My name is Mathias Johansson; I live in Sweden and work at Toyota Center Gothenburg. This AE92 Toyota Corolla GTi has been a big part of my life for over a decade and a half.
I bought the GTi from an old lady back in 2004; it was in really good condition with just 65,000km on the clock. At first I just used the Corolla as a regular, everyday car, but in this standard form I also took it to Mantorp Park for a circuit event called Japmeet.
The following year I changed the exhaust, suspension, brakes, wheels and tires, seats, and belts. A little while later I purchased and fitted a 4A-GE 20-valve ‘Blacktop’ engine with matching 6-speed gearbox from an AE111 series car, which turned out to be a really good upgrade for track days.
2008 was the turning point. I had a planned to modify the firewall in order to mount a bigger air intake for the engine’s quad throttle bodies, and also needed to take care of some rust repairs – a common problem with any Japanese car from the ’80s.
Well, the Corolla ended up being completely taken apart, which then led me to think that a rear-wheel drive AE92 GTi would be a lot more fun than a stock front-wheel drive one.
If I was going to do this, the car still needed to be road legal, so I contacted a organization we have here in Sweden called SFRO (Sveriges Fordonsbyggares Riksorganisation). This is an agency that oversees all stages of an extensive custom or scratch-built car build through regular inspections, allowing it to be put back on the road legally with a brand new registration at the end of the process. This is why my Corolla is now recorded as a 2017 model, not an ’89.
After consulting with the SFRO, a plan involving a new tube-frame chassis and a bigger-than-original engine running in a rear-wheel drive configuration was made.
At first, I had my mind set on a Toyota 3S-GTE Gen 4 engine, but when a damaged JZA80 Toyota Supra twin turbo came up, I jumped at the opportunity to 2JZ-swap my Corolla.
Following on from a lot of planning, in December 2009 I sat the car on a special bench I had made, and took to it with a grinder. When I was finished, only the roof and doorways were left. Now the real fun (and work) could begin.
As I was doing nearly all of the work myself and learning along the way, tube-framing my Corolla wasn’t a fast process. In May 2013, the car was finally sitting back on the ground with its new engine and driveline combination in place. An SFRO inspection then took place, at which time a brand new frame number was issued.
The main bodywork and interior fit-out followed, and in September 2017 the car was ready for its last inspection. After many years, my GTi was back on the road, but now with rear-wheel drive and a single-turbo six cylinder making 400hp.
Building a car that no-one else has was a big challenge for me – one that took eight years and 6,500 hours all told – but doing so with the goal of having it street legal was even bigger. The only work I didn’t do was the paint, and I also needed some help with the electrical wiring. You can check out the full spec below.
I built this car for track days, car shows and everyday use, but I don’t think it will ever be done. There are still a lot of plans for it; next up is to make molds so I can redo all of the body panels in fiberglass or carbon fiber.
Another build will happen one day too, and it will likely be a pick-up, either from Japan or USA, with a big engine. Time will tell… For now, I’m just happy to be able to enjoy my one-of-a-kind Corolla GTi.
Photos by Alen Haseta
How To join the IATS program: We have always welcomed readers to contact us with examples of their work and believe that the best Speedhunter is always the person closest to the culture itself, right there on the street or local parking lot. If you think you have what it takes and would like to share your work with us then you should apply to become part of the IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER program. Read how to get involved here.
Mathias Johansson’s ‘GT92 Turbo-17′
Toyota 3.0L 2JZ-GTE, single turbo conversion, aluminum intercooler, Forge 44mm wastegate, Forge blow-off valve, 3-inch stainless exhaust, AEM 320lph in-tank fuel pump, Nuke Performance fuel filter, PTFE steel braided fuel hoses, K&N air filter, DO88 silicone hoses
Getrag V161 6-speed gearbox, shortened JZA80 Supra propeller shaft, JZA80 Toyota Supra front & rear axles, Torsen LSD
D2 coilovers, D2 8-piston/380mm front brakes, D2 4-piston/356mm rear brakes, Wilwood proportioning valve, steel braided brake hoses
Advanti Vertex Black 19×8.5-inch front, 19×9.5-inch rear, Dunlop 235/35R19 front, Dunlop 275/30R19 rear
Custom tube-frame chassis with roll cage and modified 1989 Corolla GTi body, relocated firewall, custom fiberglass wide-body kit, custom fiberglass, hood with air intake, Sparco fuel cap, custom rear wheelhouse, riveted & glued aluminum floor panels inside, Toyota Red 3E5 paint
Custom fiberglass dashboard with integrated TRD combination meter from Toyota Supra, AEM wide-band O2 AFR sensor gauge, Autometer Sport-Comp pyrometer, oil temp & boost gauges, custom floor/side panels covered with black Alcantara, modified & rebuilt headlining, Sparco Sprint racing seats, Sparco suede steering wheel, Sparco harness belts