Garage Zero: David Ridinger’s Rotary Corolla

If you’ve ever seen an old school from Atlanta, chances are it has gone through or been touched by Garage Zero. Even if you are not a fan of old school cars or have never owned one in Atlanta, you already know how Garage Zero gets down.  This car is owned by David Ridinger who works at Garage Zero as their resident rotor head and 1st gen Rx7 fanatic.  We got some time with his newest project that was saved from rotting in a field and suffering a slow death.

When it comes to old school imports, there are some that are purists, striving to keep them original and restoring them back to showroom condition.  On the other hand, you have guys that prefer to take an old school as a blank canvas and create their own masterpiece.  Mr. Ridinger is a bit of both. He is a purist to his rotary ways with his vehicles and his 1st gen Rx7s,  but anything other than that becomes whatever he sees fit.  The Corolla started out as a car that was running and driving when it arrived at Garage Zero.  A few months later David decided to put the car together for his brother Cliff (Cliff’s G35).   The car was designed to be a long term project for the 2 brothers, with David taking care of the swap and Cliff being the body/paint man.  There were some delays with the Corolla but it was finally put on the street and running just in time for The Mitty at Road Atlanta.     

David has been riding the car as his daily driver for the last month and a half and it has proven to be one of the best carburated  rotary vehicles I have been around.  It starts on the first turn of the key with not even a tap of the gas pedal.  Garage Zero is not like most shops, it’s one of the few shops that will find you a car that you never think exists and will let your imagination run free with it.  Whether you want to build a car that sits in a parking lot and is admired by the purists or you want to revive your old school to be a monster on the track, they’re the shop to go to.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, David is a bit of both but only when it comes to his Rx cars.  As you can tell with the Corolla, any other vehicle is a blank canvas. There is a certain style to the way this corolla looks, although David did not set out and directly say how he pictured the end result.  It just had to be slammed and be rotary powered.

An oil cooler is very necessary for any rotary swapped vehicle. David chose to position the cooler on the outside of the bumper instead of the traditional location.  For me I really think it depends on the vehicle and the style  of the build. 

The engine bay is pretty bare, with minimal bling on the 6 inch velocity stacks attached to the Weber carbs.

Most of the aesthetics are from the car’s natural characteristics. 

The final color of the car when the body work starts has yet to be chosen.

This Corolla was “supposed” to be for his brother since Cliff enjoyed driving David’s rotary powered Datsun 210 coupe so much, and David had the car and everything needed to put it together. I can only wish my brother would be so generous.

The car’s dash was still in good condition so it remained, but the carpet and everything else is gone besides the seats from a Corolla GTS.  We will be continuing to follow the build with this Corolla so if you are on any of our social media pages you will see updates.

That is all for the photos of David’s Corolla, but it is the first of the old schools we have for the week.  



Joseph Dale SF Owner/Editor Born in Houston, Texas Lives in Atlanta, GA Mazda Lover