May 25, 2021 By Francis G. Pallarco Photos by the author

Rare Toy: 2000 Toyota Corolla SR VVTi

Here’s the thing, this particular 3-door hatch by Toyota wasn’t offered in Japan or anywhere in Asia which explains why there isn’t a single one roaming our streets. So where in the world can it be found? In the land of royalty, which is in the United Kingdom. Starting with a thorough search of potential candidates from second hand car dealers through the internet, Mar Medina III sought the car of his dreams.

His search led him to a pristine, low-mileage, left-hand drive (LHD) unit that came complete with all the factory installed accessories. Since all the transaction in terms of procuring the car was all done through the internet, it was certainly a daunting experience for Mar to actually buy something he hasn’t seen. But he convinced the seller to agree where he would wire 50 percent as down payment and wire the other 50 as soon as the car arrived.

In addition, Mar also needed a lot of help from his circle of friends and connections as to how to legally bring the car over here and have it registered. After shelling out major bucks and enduring months of waiting, the rest as they say is history.

This rarity before us is a 2000 model, European-spec, Corolla SR 3-door, hatchback. It shares its platform with our locally available Corolla “Lovelife” (AE111) except for the engine and trims of course, making it a bit parts friendly.

2000 Toyota Corolla SR VVTi

While our local “Lovelife” Corolla came with either a 4AFE 1.6-liter engine (GL) or a 1.3-liter 2E engine (XL), this Euro-bred hatchback came with a much modern 1.6-liter, 3ZZFE VVTi engine. Its factory rated to put out 109 BHP and 110 lb-ft of torque which makes use of Toyota’s eager Variable valve Timing System (VVTi) and six-speed manual transmission.

While it could have been fitted with an aftermarket intake exhaust and headers, Mar opted to keep it stock for now. That’s because he already has a more performance oriented 1.8-liter, 2ZZGE engine just waiting to be installed. Future plans include a bolt-on Blitz supercharger kit that should make it produce even more serious power.

To promote better road adhesion without sacrificing comfort, the stock struts have been upgraded to a set of Monoflex coil over dampers from TEIN. The factory discs on each corner were also upgraded with bigger cross-drilled and vented rotors from DBA that give the car more stopping power. As for the rims, it’s also a rare item as these Euro-looking, nine-spoke, 17-inch Toyota Team Europe (TTE) “Grand Prix” rims were also sourced from the UK being the second to the last pair on stock.

If you noticed the front end, it doesn’t have the familiar “bug eye” Euro-1 headlight set up. This is because this model sports the face lifted Euro-2 version, which makes it even harder to look for. As for the front splitter and wrap around body kit, it all comes as standard OEM with this variant. While the sporty and functional inspired interior remains stock, it does have racy-looking bucket seats, electric sunroof, and red stitching that can be found on the leather steering wheel and shift boot.

While most may assume the flawless silver paint job to be stock, it’s actually been refinished by Alex car Restoration with a subtle hue of silver that further adds to its Euro-appeal. The audio system is another thing altogether for it is made up of select high-end components.  Most noteworthy of which is the Macintosh amps and the Pioneer sound processor that enable it to compete with the best in Sound Quality (SQ) audio competitions. In fact, it became the SQ Champion in its class.

From its boat ride from the U.K. down to what it has become, overall, this hatch is certainly one of a kind. As for those who claim to have a Euro-set up ride, I guess this one beats ‘em all for this one actually hails from the U.K.



2000 Toyota Corolla SR VVTi

Mar Medina III



3ZZ-FE, 1.6-liter, Inline-4, aluminum block and heads, Multi-point fuel injection

16v, DOHC with Variable Valve Timing (VVTi)


6-Speed Manual


Power & Torque                                 

109 HP, 110 lb-ft @3800 rpm (Factory Specs)

Suspension Mods:

TEIN Monoflex coil-over dampers with stabilizer bar

Brake Mods:

DBA Cross-drilled and vented rotor discs


Toyota Team Europe (TTE) “Grand Prix” Wheels (17×8)

Nitto Neo-Gen Tires (205/40/ZR17)

Body and Paint:

Alex Car Restoration using DuPont Rolls Royce silver

Audio Gear:

Pioneer ODR RS-D7R Head Unit, Pioneer ODR RS-P90 Universal Digital Preamp

Focal BE No.7 Speaker separates, Focal BE (10-inch) Subwoofer

McIntosh amplifier MCC404M, McIntosh amplifier MCC302

Uprated alternator, Powermaster batteries (X2), Bewith Interconnects

Audio install:

Blueprint Concept Audio


Kudos To:

David Feliciano of DMF Drift Garage, Alex Isip of Alex Car Restoration

Pong Malolos of BNT Auto Detailing, Oliver Ang of RIKEN Motors

Gel Sales & Adrian Malabanan of Blueprint Audio Concepts

Car Awards:

Champion- 1st leg EMMA, Advanced 5-Channel SQ

Best in Paint- 2010 Manila Auto Salon

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