So just picture yourself in the following situation: Your Dad owns and runs one of the most reputable suspension businesses in the country and specialises in making cars corner faster and smoother. How would you rebel against him and the family business?
Well it would seem that the best way would be to purchase a 1985 Toyota Corona and then taking full advantage of your Dad’s knowledge and his generous parts catalogue to slam it to the ground!!
Jokes aside though, Chris (the owner of this fine piece of machinery) actually works along side his Dad, Brett, for Shockworks. They are a local company pushing the boundaries of what shock absorbers can do in terms of both comfort and performance!
This Corona is just a way for Chris to have some fun.
Chris’ Corona started out life as one of 500 bog standard SR models, aside from some funky stickers, a front lip, boot lip and special steering wheel it was still just a another Corona. (Before Chris started tinkering of course!)
Fortunately it was however, lucky enough to be equipped with a 2.4 litre engine which was also found in the same age Hilux. While this is certainly not the pinnacle of performance as far as engines go, it is a step up from the original Corona powerhouse offered in the other models and makes for a good starting point for anyone thinking of modifying this car for performance purposes.
Since taking ownership of the Corona, Chris has kept modifications on the conservative side. Simple additions such as a pair of TE71 fender mirrors, genuine Bride seat and a Nardi steering wheel have helped inject a bit of excitement into the 1980’s Toyota economy box.
Chris’ real pride and joy is his set of SSR Starsharks. There was a point in time where he nearly considered selling the wheels and believe it or not, it was actually Chris’ girlfriend who convinced him otherwise and he ended up keeping them. Phew!
The impressive wheels measure in at 14×8″ -15 for the front and 14×9″ -25 for the rear.
Behind the wheels the braking performance has been upgraded with twin pot brakes and slotted rotors. In the very near future Chris plans on doing something some will see as sacrilege and others will simply see it as a cheap way to put a massive grin on your face.
Chris currently has a complete SR20DE+T engine setup sitting in his shed, he plans on putting it in over the next six months.
Once the conversion is complete he will be trying his luck at a few drift events and depending on how the setup performs and if there is enough grip, he will also be putting the Corona through a few sprint days too!
During our shoot with Chris’s car we found this very chilled out dog and so we decided to get a few shots of the little guy enjoying all the attention in his own driveway.
This dog wasn’t shy at all and very, very photogenic!
He took us through a few casual poses, working the camera like a pro, before we decided to move on…
The owner of the dog said that he gets a little excited by cars driving off and would try to stop us from leaving by any means necessary and he wasn’t kidding!!
The stand-off lasted for what can only be described as the longest three minutes of my life. After a few meters of crawling up the road, the dog eventually returned home safely.
Now back to Chris and his love affair of all things 1980’s, Toyota and classic Japanese styling!
The road to this Corona has been a long and windy one, a chat with Chris revealed he has owned over 10 pre-1990’s cars including 2 AE86 builds and a MA61 Supra!!
All the parts on this Corona have been in Chris’ possession for long time and seem to follow him from car to car, Chris’ philosophy is simple – “Suspension, seat and wheels. The rest doesn’t really matter.”
Over the years Chris has learned a lot about the physics and some of the myths behind suspension tuning from his old man. Now he can modify and build his very own shock absorbers to perfectly match his car/requirements from scratch! How cool is that?!
Shockworks is still a relatively young company. Founded by Brett (Chris’ Dad) the company was built off his reputation as one of the best suspension and damper specialists in the country, with over 20 years experience!
His career has seen him tune suspension for many companies and cars, from the humble Suzuki Swift to models from the HSV and FPV line up.
All tuning and valving is done in-house using the highest quality shock bodies that the boys can find. As the months go on, the range on offer has grown massively with replacement dampers and coil overs for many models including BA to FG Falcon, Skyline, Silvia, AE86, Evo, MX5 and even the new Toyota 86!!
But the good news doesn’t stop there! With many more parts to come, including something for all the Honda owners out there!
During the shoot Chris chucked me the keys to the car and said “Your turn”!
So it was now time for me to squeeze into the kidney destroying Bride bucket seat and after moving several of my internal organs I managed to get the seat belt clipped in and the key into the ignition barrel.
My ignorant knowledge of older Japanese cars had me expecting the Corona to awkwardly cough and splutter into life, I was instead greeted by the smooth growl of the 22RE engine kicking over instantly! It was like music to my ears.
Once I had the car traveling over 20kph it became immediately apparent as to how low it actually was. The smallest dips in the road would catch me off guard and would result in that all too familiar sound of the rear tyres screaming as they caught on the fenders.
The ride was pretty stiff at first and I felt a lot of the cars’ true 1980’s character coming through in each corner. I also felt a bit reluctant to drive with a bit of ‘spirit’ and but had to keep thinking to myself ‘Chris knows what he is doing so surely this is not all this quirky little Japanese sedan has to offer.’
A hesitant push on the accelerator had me approaching the next corner at the full ‘legal’ speed limit and all the way through without touching the brakes. The term ‘handles like it’s on rails’ immediately sprang to mind.
Turning the car anywhere but the ideal line through the corner had me feeling like death was imminent, exactly like a roller coaster fighting to break free from it’s tracks. Whereas when I allowed the car to follow the line I found myself rewarded with a very fast and smooth run through each and every corner, even on the bumpiest of surfaces!!
The only flaw in the cars’ abilities was actually my own driving style!
(Since the shoot Chris has been messing with the shocks some more and says that low speed comfort has been increased dramatically! I can’t wait to give it another go!!)
So while this simple and clean sedan doesn’t scream for attention from the outside it still manages to break plenty of necks for anyone game enough to sit inside during a ‘fun’ drive!
We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Chris, his car and a strange dog.
We’ll keep this post updated once the new engine setup is installed and we’ll be sure to let you guys know about anything exciting happening at Shockworks HQ!
Chris would like to thank the following people…
“A big thanks to Brett at Shockworks for teaching me what I know and letting me raid the stocks when I needed something for this, Leigh at Inverse Tyres for always looking after me, the team at GSS for putting me on and my girlfriend Laura, for not just putting up with me spending every spare cent I have but convincing me to keep the Starsharks when I was considering selling them last year”
Thanks for reading,
Images from Brendan aka Blacktopimags and Gwyn.