15 years is a long time to invest yourself into a single project.
By way of comparison, how many cars have you or your friends gone through in that same time frame? My number is just four. I like to take my time with a car, although I am fortunate that my life outside of Speedhunters puts me into countless new cars on a regular basis, which satisfies that craving for something fresh.
Gerry Power has an affinity for Toyotas that spans an even longer period of time. When he purchased this car originally, it was his third AE86. Then, it was a red turbocharged Levin having been converted from a white-over-black Trueno at some stage during its life in Japan. The plan was to drive it, but a terminal engine failure early in the car’s life with Gerry put an end to that.
As a matter of fact, what you’re looking at now is the result of what was intended to be a fairly straightforward engine build. Naturally, things escalated.
What’s testament to this car above all else, is that it was pretty much finished almost 10 years ago before Gerry emigrated to Canada for a decade and put the Levin into storage. Having returned permanently to Ireland just before the Covid pandemic, the car was recovered, the last few things which needed to be done were addressed, and it was registered here for the first time.
I won’t go into the fact that Gerry came back from Canada with another two Toyotas, however…
For the longest time, this car was something of a myth within Ireland’s car community. It was known to have existed, but then it vanished when Gerry relocated. Nobody really knew what had happened to it, or it even existed for the last 10 years. That was until it was pulled out briefly for the 2019 Juicebox BBQ.
Despite technically being built a decade ago, this could well be peak Corolla, even in 2021.
Starting on the outside, the two-door ‘Zenki’ Levin wears a full Origin Labo kit with Crystal Body Yokohama arches, an Origin vented carbon bonnet and Seibon carbon doors. The carbon lip spoiler is a Vertex item.
When I asked Gerry what his favorite part on the car that others might overlook, he without hesitation pointed towards the Shitsua carbon fuel flap. Apologies to those of you still on a swear word filter.
15-inch Work Equip 01s wrapped with 225/50R15 Yokohama Advan A052s frame 6-piston GReddy brakes and are fastened to the hubs with TRD lug nuts. As you might expect, the brake lines are stainless steel braided, and Gerry’s brake pad of choice are Endless CCAs.
Just as a brief aside, the Levin has already been used on the circuit since being completed, and Gerry’s aim is to put a lot more track days beneath its tyres for the foreseeable future.
From a body control perspective, the car is equipped with GReddy Type R coilovers, TRD anti-roll bars, Ueo Style track control arms and inner/outer tie-rods, Cusco tension rods, Megan Racing 4-link rods and Nagisa Auto shakkitto plates, panhard rod and panhard tower brace.
The seam-welded shell benefits from a Ueo Style 4-point strut bar, bomber bar and front fender braces along with a Nagisa Auto 3-point front strut brace.
There’s also the addition of a fully lagged 7-point Cusco roll cage, which neatly brings us to the cabin.
The matching red Bride interior was sourced from the former Bride D1 Grand Prix car (the story of that particular car’s resurrection is worthy of its own story) and is comprised of a pair of Bride Brix recliners with matching red rear seats, door inserts, and even the glovebox cover having been trimmed by Bride themselves. There’s also a 5-piece Bride mat set, along with a Cusco shift knob and a Nardi suede wheel with red stitching.
A plethora of gauges adorn the interior as well; TRD items for oil temperature, water temperature, oil pressure, boost and an 80mm rev counter all set within an FRP Mekaru pod. Within the glovebox resides an A’PEXi AVC-R boost controller, rev speed limiter and an Omori exhaust temperature gauge.
The real party piece of the equation is what lurks beneath the carbon bonnet – a built turbo 4A-GE.
An AE101 4A-GZE block was outfitted with Pauter X-beam rods with JE forged pistons before being paired with a ported ‘big port’ cylinder head equipped with HKS 272-degree cams, valve springs, cam pulleys and timing belt. Fuelling comes via RC 550cc injectors, a Sard fuel pressure regulator and Earl’s braided fuel lines.
Attached to a Zircotec-coated Trust exhaust manifold is a Trust TD05-18G turbocharger with a Trust 35mm wastegate. Trust also supplied the blow-off valve, air filter, intercooler hard piping, coolant hard piping, GREX 13-row oil cooler, oil catch can and a relocated windscreen washer bottle. Water cooling is cared for with a Koyo twin-core radiator.
Waste gases are flowed out the back of the car through a Trust Drag Spec back box stamped by the Drag Racing Association of Japan, which perhaps hints back to the car’s life in Japan before it was exported.
The whole engine setup is controlled by an Omex 600 ECU.
The W58 gearbox is fitted with a C’s quick shifter while the rest of the driveline highlights include a TRD LSD with a cryogenically-treated 3.9:1 final drive and Weir Performance heavy duty half-shafts.
I’ve had the pleasure of photographing a lot of good Corollas over the years, and this ranks up there with the very best of them. It’s not just that it’s an exceptionally clean and well executed build, but the fact that it has been built to be used as well is just the icing on the cake.
It’s not really a surprise that having waited 15 years to drive the car, that’s exactly what Gerry intends to do with it. If he’s rebuilt it once, he can always do it again. Although maybe it might not take so long the next time around…