Hello. My name is Praveent Chelvam and I am 19 this year. Kenapa saya cinta JDM? “Kenapa saya cinta JDM” means “why do I love JDM” in Bahasa Melayu. I am from Malaysia and I come from a small town named Ipoh. I have been in love with JDM for 17 years and counting. And this small red Toyota Corolla KE20 Deluxe named Mona started it all.
This car was my first ride and ignited my passion for JDM. When I was small this car was used by my grandparents to transport me around. Mona came into my family when my grandfather realized that my grandmother needed a car to travel when she was working. Once I had to ask my grandfather,
Praveent : Of all cars why did you buy Mona?
Grandfather : I had this lovely connection with her when I first took her for a test drive. And at that moment I realize she was different and she was the one that I will spent the rest of my life with. She’s like my second wife.
But up till now, I still feel a strong connection with this car. Mona was beside me as I grew up. Mona also never gave up on any family members who used her to travel and even now, she is in tip-top condition, all thanks to my grandparents.
In 2009, I got my license and Mona was the first car that I drove. I could feel myself bonding with her, driving her as if connected with one soul. Mona’s movements swaying as you turn her left and right, due to the suspension design of the 70’s. Up front MacPherson struts and transverse leaf springs were mounted beneath the engine cross-member and out back; leaf springs were connected to a solid axle.
Even today, I still drive Mona around. She grew up with me, took responsibility of bringing me around and now I am driving her. It was an honor for me to drive her then and it still is now. In the 3 years I’ve driven Mona, I almost died 3 times, but luckily, a combination of reflex and Mona’s quick responses to my action, saved both of us.
Mona is a wonderful car and the part I love the most about her is driving her at night; enjoying the cold breeze and listening to her rumble as we glide through a quite road. Honestly, nothing can beat that. Leaving my hand hanging out the window while driving with no worries in the world is the best feeling ever. Mona’s interior didn’t have many changes as everything in her was original and the seats are still as comfortable since that first time I sat in her. The seats themselves were trimmed in leather and still don’t have any scars on them. The black retro dashboard is pristine and the part I love most on Mona is her steering wheel; a classy, black, wooden steering wheel that made my day every time I drove her around.
Weather did not stop me from driving her. Hot weather and heavy rains did not stop me from bringing her around. I trust and believe in her that she won’t fail on me. No other cars overcome my trust for my red Mona. Mona followed my grandmother uphill when she was working as a milk supplier for the natives on Cameron Highlands. Even in those cold conditions, she never failed. Back when my grandmother was working, my grandfather knew that his wife was completely safe.
Sometimes people ask how I stand the hot days and cold mountain air in such an old car. My usual answer is like always, I have learnt to adapt to Mona. If you love something so much, you would change or adapt to the things you love. My grandfather once told me, “Appreciate things now before they’re gone for good and before you come to regret it in the future.”
Up to today Mona is still running on the original 3-K, with 49kW of power from a 1.2L 8-valve carburetor engine. Everything on her is fully original, from the steel wheels to the chrome skirting. We didn’t want to spoil her beauty; she is beautiful in her original form. Every nut and bolt on her is as it came from the very first day she arrived from the factory. From suspension to engine, it is the same till now. My grandfather did a good job keeping her in her original form.
A special Thank You to Retrobodykits guiding me on how to maintain Mona and my grandparents for taking good care of her.
7TUNE. The Ultimate JDM Experience Since 2005
Words – Praveent Chelvam
Photos – Praveent Chelvam