Mike’s TE27 just seized my attention as soon as I got the glimpse of this red beast. Introduced by a fellow old school Toyota owner (KP), Neil, from Klassified; I first met Mike Muniz at AutoCon. Standing still, you’ll know that this Corolla was meant to be unkind to whoever challenges it on the track. One will easily notice hints such as racing seats, roll cage, ear head phone and Advan tires to name a few.
After reading the details that Mike had provided me about his ride and as passionate as he is about his build, I’ve decided that with this feature I’ll let Mike take you to a good read in his own words. No need to alter what he had put together – putting a good twist to this feature. And here’s how it goes…
…This is how it all got started. I moved here from the Philippines when I was 17 years old in 1987. I quickly got a job as a parts guy at Trak Auto (now known as O’Reilly Auto Parts). I saved up all my hard earned cash and searched for a TE27 (all the fast and cool guys owned a TE27 or KE25 in Manila), but there were none to be found in decent shape that is. Then I get a call from a longtime friend that lives in Japan who told me that there were two TE27s for sale and that he could not afford to purchase the cars since him and his wife just bought a new house and had no more extra funds to spend on 2 project cars. Not knowing the laws for importing cars to the United States, I did not care and could not pass up the opportunity.
The previous owner had been a collector who had planned on restoring the pair; but like most projects, having the car dismantled both time and money ran out. The project rusted away in a make shift garage for over 10 years. The owner eventually passed away and his son put both cars up for sale. That’s when I came in…
Shipping the cars from Japan was fairly easy since my friend from Japan had an Import/Export furniture business that bought goods from the United States then sold it in Japan. Registering both cars however turned into a sea of red tape. After a few calls and vehicle “modifications: the car you see now finally got registered (the other one took another 20 years to get registered and restored… that’s another story in itself). Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here… back to the condition of the car when I opened the shipping container. I was shocked and thought what did I get myself into? The previous owner had stripped the care thinking he was going to restore the cars. As time went on, a lot of the parts got lost or got thrown away over the years; and then there was the rust! There was a good deal of rust pretty much everywhere! The car had been off the road for many years and parts supply for these cars dried up. I tried to save as many of the body panels as I can but front fenders and rear quarter panel’s where too badly rusted to save. So I made it a routine to visit the 4 pick-a-part junk yards in my area daily, till I was able to get decent fenders and rear quarter panels that would be later grafted onto the car. I had the bodywork done by a local shop in my area and just had it in black primer (since I was new to the country, I did not know where to go).
Fast forward to 1998, eventually through the guys at TNT Motorsport (JD Recto and Brooks Manabat), I met Popoy or PJ as most know him at PJ Bonifacio AutoBody. PJ made sure every body panel was straight then it was painted in a custom red hue. To this day 15 years later after many track events, the paint still looks great.
The car was right hand drive back when I first got it and had the original 2TG engine, I then converted it to left hand drive and used several components from a USA spec 1974 TE-27 donor car so it could pass US safety standards and ease registration in California. After the car was approved to be registered in California, I kept the car left hand drive for ease in road racing conditions where it was easier for me to shift gears since the “H” pattern of the transmission does not really change. Several parts of the vehicle had been “acid dipped” for lightening; now the vehicle weighs 1920 lbs. with me in it (I weigh 280lbs).
The car is set up for road race and also sees track time in autocross events. The car has had many engine installed in it including, the factory 2TG that was fully modified, 3TC full race NA, turbocharged 3TC, 4AGE 16V, 4AG 20V, 3TGTE and a 3SGTE, some did not give me the power ban I needed, and others made the car nose heavy and would under steer in high speed corners. I have to confess, I used to rotaries. Then one day a friend took me for a ride in his track prepped 1974 TE27 that had a blow through turbo 13B rotary engine in it. I was amazed on how quickly it turned; (light weight engine and the rotary’s low center mas) so I had a blow through turbo 13B installed in my Corolla. It was actually overpowered and made it unpredictable believe it or not as well as made the car a hand full to enjoy on the track. I then installed a full Bridgeport 12A rotary engine that was built by Jarrett Lynch and was originally used in his RX-2 to set a record as the quickest naturally aspirated ¼ mile in California. That motor eventually found a home in my engine compartment, after re-jetting it for road racing, the car was perfect. Power ban started at 6000 rpm and redlined at 11000 rpm. The engine and transmission was pushed back towards the firewall while the car was on a 4 point scale to make sure we got a 50/50 split in weight. After everything was welded, we re-weighed the car and found the front got a little lighter, so I transferred the batter back to the front to make up for the weight gain. The car handles great. I’ve tested it at Laguna Seca raceway, Willow Springs, Road Atlanta and Button Willow. After a few hard runs, the apex seals retired. I was originally going to rebuild the motor but as luck would have it, I have a friend who was on his way to Australia with a shipping container full of USDM front clips. So I asked him if my little rotary could hitch a ride in the container and if he could drop the 12A at PAC, and of course he said yes.
After a short wait, my newly built Monster Port 12A is back is America, I did not waste any time and installed the little motor that could in my road racer. I filled the gas tank with the recommended C16 race fuel mixed with Klotz Supertechniplate 2-stroke oil (1:1 ratio); I fired it up… and God DaYUUM!!! The f#%king thing was loud and wild- Louder and crazier sounding than the full Bridgeport engine that it once was. I have not had a chance to track the car yet since I have been so busy with work and another restoration project (1972 Trueno Sprinter). But I’m pretty sure this thing would be a Track Killa!
There you have it, straight from the builder himself Mike Muniz and his track ready TE27.
Until the next one… Peace
Mike Muniz’s – 1973 Toyota TE-27 Specifications
Engine & Transmission
*Mazda 12A Monster ported by PAC and set up for Road Racing & Autocross
*Engine has all Racing Beat internals.
*Racing Beat oil pan windage tray
*Engine and Transmission moved back 6” for better weight distribution
*Weber IDA 48mm carburetor bored out to 51mm and custom made by Shawn Green
*Mallory Comp 140 fuel pump
*Mallory Comp 140 fuel filter & additional glass filter in engine compartment
*Mallory fuel pressure regulator
*Custom ½ fuel line
*Modified stock fuel tank (anti-splash foam installed)
*NGK Race spark plugs R6725-115
*Modified distributor by Rotary Shack
*MSD 8.5mm red super conductor spark plug wires
*2 Crane Cams HI-6R Ignition box
*2 Crane Cams PS92 Ignition Coils
*Glimmer Underdrive pulley system
*Tilton Double-Disc Clutch and “light” Flywheel assembly
*Mazda Turbo II 5-speed transmission with short shift kit
*Custom 2-pass radiator from Rotary Works
*Sard thermostat for the street, by-pass blocked when racing
*3 Electric radiator fan system
*Custom aluminum engine mount and transmission mount by Rotary Shack
*3” Custom exhaust system (For on road use. Used w/ exhaust system quick disconnect)
*Race Ready electronic exhaust cutout with “Megs” megaphone
*Moroso 3” exhaust resonator
*Hushpower 3” muffler
*Racing Beat “Road Race” headers
*Quick cable power disconnect
*TRD struts and springs from AE86 (front)
*Single composite rear leaf springs
*Hardened rear axle/suspension locator bolts
*Tokico Illumina 5-way adjustable rear shocks
*Cusco front adjustable camber plates
*Mazda Factory Race hardened driveshaft yoke
*Custom Aluminum driveshaft
*TRD 4:11 Limited-slip differential
*Hardened rear axles
*9×13” TRD Tosco alloy wheels
*Yokohama ADVAN tires 215/50R13 rear 185/60R13 front
*Modified front brake calipers (board and larger piston)
*Modified brake proportioning valve
*EBC “bluestuff” race brake pads
*Brembo front brake discs
*Electronic race transponder
*Vintage TRD race bucket seats
*TOM’s racing 4-point harness
*Custom carpeting and custom black headliner
*Aluminum & carbon fiber shift knob, E-brake handle, pedals & steering wheel.
*Grant removable steering wheel security kit.
*Computech Exhaust Gas Temperature Plus
*All new moldings and dashboard
*Acid dipped front fenders and both doors for lightening
*Custom red by P.J. Bonifacio Motorcars Autodesign & Autobody (painted 13 yrs ago)
*Chin spoiler and rear spoiler
*Rear bumper tail lamp guard trim
*Original complete Levin badges
*Modified Oil cooler
*Rare TE27 chrome trim around the front grill
*Extended front and rear tow straps/ring
*All new window seals
*Solex locks on both doors and trunk