Rockstar D: Fredric Aasbø’s Corolla iM Revealed
The Corolla iM

It felt like it was just yesterday when we were finishing up the 2016 Formula Drift season at Irwindale. But just like that, the FD off season has come to an end and the first round of 2017 is about to begin.

Right this moment, teams are putting the final touches to their cars, and us media-heads are preparing our battle-worn camera gear for another season of smoke.

So what have Stephan and the boys at Papadakis Racing been up to these past few months? Building something new for Fredric Aasbø…


For the past six years, Fredric has campaigned a rear-wheel drive-converted Scion tC in the Formula Drift series. It was a car that took him from the bottom to the top of the podium, aiding him in his first of multiple event wins and eventually taking him to the 2015 Formula Drift Pro Championship title. But with the Scion brand no more, and its operations now fully transitioned to parent company Toyota, Papadakis Racing decided to build an all-new FD Pro machine for 2017.

Say hello to the Rockstar Energy Drink/Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla iM.


Of course, we’ve been following the creation of this car right throughout the FD off season, so let’s dive into the build…


Papadakis Racing is the most successful team in Formula Drift and well known for building unconventional vehicles, so it really comes as no surprise that they were able to add another one to the list, this time with a new-gen Corolla.


They started by stripping the iM right down to its bare shell; a huge amount of custom fabrication was required to turn the sensible front-wheel drive hatchback into a crazy rear-wheel drive drift machine.


A lot of time was also spent ensuring that every facet of the car complied with Formula Drift’s rule book.


In the engine bay, Papadakis Racing is sticking with what it knows and will once again be running a Toyota 2AR-based engine. In its highly developed and turbocharged guise, this one’s making roughly 1000hp and 850lb-ft of torque with nitrous oxide.


Boost comes from a massive BorgWarner EFR 9174 twin-scroll turbocharger with dual TiAL MV-S wastegates venting straight out through the hood…


And the 2.7-liter four-cylinder gets its orders from an AEM Electronics Infinity-8 engine management system.


Finally, all the power and torque produced is fed through a G-Force GSR 4-speed dog box transmission and out to the back wheels.


Papadakis Racing and Dzine Unlimited created a custom bodykit to extend the fenders outwards and accommodate wide Motegi Racing Technomesh D wheels wrapped in Nexen N’fera SUR4 tires. Function aside, we’re sure you’ll agree that it looks pretty tough too.


Custom-built RS-R coilovers feature in the suspension department, while large Alcon brakes front and rear will have no problem pulling the iM up from speed.


Inside, and as expected for a pro-spec competition car, all creature comforts have been removed. There’s a custom Papadakis Racing roll-cage, Takata Racing seats and harnesses, Sparco accessories, and one of AEM Electronics’ new CD-7 digital dash displays with data-logging capabilities.


As you would have already figured out through the driving images, Larry was on-hand at the shoot for the Rockstar D clip at the beginning of this post.


While capturing video was the main objective of the day, it was also a good opportunity for Fredric to get some extra seat time in the new car, and for Stephan and the Papadakis Racing team to fine tune some aspects of the setup.


As you’d have seen but might not have noticed, the video was based on the famous Initial D opening scene.


And when I say ‘based’, I actually mean a shot-by-shot re-enactment of it.


It was a fun way to pay tribute to the history of the famous anime series that many of us grew up watching.


How do you guys think ‘The Norwegian Hammer’ will perform this year with the all-new build?


It’s a question we must always ask when a Formula Drift driver – even one of the best in the business – comes out with a new car, and we now only have to wait a few more days for Formula Drift Long Beach to find out the answer.

Louis Yio
Instagram: lusciousy

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto

Cutting Room Floor


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its an uncommon type of drift car and not the mainstream drift car type out there, much wow


Put some tofu in the trunk and I'm sure he'll do just fine. I just wish the new corolla was actually RWD..


or, y'know, AWD, like some other hot hatches out there...


Auris do have AWD, but it only came with 1.5L NA engine.


Toyota Blade in the Japan had 3.5V6 and 4WD option


Blade is based on previous generation Auris though, and also weights like a beast, 1460kg for the 2.4L AWD & 1480kg for the 3.5L V6 ... also do note the AWD model only appear on 2.4L version, not the V6 one.


Do the FD rules stipulate the use of a production shell/chassis as opposed to a bespoke tubeframe?
The use of the Corolla is curious from a marketing standpoint. Is Toyota pitching the car as a hot hatch?
Lastly, did the shell from Toyota borrow from the new WRC chassis, or is this entirely the work of Papadakis Racing?


No tube frames allowed in most (if not all) major series'. Toyota's WRC chassis is the smaller Yaris, the Corolla iM / Auris is 0.8-inches longer in wheelbase than a GT86. It's going to be a fascinating watch.


Did they use a shell from an all wheel drive variant? Or was this a FWD shell? I know the E180 Auris is available in other markets with AWD.


It's a 4WD shell (or at least it should be).


This was going to be my question - I presumed they must offer it in AWD for it to be eligible for FD rules.


Production car with steel unibody/frame is all the rules say. There's no mention of driven wheels. So it can be FWD chassis


I've just checked this year's technical rules and you're right Vit.

I'm sure in the past there used to be a rule under the Vehicle Eligibility section of the rulebook that said the original chassis must be RWD or AWD. I.e no FWD to RWD conversions.

In fact, if you check the FD Wiki page it refers to this rule, and the protests against the Scion tC when it was first entered as it was a FWD-only chassis in the US (although available in AWD in Europe). I'm guessing the rule changed this year.


Pretty sure it's safe to say that no one outside of those involved saw this one coming. Like most, I was expecting a 2AR GT86!


Toyota should put that into production!

Christian Clark

I expected a Lexus-based car actually.


Honestly I was hoping for an RC-F with a 2JZ.


I had heard that, but it didn't make sense as he's a Toyota backed driver. (I know Toyota & Lexus are related, but they're still entirely different markets and budgets)

David Hasan-lichtenstein

This thing is rad. FD is gonna be awesome this year, all the driver teams, Deane and Wiecek, and the less traditional event winners are catching up to the pros.


Absolutely love the fact Papadakis Racing use something totally unique!
I was expecting 86 chassis for 2017 season but nope, here come the Corolla iM!

Hopefully it will be as good as the retired tC!


...And yet still for some unknown reason no one in FD can keep their front tyres inside the guards? Why even bother with flares if they don't cover it anyway.

It's a cool build don't get me wrong, just looks stupid.


Exactly what I was thinking. I get the need for steering angle, but if you are building a custom widebody, make it wide enough to cover the front wheels. This shouldn't impact steering ange.

Andreas Hveding Housecity

Because steering angle and attitude I guess...


Man I cant wait until this and the radbul are put up against each other


Wow..something new! Thumbs up for being brave and challenging main stream. Will be watching it closely. Best of luck in new season from Latvia.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I'm not really into seeing cars without a tail going sideways, but this is interesting...


Tanner with Passat, now Frefric with iM. It's just awesome!


How long is the wheelbase compared to the TC or the GT86?

Also, I wonder how that engine is going to do this year. He had some problems last season , going through 2 engines at FDATL.


If u read paddys comment above he states that's answer (.08 inches longer wheelbase)


just saw this on Speed Academy..rad build


One thing I don't understand from a marketing standpoint is how this helps the sales of a car. Clearly this isn't a corolla anymore. It's been converted to RWD so it can compete. Toyota isn't expecting people to be like "Oh wow now I want a corolla!" are they? If they want to grab more of the sports car market why not actually make more sports cars?


It's more to help the Toyota brand in general. People will see that it's a Toyota and that's the pretty much the point. That's how it works in NASCAR as well. It's not like Toyota sells an 800hp RWD Camry for consumers. But us fans of the sport will see the Toyota and Camry logo and that's pretty much the point of the sponsorship. We might be on the hunt for a car one day and Toyota might come into mind before another brand does and we might just lean towards the Camry. Same with NHRA becauseToyota isn't the one that makes the 10000hp engine but their logos are all over the car and it gets their name out there to a bigger audience as well. This applies to every sponsorship in the history of sponsorships.

Joseph McKinney

I'm already in love.


Car is awesome, the video though....


is this engine quick release?


Would imagine that, despite the massive widening all round, a short wheelbase like this with 1000bhp might be tricky enough to control. Beast of a little car!


GRC back up plan


So, like the tC, I wish I had one of these in RWD. Thanks again Fredric, you magnificent Norwegian lovehammer.


Pretty half assed in depth article on the car.Such an interesting car, in yet you barely scratch the surface of its details. Care to tell us how they made this FD legal? What about point out the dual rear calipers? Cmon Speedhunters used to really have some IN DEPTH articles, now they're just like your boring super street magazine articles. Especially Larry's FD recap articles,they're just pictures with boring captions now...


Has anyone noticed that TRD looks like turd? I giggle every time I see that on a Toyota pickup.