One of the rarest cars in the Corolla lineage is the KE15 Toyota Corolla 1200, or Corolla Sprinter. These cars came out even before the TE27; we're talking late 1960s here. Parts for the KE15/KE17 are extremely hard to find, no matter what country you search in – United States, Japan, Australia, Philippines, New Zealand, you name it. I have personal experience with trying to find parts for this car unsuccessfully – I owned a white KE15 about ten years ago, but ended up selling it after a year or so of not being able to find simple things like a windshield, door glass, rubber weatherstrips, a front grill, or bumpers for it. I couldn't believe that someone as resourceful as me when it comes to old Toyota parts would have such a hard time finding simple parts for this car!
I wrote the previous paragraph to give our readers an idea of how rare these cars really are. So imagine how incredible it is to see a super rare KE15 Toyota Sprinter like the one above! It would be incredible enough just to see the car parked at some sort of carshow somewhere… but the owner of this car, Santos Renovales Sr, drag races it all the time! ALL the time. This is an incredible example of a show-and-go vintage Toyota. Seriously. In fact, the best time that Santos achieved when driving his Sprinter was 9.64 second 1/4 mile at 134mph at Pomona Fairplex. (2006 NHRA Sport Compact Finals) This 1.8 liter 3TC turbo/nos powered KE15 makes 537hp to the wheels and 490 ft. lbs of torque! Most people who owned a car this rare wouldn't dare drag race it, much less put a high horsepower engine in it that is actually used.
However, Santos Renovales is not an ordinary guy. He is an extremely nice, extremely passionate builder, owner, and driver of vintage Toyotas. Between his own cars, and his son, Santos Jr's personally owned cars, there have been a ton of old school Toyotas in their garage. From Mangos to Starlets to AE86s to TE72s… Santos and his son are extremely passionate about their old school Toyotas. Last year's SEMA show marked a high point in the Renovales family's lifelong passion for vintage Toyotas; Toyota Motor Sales recognized them for all their efforts in drag racing vintage Toyotas in the west coast, and displayed the Renovales family's KE15 Sprinter (pictured above) in the Toyota Motorsports display area at the Las Vegas Convention Center for all to see. What a proud moment!
Unfortunately, I hear that Santos will be selling his KE15 Sprinter soon. If I owned such a car, I would never want to sell it (except maybe to Toyota, for their extremely lacking Toyota Museum in Torrance), but I'm sure Santos has a good reason for selling his baby. Well, and if I know Santos like I think I know him, we haven't seen the last of Santos Renovales and his monster wheelie popping vintage Toyotas… he most likely has another jaw dropping project in the garage!