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Life and Times of a JDM Import

Steve gee

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Those who don't know me. my name is Steve, I hail from Western Victoria Australia and have been the owner of a JDM (possibly one of the first) MY 1973/12 Corona GT, aka as a RT104-MQFG-012604.

The story of acquisition in 1975/12 is a story in itself but won't bore you to tears. I figure a pic is worth 1000 words so here come the pics.

Current status of the car is some TLC while parts are still around.

This week I have been receiving e-parcels from all over OZ, new rotors (the actually make a drilled slotted now) pads, water pump, battery, even going for new copper radiator and some rechromed front and rear bumpers.

I will add to the time line day by day, but at 67 I am enjoying semi retirement working from when the sun shines under my roller door and the cats and I defrost, until the sun is over the western roofs and I head inside.

Today I managed to get the front and rear bumpers off and replaced the circa 1979 Monroe GT130 and GT139 Monaro dual action shockers with some new generation Monroe reflex action GTs.

The hard part was accessing the back section sealed panel which was fitted before the 1977 Singapore Airlines London to Sydney Rally, in which this car was a service truck carrying spares and fuel over several thousand KM of outback Australian roads.

Edited by Steve gee
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OK in Chrome browser see if I can post photos


Yay thats the link to the JDM 104 time line.

Here is Stephos LINK


Wow going well here

Here is the crazy car spotter

Wasabi Cars (和錆カーズ) is a website all about car-spotting in Japan. Each car is special. There are old cars, imported cars, abandoned cars, JDM's, plus plus


If you ever go to Japan you must go to Western Japan Fukuoka.


  1. The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, also known as Toyota Tecno Museum, is a technology museum located in Nishi-ku in the city of Nagoya, central Japan. Another museum is the Toyota Automobile Museum, also located in Nagoya.Wikipedia
  2. Address: 4-1-35 Noritakeshinmachi, Nishi Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 451-0051, Japan


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Singapore Airlines London to Sydney rally

Nalder and Richards Stawell Toyota Class A winners.


60 Victoria Toyota Dealers George Nadler (AU)
Noel Richards (AU) Toyota Corolla


My participation was as a journalist/radio reporter for Macquarie Broadcasting by way of Radio 3HA Hamilton where I was a technician:----I carried spares for Car 60 and was their communications officer.


In Dec 1973 RT104GT-MQFG serial number 012604 was prepared for the Toyota Division in South Melbourne (Australian Motor Industries).
It was driven off a boat in Feb 1974 and registered LUO833 sight unseen by Vic Roads and began its life as a developmental car that AMI was going to assess for suitability to import in limited numbers.
I understand that the MD of AMI drove it around along with a purple GT Celica.
I am told more often it did 180's on wet roads when driven by his wife on Yokaham radials.
It was quite powerful to drive..
It ran the Toyota high compression 18RG engine, P51 F series gearbox and 4.111 7.5 inch LSD.
The live rear axle is totally unique to TRD nothing like a Corona, it has pins and locating rods and the whole car set up more like a sports sedan than a Corona.
It had a top speed demonstrated of exactly 200 km/h at 6500 rpm in 5th.
In 1975 it passed thru dealers including Weribbee and then onto Stawell Dealer Nalders and was driven by mechanic Steve Baird.
In June 1974 Modern Motor did a full page liftout story in full colour.
In late 1976 Nalders called me and said if I wanted it to go to a Toyota Dealer in Campbellfield and offer them $4500, I could buy the car.
It was being trucked to Sydney.
I intercepted the car on a Friday and paid $2000 deposit and the balance on the Monday and acquired it with 52000 km of developmental time on the speedo.
I was told go away take it away do not tell people that these cars are for sale cos they are not going to be offered here in Australia.
In 1977 Toyota approached me to use the car as a service vehicle in the 1977 Singapore Airlines London to Sydney Rally and it was used to service ultimate Class A winner Wes Nalder and Noal Richards in their 3KB Corolla Coupe.
It was seconded to Toyota again in 1978 to support the three Celica GT's driven by Hilton, Hurrey and Nalder in the Repco Around Australia trial and again conveyed personnel and parts to wherever they were needed in the east coast rally.




Edited by Steve gee
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Restoration Stage One.

A few people have criticised the use of such a special car for outback trails, but you must remember this was a developmental car, and the feedback to AMI Toyota resulted in a decision not to import this variation of the RT104 and stick with tried and proven technology.

Near sighted maybe in view of the subsequent importation of countless 18RG engines which were fitted into Celica and Corona clones.

Given that this RT104GT is basically sound and roadworthy 37 years on is testament to its sturdy design.

BUT it was proof coated and dipped with anti corrosion undercoat and did not suffer the fate of so many RT104s that were not treated in this way.

Roads travelled







Home at last November 1977


Perth, Laverton, Gunbarrel Giles, Alice, Tanami Loop, Port Augusta, Flinder Ranges, Temora, Wilcania, Quilpie, Brisbane, Tamworth, Newcastle, Sydney.


1989 roughly12 years later after kids at school I pulled the 104 out of the shed and washed it.

The lawn was brown.

Then vacuumed out kg of dust from rear boot area sealed off from main cabin by dust barrier.

By 2006 it was fully restored down to the BWA TRD alloys






November 2013

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So what was it like to own and drive a 2000GT in 1976?

It was a quick, unprententious, orphan, often misjudged by Torana and Monaro owners as a rice burner.


18RG 1111-88210 9.7:1 CR PULP only engine.

Some of the issues:

Slow down the water pump with smaller pulley on crankshaft to stop radiator over pressure and splitting the solder in the top tank.

Head gasket/shims blowing at front due to fine thread bolt holes, rectified by retapping block to 14MM medium thread.

Upgraded to Yamaha head 88230 and variable dowel camshaft gears.

Diff changed to 3.9 for longer legs and lower revs.

P51 gearbox bearings replaced at 100,000 km

Top overhaul at 140,000 new rings and bearings.

Mikuni solex repaired by Shaun Maloney Collingwood in 1995.


Pretty luxurious by old school Corona standards.

5 speed P51 Gearbox, F series 4.111 LSD.


Engine bay 2013



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And for now I am otherwise occupied having just put the first JDM GT4 1989 on club plates

  • 37575H 1990 Celica GT4 All Wheel Drive. MY October 1989 - Narrow E-ST185-BLMVZ GT-Four Air-To-Air intercooler,
    The E150F with 4.285 final gear ratio was installed in the Japanese market and All-trac, Engine is a twin cam 2.0 L turbocharged 3S-GTE producing 149 kW (203 PS; 200 hp) and 200 lb·ft (270 N·m) of torque.


  • The ST185 GT4 won 16 full WRC series, and 3 overall winner in the W2L series. WRC Driver's Titles with Carlos Sainz in 1992, Juha Kankkunen in 1993, and Didier Auriol in 1994. WRC Manufacturer's Titles in 1993, 94 and 95.
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Friday 16th May

started at 0800

Front and rear bumper bars replaced including those stupid round headed bolts that hold the bar to the bracket.

Had to angle grind one off and also the blind bolt on the attach bracket.

I have had new bars for about 4 years never fitted, now I have glad of it.

Then removed the old rotors and fitted the new slotted drilled set I got from Online Performance Autos at hallam.

I thought I had pads but not to be so shoe horned so NOS ones that were in a box.

Spayed a bit of Fishoil around on all the brown covered metal springs leaf springs.

Waiting on rear discs from Hallam, this GT was converted years ago to four wheel discs but the rotors cost a fair bit as they are disc and drum brake hand brake models like the GT4 and Camry rears.

Next week.

Master Brake cylinder.

Clutch master

rear rotors.


Front upper and lower ball joints

radiator third one in 40 years

Water pump

re-upholstery of seats

maybe new moulded carpet set.

decision about wheels and tyres to run with original steelies, or the 5.5 inch BWAs I inherited with the car.

rear windscreen (which was smashed in 1978 have had clear glass in as fitted in Brisbane)

I have tinted rear glass to go in

Trip to Miyazaki and Fukuoka in June

Find a clock from Japan.

Continue talks with Toyota at Nagoya about donating car back to museum.

decision about original long motor whether to rebuild it and fit so numbers match fwiw.

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