new concept, including the chassis and engine. The company was still in full growth and was forced to carefully consider its substantial investments. Since the Publica would remain in the program, the launch of an additional volume model required the creation of a special factory. Toyota had to set aside an amount of 30 million yen for the Takaoka location.


Nevertheless, the green light came from above to literally start from a blank sheet of paper, partly because of the plans to set up a large-scale export route to America and Europe. It put extra pressure on Hasegawa and his colleagues. Technically, the plan was to use an 1.0 four-cylinder engine that would supply 45 hp at 5500 rpm. Such a high specific power could perhaps be achieved by placing the camshaft above it, but in the absence of experience, the team finally decided not to venture into it. The alternative was a central position, but as high as possible, with short push rods. In the meantime, a one-liter block in the compact class was becoming more and more commonplace, encouraging engineers to increase it to 1077 cm3. With that they took a risk not to be underestimated, because now the car would fall in a higher tax category on the home market than its competitors. While Europe was already getting used to the light, effective suspension of the McPherson front suspension, Japan did not yet know this phenomenon. Tatsuo Hasegawa and his men pioneered with it, which was not about roses. The first prototype got into trouble after a test drive of 500 meters and it took two and a half years for the team to control everything - on its own. At the rear of the car the usual rigid axle with leaf springs was used.

Typical accessory from that time: artificial leather steering wheel cover with printers

Most wanted

At its introduction in November 1966, the Toyota Corolla hit like a bomb, perhaps fueled by the slogan 'The most wanted car by the market'. Japan praised him for his modern appearance, refined technology, generous glass surface, surplus of interior space and a multitude of comfort and safety features. Nobody stumbled over the tax disadvantage. The model available as a two-, four-door and station wagon had fully adjustable seats as standard, sporty floor switch (if desired on the steering column), armrests, storage space in the center console, a radio, a heater, two-speed windscreen wipers and a compressible steering column. With an additional charge, the four-speed gearbox could be exchanged for a two-stage Toyoglide machine; rather unique in this segment and certainly interesting, even though the modest number of transmissions did not perform well. In mid-1968 the engine grew to 1166 cm3 and the customer could show any sporting aspirations to the outside world by ordering the Sprinter, which derived the 'coupé' from its roofline. The generation referred to as KE10 ran to 1971 when the KE20 took office.


In view of the positively developing prosperity in the Netherlands, Toyota importer Louwman & Parqui could already hear the cash register ringing in mind. The trading company, then still based in Leidschendam, brought the Toyota Corolla to the Netherlands like a rocket and brought it widely to the attention. This rounding off of the program did not harm the brand organization, even though many citizens were still skeptical about 'those Japanese'. It was difficult to resist against so much value for the money - 6666 guilders - and then after a few years the story began to circulate that Toyotas had almost no equal in quality. Just about the most northerly established dealer in the Netherlands, Fa. Robertus in Zuidbroek delivered a white Toyota Corolla Special De Luxe to Mr. D. Mulder from Muntendam on July 13, 1968. The service coupon booklet issued by Louwman & Parqui does not provide any information about the maintenance history; the pages are blank. Well, the car managed to survive fairly effortlessly without that administration.

Something special

For a change, there is no youth sentiment in this story. "In 2006, I happened to bump into this Toyota via Old Town Marketplace, after I had previously restored an A-Kadett and was looking for something else," says owner Herman Middelkamp. “The fact that it was something special and the low mileage - then 27.000 - aroused my interest. The Toyota Corolla was owned by a private individual who only got rid of it in one transaction with another such car. So I got the same one with a Toyoglide machine and a damaged nose. Later I was able to sell it to a neighbor behind. He collected parts for it and wanted to restore it, but that never happened. ”That's how the Toyota returned to Middelkamp after two years and Herman started it himself. “I prepared it for my son, but in the end he didn't like it, so I put the Toyota Corolla on the market again. By the way, he used the manual transmission later for his wedding. "

Walked over it

The necessary refurbishment work on the 98-66-GF was found to be in control. Herman Middelkamp: “I had to push a lot of dents out of the roof; it looked like somebody had walked over it. ”Corrosion actually manifested nowhere, apart from some rust on the bottom. After removal of this attack, the owner put a coating on the metal and had the complete carriage spray-painted and sprayed. As a precaution, he later tectylated the underside. Marktplaats led him to new bumpers and hubcaps. “I was struggling with the totally blocked carburetor. Ultrasonic cleaning didn't help anymore, so I had to get another one. With that I ended up with a complete donor car, from which I did pick up and store more important parts. I was able to sell the engine well. ”Due to a prolonged standstill, the RDW had to wake up the sleeping license plate, which was preceded by a mandatory inspection of the vehicle. “I had neatly placed exterior mirrors on the mudguards, but the judge thought they were too far forward: they could not be adjusted from the driver's seat. However, pictures on the internet proved that it was originally supposed to be that way. ”End of discussion.

I'm sorry

The Toyota Corolla shows its friendly face at a select number of events. “I look at the location and the atmosphere. For example, the Toyota AutomobielClub Nederland regularly meets in Brabant or Limburg, and we find that a bit far from Zwolle, although the car travels over large distances quite easily. With 100 km / h it all wants well, with 120 km / h there is a lot of noise. My wife and I visit general vintage car meetings a little less nowadays. You see a lot of expensive cars, with owners who have no eye for a classic like this Toyota Corolla and who can't repair anything themselves. As ordinary people, we don't feel at home in between. ”With a Toyota, little seems to tinker, but on the way to an event, the layered technology failed once in a while. “The water pump crashed. I was able to find another new one in box, along with rear lights, four sets of contact points and three distributor caps. ”Who claimed that the parts supply for traditional Japanese people is hopeless? Meanwhile, Herman Middelkamp is starting to get pretty attached to his Toyota Corolla KE10. “A while ago I wanted to sell it, but when a candidate applied, I already regretted it. That man keeps contacting me every three months. However, I know that if I get rid of this car, I will never find one like that again. "

Technical Specifications

  • Liquid-cooled 4 cylinder-in-line engine, underlying camshaft, 8 valves
  • Engine capacity 1077 cm3
  • Fuel supply for Aisan carburetor
  • Power 60 SAE-hp at 6000 rpm
  • Transmission manual 4 container
  • Drive rear wheels
  • Wheel suspension in front of McPherson, coil springs, stabilizer
  • Wheel suspension behind rigid axle, leaf springs
  • Brakes before drums
  • Brakes behind drums
  • L xw xh 385 x 149 x 138 cm
  • Weight kg 726
  • Top speed 140 km / h
  • Consumption 7,0 1 / 100 km

The world's most sold

Ask people of which car the most cars are produced and ten to one that they call the Volkswagen Beetle, which by the way was surpassed by the Golf many years ago. For the time being, however, the Toyota Corolla retains its lead: in July 2013 rolled the forty-millionth of the band and the counter continues to run, albeit at a considerably slower pace than its German rival. In Europe, he has not been on the program for a while. Critically, you could argue that the Corolla is smuggling, because unlike the Beetle, he needed several model generations - now eleven - to set his record. The compact mid-sized Toyota was never considered an exciting car, although the evolution did indeed result in sporty misfits. We just think about the coupes, usually called Sprinter, but certainly also about the Sports car (1976-1980) and the first Liftback (1980-1983). While the range in 1983 switched to front-wheel drive, the manufacturer carried the parallel iconic AE86, known to us simply as Corolla Coupé. In it, a jewel of an 1.6-16 valve engine (124) with two overhead camshafts powered a variable intake manifold (T-VIS) on the rear wheels, then also appeared in the MR2 and later Corolla's Hatchback / Liftback GT-i. In 2002, Toyota did a nice joke by equipping the totally anonymous model that then debuted with an 1.8 VVTL-i engine, which produced a large 192 hp thanks to variable valve timing and lift height. Three years later, the German motorsport department TTE went a step further by adding a mechanical compressor, resulting in 225 hp. With that, the still good-looking hatchback crashed from 6,9 to 0 km / h in 100 seconds. The Corolla thus stopped in 2007 at its peak, at least in relation to the European market.

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