Imagine, a dystopian reality, one where 1980s Japan had a ban on sake, much like how real world 1940s America had a ban on illegally home brewed 'moonshine' down south which the people loved but the government couldn't stand just because it wasn't taxed. What ensued were the moonshine-runners, born out of necessity and backed by big city gangsters like Al Capone, to 'run' the cheap stuff coast to coast to illegal bars, or 'speakeasies'. Canonball record in the 1930s anyone? The 'moonshine runners' in their beefed up yet stealthy hot rods outran the government agents in their run off the mill police cruisers in the solace of the night. And thus, NASCAR was born a couple of years later, also out of necessity (really is the mother of invention eh?)
Now imagine Japanese gangsters, i.e the Yakuza backing home brewed sake runners, to run the sweet stuff while evading the Japanese rozzers (police) in their heavily equipped (for comfort) Nissan Cedrics and Toyota Crowns chasing Japanese sake runners in their version of moonshine runners, which I am willing to wager would look something like Mahir Zawad's 1982 Toyota Corolla KE70 GL edition. At first glance, it can and will pass off as any muscle car, like an 80s dodge charger squished from end to end to shorten its wheelbase. Heck, it would even pass off as a prop vehicle in any of the movies from the fast and furious franchise. Most likely jumping off of cliffs or evading bad guys on ice in the name of Family.
Following a tip-off from a friend on a Ke70 for sale, as he tells me, set him off on his impulse crusade to acquire it. It was a long time dream based on a car his uncle had. He googled Bosozoku builds online and dreamt of doing the same. Wide wheels, stretched tires and old Japanese iron.
Following an accident in 2017 involving the KE70 one night, his rebuild project began with Alfred's blessing, "Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up" as he comforted Master Wayne. With the help of his elder brother, Tanweer Zaman, whose red GRB STi hatch we featured many moons ago, Mahir Zawad counts himself lucky as the rebuild started taking it's desired widebody shape. 'Borrowing' parts and a set of deep dish Watanabe's which were meant for his brother's AE86, the restomod project started taking shape. The difference in its dimension is night and day when it's parked next to a regular bog standard E70 Corolla. The flared arches are angled just right to house the 15" deep dish 9j and10.5j (front and rear respectively) Watanabe wheels wrapped in 225 Toyo Proxes. Gone are the bumpers, both front and rear, like a drag car. which complements its demeanor.
It is scientifically proven that old cars look ten times cooler with their safety regulated steel or plastic bumpers off, the differences in US and EU spec cars being a testament, i.e the bumper guards in all US spec Ferrari F40. Okay, so the science involves a lot of petrolheads snorting coffee cup after coffee cup while huddled over images of cars others would call…. 'old model er gari'.
The ageing carbureted 4K was wrenched away to make way for the beefier and popular EFI 7K found in Toyota Noahs, mated to a low range 5 speed from a Hilux, ditching the Spartan-like factory 4 speed. This is a popular setup in Bangladesh for Mazda RX8s with blown rotaries. Because this thing has torque and reliability.
The pumped up kicks are rebounded by HWL coilovers, while the chassis dynamics was rigidified with a host of Ultra Racing and Cusco strut bars, Polyurethane bushes, in conjunction with rear control arms from an AE86. The car does not handle like it was meant to from factory, rivaling modern sports cars dare I say. This is how you keep an old soul running. The car as the owner, analogizing himself to an old soul tells me, blood, sweat and tears aside has taught him a lot of things. Most importantly, humility and patience. As project cars lead to a never ending road to progress, Mahir Zawad hopes for the best as he tells me how the build has amazed him, as well as win hearts and minds of people online, even from countries far away.
Wondering what Hippari means? A Japanese car culture term for stretched tires.
Photos: Ahbar Milky