I just can't wait to get back to Japan, especially when I look at photos of cars like this. What we're looking at here is a KP47 Toyota Starlet, with TRD works overfenders. I admittedly don't know too much about the specs of this particular car, but I just can't help but drool over it. These are the types of cars that get me giddy; excitedly shaking my head and salivating like a little kid.
The car is most likely powered by a built up K-series engine. Just to clear things up, I'm referring to a 3K, 4K or 5K pushrod engine, NOT a Honda K20! Early KP47 Starlets and KE25 Corollas came with 1200cc 3K engines in Japan, which are pint sized pushrod engines, but enjoyed some success in racing. The odd thing about these 3K and 4K engines is that the intake runners that lead to the carburetors also sit in between the pipes of the exhaust manifold – hardly an efficient design. The problem with this is that the hot air temperatures radiating outward from the headers would lead to heating up the intake air coming into the engine from the intake runners. To build power, you want intake air to be COLD, not hot! Everyone knows that!
In later years, the KE25 Corollas were built as TE27s with 2TG and 2TC hemispherical, or hemi heads. "Hey, you got a hemi in that there thing?" That basically means that the head pulls in intake air from a manifold on one side of the engine, and the exhaust manifold pushes out the hot gases on the other side of the engine. It makes perfect sense. It helps keep things efficient, as the intake air stays cooler, making more power as the overall result.
However, I just can't help but respect the guys who made power out of these 1200cc and 1300cc K series engines in the 1970s. In order to do so, teams like JUN Auto Mechanic (at that time, it was called Tanaka Machine Shop), Tom's Racing and Tosco were boring out the engines and fitting wider, higher compression pistons inside, with stronger, lighter connecting rods, dual valve springs and stainless steel big valves, gear drives, lightened flywheels, ported intake manifolds and high rise headers… things like that. These are all the things that make me fall in love with vintage Toyotas over and over again. I can't wait to get back to Japan and surround myself with more of this vintage Toyota goodness.