We don't only feature fully modified vehicles in NZ Performance Car magazine — the mildly modified get a look in too! It doesn't matter what it is, if you're passionate about it, modify it, and drive it to work every day, we'll showcase it.

Owner: Karl Griggs
Location: Picton
Occupation: Engineer
Make/model: 1978 Toyota Corolla KE36
Engine: Toyota 4KJ, five-speed gearbox, KE70 diff
Interior: Mazda Familia seats, deep-dish steering wheel, Pioneer CD player, Pioneer 6x9-inch speakers, Pioneer 12-inch subwoofer
Exterior: Bolt-on flares, VW Golf front lip, full respray
Wheels/tyres: 15x8-inch Work Equip (reps),195/45R15 Nankang NSII
Suspension: Shortened front shocks, KE30 leaf springs

NZ Performance Car: Hey Karl, very clean KE36, when did you buy it? 

Karl Griggs: I purchased the KE36 wagon around four years ago. I was after a bigger car to fit my remote-control planes in, and it had to be old school, this ticked all of the boxes.

Why did it have to be old school, did you have troubles in the past with some modern technology?

Ever since I was young I have loved old-school cars. I did own one modern car back in 1999; it was a 1996 Toyota Celica and I sold it after owning it for five days. It was just too comfy and boring. I then made the move onto another old-school Toyota.

What modifications have been done to the Corolla to get it looking the way it does now?

Nothing much really to be honest, a while ago an old lady pulled out in front of me in Picton just after I did the bolt-on flares. It worked out in such a way that I was able to get the car completely repainted. The front lip is off a VW Golf, so they are much easier to find should I destroy one. I liked it so much we took a mould and put one on my Corolla SR coupe. I had a bidding war against someone for the front mirrors, they were for sale online and they looked so good on my coupe I knew I had to have them on the wagon. My bidding opponent was willing to pay a lot of money for these mirrors, but I wouldn’t stop at anything to get my hands on them, they are super rare. I don’t plan on going any lower from where it sits now, as I need the car to do the odd off-the-road excursion, something of which it is very capable of doing at this height. I still think it looks good. 

How does the 4KJ engine go and do you have any future plans for it? 

The standard 4K goes surprisingly well given the engine capacity. All I need the car to be able to achieve is go up hills without a struggle and pass people should I need to. To give it a bit more go I plan on giving it a tickle-up in the near future with a cam and a few other cheeky tricks. 

Thank you so much for you time Karl.

René Vermeer

Dutch, French, or just a Kiwi, René isn’t quite sure, but he does know he has a passion for Japanese vehicles like no other. A well-seasoned Gran Turismo player dating back to his single-digit days, René has a comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of performance vehicles and has owned more than 30 performance cars here in New Zealand, ranging from Nissans to Hondas. A lover of photography, you’ll find him either peeping under someone’s bonnet to snap a detailed shot, or on the side of the racetrack, perfecting his panning.