So, What Was In That Corolla Van?

We’re always impressed by those that strive to do things a little differently and choose the path less travelled.

Sometimes you begin to think that you’ve seen everything that can possibly be done with a car, engine swap or solution, and then something comes along that makes you realize that anything is actually possible. Ingenuity is limitless, and often the most impressive things are just a simple idea away.


That’s exactly what I was thinking when I came across this half-finished KE36 Toyota Corolla wagon during my visit to Haltech in Sydney before WTAC this week.


We don’t often post about incomplete builds, but this project was just begging for a little spotlight. Huge Simmons wheels – a common modification seen in the Australian show car scene – aside, this little Japanese panel van hides one of the most interesting engine swaps I’ve ever seen.


An FJ20DET from a DR30 Nissan Skyline is one of the last engines I would expect to see in a Corolla wagon, let alone one that looks like it’s shaping up to be taken to some serious level of performance. This is Australia after all – big power is a requisite.


The FJ’s wide cylinder head design gives it a bit of a vintage look, even if it’s not that old when you think about it. I’m not sure what the engine’s internal specs are, but it’s safe to say there’ll be a forged bottom end and possibly a bump in capacity. There’s even a shot of nitrous oxide before the Plazmaman throttle body and plenum, there to help the engine along when the big Garrett turbo is still in vacuum.


The intercooler wasn’t in place, but it looks like the piping has all been taken care of. Everything is held together with Plazmaman clamps.

The car is at Haltech getting wired up; a custom-made loom is being used to integrate all the electronics in an ultra-clean fashion.


This has obviously been a ground-up build with the entire shell stripped down, massive tubs fabricated to swallow up the generously sized wheel/tire setup, and a basic safety cage welded in place.


The exterior is finished off in a nice shade of pearl white, and at this point I have to say I can’t wait to see what the finished car will look like. We’ll definitely have to get Matt to shoot this thing when it’s back on the road.

If you’re like me though, you are probably squinting and imagining what it would look like wearing some small-diameter vintage Japanese wheels…

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Small diameter wheels . Fender flares . I love how the engine looks though fills out the engine bay without trying . For an incomplete build its still very interesting to look at


I can't choose my mind if it's better with solid side panels or windows (keeping it hidden +/- sleeper or just show the goods in the back). With both scenarios (and as it seems the builder already had his mind set) i definitely vote for a full detailed feature later on.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I can never understand the Aussie's obsession to fit these huge Simmons wheels on pretty much every car they get their hands on...


Just like Donk's here in the states, it's a fashion statement to them even though the rest of us cringe mightily.
Fat chicks and spandex is another example, hard to fathom for most of us but there it is for everyone to...umm, look away quickly.


I'm from Aus and I can't even help you understand.

Perhaps it's so the wheels don't look so lost on a big Commodore or Falcon? The VS series of commodore actually look OK with them on. But they make anything else look like a four wheel drive. A nice little Toyota van suddenly reminds you of a Suzuki Jimny!

That's also why we need the big power numbers - just to get those massive wheels to start turning!


Hotwheels bruh


"Anything is actually impossible." I'm sure you didn't mean to say that...


$100 says it never gets used for anything other than shows. Such a waste.


This is Australia. That 'Rolla will be frying tyres in no time.


The FJ is legendary .... The best 4 from Nissan? Probably. I think it was their magnum opus. And I own a forged CA.... but I cant fanboy when clearly the specsheet is superior! Nice car. Simmons and Aussies are popular, but it was more of drag or an auto salon thing back in the day.


The body panels look brand new. Maybe it's the painted window sections that are throwing me off?


I'd like to see the panels covered up with smooth steel instead of the window stampings.


Definatly smaller wheels with big flaired guards, and windows filled with sheet steel like a real van


Cool motor setup, but i have a hard time getting past those wheels. I know it's an Aussie thing, but woah.


I'm from OZ and 99% think those wheels are terrible.....the 1% that like them are also the one's that think burnouts are a motorsport..............


Listen here you little bitch burnouts are actually harder to do than win bathurst!


Well the wheels look too big for this short chassis. They might look good on a longer old mercedes vans, but this is too much