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1983 Toyota Corolla Audio System

1983 Toyota Corolla Coupe From 1983 to 1984, I drove a 1983 Toyota Corolla. Originally, this car was intended for school transportation. But, I immediately started on a quest for a system. Since car audio was in its infancy in '83, as compared to what was available in the 90's, the system I implemented is pretty laughable by today's standards. The first system was a simple head-n-4 installation. A low-price Pioneer cassette was installed and connected to a cheap 4 channel 5-band equalizer. The outputs of the eq provided power to the factory kickpanel 4" speakers and a
pair of cheap 6x9 triaxials on the rear deck. There were no subwoofers for cars at the time, at least where I lived. Craig and some other manufacturers did have some small amplifiers available for years but the "scene" had not take off. Working minimum wage while going to school also limited the amount of funds available for purchasing equipment and the sound was not really THAT horrible when playing heavy metal. Granted, I was quite jealous of those who were able to purchase name-brand speakers which really DID sound much better than the cheap stuff. The car was eventually returned to my "parental devices" upon my purchase of a '79 Toyota Celica coupe.

Fast forward to 1989 and I was in need of another vehicle, in comes this same Corolla to save the day. The picture above shows what the vehicle looked like around 1992 after a custom paint job and other work.

When I received the vehicle back it still had the same factory system that I had put back when I returned the vehicle many years prior. This simply would not do and within a couple of months the system consisted of a Kenwood KRC-424 cassette headunit, the same factory kickpanel speakers, and a great pair of pair of JBL t900 6x9 coaxial rear speakers. I had learned a bit over the years with my Celica and the Kenwood/JBL components were some of the pieces I had remaining when the vehicle met its end. It was around this time that I finally got hooked on bass. The first upgrade to the system consisted of pairs of 12 and 8 inch MTX Terminator subs, and a Blaupunkt 30wx4 amplifier. As I had no clue as to subs and box requirements (nor power requirements, thus the small MTX terminator subs
Blaupunt amp) the 12's were first mounted behind the seat without an enclosure and the 8's were mounted on the back deck free-air style as well. The fist box was finally built for the 12's but was only big enough to cover the rear of the speakers or appx .3cf or so of air space. Yeah, it sounded horrible. Remember, this was now approximately 1991 and these subs required a huge amount of air space, unlike subs today. After numerous configurations and amp changes, I finally started to get a clue as to what was needed to get this car rocking....kind of...

Box Experimentation

The next configuration I had the 12's in 1cf enclosures which was somewhat better but still not large enough for these. I decided to port the enclosures and used ports WAY too small (something like sink drain tubes that were 1.5" diameter)...ugh....The picture above actually shows this configuration as you can see the 8" subs grilles on the back deck along with two smaller speaker grilles in the center covering the port locations...Yes, I had the ports run up to the back deck...Ugh number 2.

I then went to the next level and built an enclosure that took up much of my trunk and consisted in four of the 12" Teminators in a isobaric configuration. I was happy with none. I yanked those subs out, along with the pair of 8" subs on the back deck, and built a ported enclosure for one of the single 8" subs and it actually sounded decent, just had nowhere near the "bump" I wanted. I then purchased a Kicker C10 and built a 4th-order bandpass enclosure and ran that for a while. Sounded much better, but not enough bass. I then transitioned to a Orion 12" DVC in a sealed enclosure. Of the subs this was the cleanest in the system.

Amps and Electrical

The system started poor, that's for sure. The poor Blaupunkt amp gave everything it could and eventually it blew a channel or two. The first amp I purchased for the car to help with the MTX subs was a Sherwood BP-series 2/3/4 channel 240 watt amp. BP stood for bullet proof because as of 2012 it was put to use for a while in a friends vehicle and functioned flawlessly. Yeah, it's still around. After the Blaupunkt finally started to fade away I purchased a a/d/s ph12 (6x12w) to run the front stage, you would be surprised how much power can come out of a dedicated amp like that ph12. The last amp configuration was the replacement of the Sherwood for a USAmps 50HA that powered the Orion XTR12 DVC. Man, do I wish I had more pictures of the systems in this car. Life before digital cameras was harsh ;)

The Corolla came with a small 70amp or less charging system. The Sherwood amp itself could draw 30amps and then you have the amp for the other speakers, the radio, crossovers, EQ, heat, A/C, headlights....yeah, I drained a boat load of batteries and went through 3 or more alternators in a 3 year timeframe. Dimming headlights was the norm. Knowledge nor finances lead me to upgrading the alternator to one that could help provide the power I really needed. What was frustrating back then is something I look back at today and laugh. I knew so little.

The Interior

One of the more successful things done to the vehicle was the interior. It was not a botched hack job like the majority of everything else. It did go through numerous transitions. The front 4" kick panel speakers were eventually disconnected and a pair of Kenwood 5.25" speakers and tweeters were added to the doors. This transitioned eventually to a JBL T04 titanium tweeter and a pair of Rockford SP54 5.25" mids mounted in each door. Each pair of mids were bridged to a single a/d/s ph12 channel and shared approximately 25 watts. Does not sound like much but in such a small car did quite well. The tweeter received 12w by itself with its own cannel off the ph12. The two mids were mounted on the door and had removable custom grilles. The dash was also built up at this time. Center channels were becoming the rage in car audio so I built a custom console that housed a pair of Acoustic 1993 Toyota Corolla Dash
Research 3.25" speakers and was home to a Kenwood 4042 5-band passive EQ. The AR speakers were powered by a small Sony amp which also ran another pair of Rockford tweeters that were mounted in the air vents below the radio. It actually didn't do too bad a job at creating a soundstage, although it was a bit low. The radio had been upgraded to a Kenwood KDC-93R CD unit by this time.

Wanting more midbass, and having removed the 8" MTX by now, I purchased a pair of Kicker f6.5 free-air woofers. These were mounted in the back side panels of the car and had custom removable grilles which were formed into the panels itself. They received power from either 2 channels of the Sherwood amp or off the a/d/s ph12 dependent on what sub design I was using. They functioned OK but were never really that great for midbass drivers in this system. Probably due to lack of power from the charging system which was one issue I fought with from day 1. The rear deck had also been modified and had a 1-piece removable cover which worked quite well. The picture with this section shows the dash configuration. You can see the console and the locations of the AR speakers. You can also see the cone from one of the SP54 mids in the driver's door.

Toyota with Sherwood amp

The Trunk

The trunk finally started to receive some attention to detail at the same time the interior was. At NO POINT was it ever pretty nor clean. The picture on the left shows a portion of the trunk where I had started adding panels and covering portions with speaker cloth to match the interior. The configuration at this point consisted of the a/d/s/ ph12 (not shown in the picture) and the Sherwood 4 channel amp as shown with the power distribution block. From early on I needed some form of crossover and a Sony XEC-1000 did the job quite nicely and I really enjoyed the ease and flexibility of the unit to handle all the
constant changes I made. In my opinion it was much better than the AudioControl products which eventually replaced it in future installs. The sub configuration in the picture is the Kicker c10 bandpass enclosure.

All equipment was removed from the car in January 1993 when my '93 Probe GT was purchased. The Corolla was in the process of being put up for sale when the blizzard of '93 came rolling into the Atlanta Area. While Northerners may laugh and call it "A lil storm", Trust me, it was a mess (I've lived in Chicago and have dealt with large "storms" before). During the storm, a frozen Georgia pine tree decided to fall on the car (picture at right). While the damage was somewhat more than cosmetic, the value of the car was not worth the costs required to replace the roof, hood, and grille. The car was stripped for parts and went to the crusher.

Thus, the end of story....
1993 Toyota Corolla

1983 Toyota Corolla Coupe
1990 after first paint job
1983 Toyota Corolla Coupe
1992 with new spoiler and second paint job


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