Indonesian K-Series Toyota KE15 Sprinter Coupe

This article was first published in 2015.

Words & Photography: Luke Ray.

We’ve been to Indonesia a few times in the last year or so, during which time we’ve seen some interesting things. We’ve been digging into the auto and moto scene over there, and there’s still plenty of stone-turning to be done. One genre that we hadn’t seen much of was classic Japanese. That is, until Kustomfest this year. At the show was parked this cool project and I just had to know more. So, we booked a shoot for the day after the show and spent some time with the guys behind it. 

Who are you and what are we looking at?

My name’s Prima, I’m from Subciety Garage in Jakarta, Indonesia. This is a 1967 Toyota Corolla KE15 Sprinter Coupe.

From where did you source the car?

Here in Indonesia about five years ago. We picked it up from an older guy’s garage and the condition was pretty bad.

Are there many of these in Indonesia?

No, they’re very rare. I’ve only ever seen four here.

Did you restore the car back to original?

Yes, back to as close to original condition as possible, still with the K-series straight-4 engine. Many of the parts in this car are original.

How long did the restoration take?

Almost four years. Because this is the first generation of Corolla it was difficult to find parts. I sourced original parts from Japan, the US and Australia. For example, it took me two years to find new-old stock emblems and badges. But for the parts we couldn’t find in Indonesia, we made new ones ourselves. That’s how we do things here, if you can’t find it, you make it.

Many of the rubber parts are from Australia, the door linings are from Cyprus, the steering wheel from Japan. Internet forums have been a big help in sourcing parts from all over the world.

Is this style of project popular in Indonesia?

No, not at all. It is very hard to find parts for Japanese cars here, so they are not popular for that reason. To do this kind of project would take more money than people are usually comfortable with, just because of the logistics of sourcing parts. 

After you completed the resto, what happened next?

I wanted a unique look for the car. I wanted something different, but I still felt like I needed to restore the car back to original condition first. When I was happy with it, Kustomfest was fast approaching so I decided to make some modifications and take it to the show with a new look.

Who helped with the modifications?

I brought it here to White Soul Customs in Jogjakarta. These guys do great work and they were the perfect choice for the job. Actually, we only had a couple of days before Kustomfest so it was a short project.

So you spent four years restoring it and then two days customising it?

Well, yes! But, just some customisations that we could get done in that time. There are still many things to do that we will spend more time on now that Kustomfest has passed.

Run through what White Soul did in such a short time?

We only had a few days to prep the car for Kustomfest so the list of modifications isn’t extensive. We fitted the wheel arches, the front spoiler lip, old school race style bucket seats. Due to time constraints, we made the arches and lip from fibreglass, but the intention is to re-make them from carbon fibre.

There’s a roll cage already fabricated, but it didn’t make it into the car for the show. Again, due to timing. I wanted to have the rear axle shortened to get a nicer wheel fit under the body, but we didn’t have enough time before Kustomfest, so what you see here isn’t the intended final result, We still have lots of work to do.

What was your inspiration for the modifications? From where did your ideas come?

I just wanted it to have a different look for Kustomfest, so I called the guys at White Soul to talk through what we could do. I had some photos that I had collected from the web, images of looks that I like. In particular I liked the look of the KE25, the younger Corolla model. It was hard to find images of a KE15 with the kind of style that I wanted. I found that someone had done a KE25 with the right look so I asked White Soul do do that for me on this car. I wanted a racing look for the show… a Japanese racing feel.

What wheels are these?

They are Atara Racing wheels from Malaysia. 15 x 9” at the front and 15 x 10.5” at the rear. I still have the original wheels and hubcaps from the restoration.

Will the engine stay as it is, or do you have other plans?

We want to experiment with two 4-cylinder engines put together to make a V8.

Wait, what?

Yes! It’s hard to get old-school Japanese V8 engines here in Indonesia, so the plan is to experiment with making our own from two Toyota 4s. We will do that at Auto Fix Jakarta, a performance machine shop. They have the right skills, so they will try out a few things to see if it’s possible.

Couldn’t you import a V8 from overseas?

Well, yeah but you know in Japan in the ‘70s, there weren’t many V8 options to choose from, so they had to be creative back then too. I want to follow a similar path, I want it to be like a time capsule. I don’t know for sure if it will work, but we will try.

Any other modifications coming?

We will fit air conditioning of course. I will drive my family around in this car and in Indonesia, that’s not so easy without air! [laughs]