There is just something so right about dropping a big motor in a little car. Especially if it’s a V8! It was something that Sakai-san from motorFIX had been thinking about for years and finally last year, he went for it. From a mechanical point of view the Toyota 1UZ now residing under the lightweight carbon bonnet of the motorFIX KE70 has double the cylinders of the 4AG that preceded it and well more than double the capacity.
It’s by no means a performance motor, having been designed more for wafting big luxurious Lexus and Toyota cars in silence down the street, but it somehow just suits the Corolla perfectly. It’s got just the right amount of power and torque and plenty of reliability, which at the end of the day is probably the most important thing in a drift car.
But before we get to the oily bits lest take a quick look at the exterior of the motorFIX Corolla. Since we last saw the car at last year’s Nagoya Exciting Car Showdown it has slightly changed. It’s hard life on track has kind of dictated most of the alterations, unavoidable patch-ups and the odd dent here and there. At the time of the shoot the car was wearing SSR XR4 Longchamps up front…
…and Diamond Racing Wheels at the rear, 15-inch all round, 8.5J up from and slightly wider 9J at the rear. Sakai-san runs nice and sticky Dunlop Direzza rubber at the front while the rear gets any old cheap tire, 195/50R15 size on each corner.
Due to a recent crash at a drift event the rear of the Corolla has had a little aesthetic remodeling; the rear bumper is still missing in action and to kind of mask the surface damage a little imaginative finger painting has occurred…
…spanning all the way around the passenger side of the car, right up to the custom blistered fenders. Sakai-san tells me that the motorFIX motto is never to waste too much money on the appearance of the car, just on functional modifications. What’s the point of blowing money on expensive aero and then not having enough cash left to drift, pay gas or tires. Plus it is drifting, so sooner or later you are going to crash. How about that for function over form.
The KE70′s most menacing angle has to be this one right here. Viewed head on it oozes aggression, from that low stance to the aggressive offset and negative camber of the wheels. Sakai-san runs Bilstein dampers all round, special items built for motorFIX by Ennepetal and specifically set up for the car and the added weight of the V8. Taking care of braking duties are EG6 front calipers and disc, while the rear is balanced out with AE86 calipers and Nissan S13 Silvia discs.
It was really cool to see that Sakai-san applied the Speedhunters sticker I gave him last year at the Nagoya show!
Ok so I know it’s the engine you all want to see so let’s lift up that hood and have a nice long look at the match made in heaven that has gone on here.
It’s a tight fit but thanks to a lot of prep work down on the engine mounts and transmission tunnel…
…the 1UZ almost looks like it should always have been there!
Sakai-san says the engine should develop a little more than the stock 265 HP at 5,400 rpm and 260 lb/ft (36 kgm) at 4,600 rpm now that it’s fitted with an Australian-sourced 8-throttle conversion and velocity stacks.
By far the hardest thing in the build was to fabricate exhaust manifolds that would actually fit in the tight space between the engine and chassis. The manifolds dump gasses onto a custom exhaust system.
The engine is managed by a custom wired Adaptronic ECU, again sourced from Australia. An engine swap almost always requires an equal amount of innovative thinking on he driveline side of things and to transfer the drive to the GS130 7.5 inch F-series differential Sakai-san fitted an NA JZA80 W58 transmission.
Koyo fabricated a custom radiator up for motorFIX, the only way to maximize cooling with the limited space available. The laser etched “Special made for motorFIX” was rather cool!
The front Cusco upper mounts have pretty much been set at max negative camber, something you can kind of gather from the stance of the car.
The great thing about this Corolla is that Sakai-san uses and abuses it on a regular basis at tracks like YZ, which is why its appearance continues to change. The driver’s side of the car has some damage while the passenger side door looks like it was sprayed with a rattle can after begin recently mended.
Functionality reigns supreme in the interior too, and the first thing most will notice is the effort that has gone into prepping the chassis with a 14-point custom roll cage…
…with lots of gusseting and spot welding. Sakai’s big crash up in Ebisu Circuit during the 2010 Spring Drift Matsuri when the roof to his Corolla Wagon caved in has obviously served as a lesson.
A deeply cupped Nardi steering wheel joins other nice additions like…
…he custom extended handbrake.
The stock dash instrumentation has been removed, in its place a carbon fiber panel with a solitary Defi rev counter. That’s all you need really! On the side, the stock water temperature and fuel gauges have been reused.
The roll-cage is there to not only protect in an event of a big crash, but significantly boosts the torsional rigidity of the old chassis.
The extra stiffening extends down onto the floor of the shell and to the suspension turrets.
With fun as a top priority, Sakai-san has really created one of the most unique Corollas in Japan. I think the next trip I make down to motorFIX will have to coincide with one of their outings at YZ circuit because as nice as it is to spend a day looking at a car like this, it will be far more exiting to see it dance sideways through the corners!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare
I just picked up a te72 coupe last week and I'm looking for a really similar look, are these fenders welded on or just pulled to the max?
Anyone know where to find some good performance parts for this generation of Corollas? My buddy has the extended version of this coupe (same as this one, however, has a bigger backseat). I tried the Motorfix website but most of the wording is, of course, in Japanese and Google doesn't translate much of it. Any response would be great.
@Sean klingelhoefer if u find anything let me know, I been searching too but Work computer has restrictions to certain sites haha!
Seanskee Sean It's actually relatively simple, the engine is cheap and the trans is cheap but the adapter and the clutch setup is expensive. Checkout http://lextreme.com/ - you should be able to find just about everything you need to know there. I was very close to doing this build to do a step-by-step article for Project Car Magazine but it wasn't to be. My main problem was finding a car "crappy" enough for my taste.
Love this car, I remember the first time I saw a video of it firing up on YouTube and I instantly began researching the 1U swap. Would love to build one of these someday.
I love how he left behind temp and fuel gauge. There's a bit sense of humor there. Haha.
Interesting to say the least.
I thought there'd be an argument in the comments, just like in that 2JZ Fox...
Wow. Is that not the most basic form of a "muscle car"? Put a big engine into a small body = speed