Over-Engineered Simplicity: A KE74 Corolla Drift Wagon

When it comes to drift cars, there’s nothing much simpler than an old rear-wheel drive Toyota Corolla powered by a 4A-GE. Takuya-san, however, decided to turn this theory on its head, building one of the most eyebrow-raising Corollas I’ve ever come across.

If you’ve caught any of my previous stories, you’ll probably know that I’m relatively easy to convince when it comes to shooting cars in Japan. Especially when it’s a Toyota, and especially when there’s an opportunity to head out into more rural areas.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-1
Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-53

For those not familiar with the Low Brain Drift Team, they’re a small crew with an enthusiasm for cars, food and general tomfoolery. They also put on a great annual event at Sportsland Yamanashi.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-49

Where am I going with this? Well, Takuya-san – the owner of this crazy Corolla wagon – started Low Brain in 2007, and ever since, the team has been a staple of modern Japanese car culture. As I reveal the details of Takuya-san’s KE74, you’ll start to understand why.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-14

Now, Takuya-san’s Toyota will probably confuse a few of you, as it’s a variation of the Corolla not many of us are familiar with. If you stare long enough though, you start to see parts shared with the more common sedan variant.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-45

From the outside, there’s a lot to look at on this drift-spec wagon. From the RS Watanabe wheels to the Moze over-fenders, there’s not a whole lot you can critique. Continuing the Corolla theme, parts from other variants seem to integrate seamlessly, namely the AE86 Levin front lip and Goodline carbon under panel.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-36
Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-40

Don’t let this Corolla’s kyusha styling and carburettors fool you though – its innards boast plenty of modern developments, most notably the rear S14 multi-link suspension conversion with a ‘Low Brain Original’ pushrod system. The sort of setup that would look right home in an open-wheel race car. Nuts, right?

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-25

When it comes to the remainder of the footwork, Takuya has spared no expense or effort. Largus front coilovers, T3 knuckles and Beatrush bracing keep the front of the wagon planted and agile, usually somewhat of a tricky task as Corolla aficionados would know.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-61
Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-57

Old Corollas aren’t known for their structural rigidity, so Takuya has comprehensively strengthened the wagon with a custom 11-point roll cage that ties into the rear suspension. To keep everyone safe, a pair of OMP seats and Crow 6-point harnesses have been fitted as well.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-28
Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-32

At the heart of the KE74 is Toyota’s venerable 16-valve 4A-GE. Save for Toda 288-degree camshafts, the engine’s internals are relatively standard, but just about everything else has been touched. A set of Mikuni HSR42 motorcycle carburettors and a K-Works headers make for a harmonious auditory experience, both inside and outside the car.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-44

As it sits, the 4A-GE is putting down around 130PS, which does nicely in the sub-tonne Corolla. Acting as the proverbial ‘cherry on top’ to this perfectly balanced setup, an AE86 T50 5-speed gearbox, ORC clutch and Nismo LSD help get power to the ground – or at least keep the rear wheels spinning.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-56
Speedhunters - Alec Pender - KE74 Wagon-68

It was a real pleasure to spend the day shooting with Takuya-san – it definitely added to my desire of wanting to build a Corolla in Japan one day. Until then, expect a few more from me featured here.

Alec Pender
Instagram: noplansco



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I wonder how many people building cars actually know why push and pull rod suspension actually exists. Anyone know? It's hilarious this has become some trend that people ooh and ahh at in 2023.

I'd be willing to be very solid money that most people have no idea what the purpose of this suspension design actually is. It's used in Formula cars and has been copied by about everyone in the street scene now which is pretty funny.

It seems like a lot of people these days pull from motorsport in the street scene without having a fking clue what they are actually doing. Same as giant rear wings now. Almost standard in SEMA builds these days.

Oh...what about triple adjustable shocks. Anyone actually know what those are for? Nope...just throw them on your build because 3-4 way adjustables and pushrod suspension MUST mean it's a serious build right? The guy MUST know what he's doing if he has this.

Probably why we have people like Emelia Hartford instructing us how to drive Willow Springs now. What a joke this whole industry has become lol.

Rich E Wavy Kariuki

Sir, this is a comments section, not therapy!


Why the butt hurt?


Something you might not have realized, is that the KE70 series wagon had a solid rear axle with leafsprings. The wagon never had any spring perches.
Clearly a complete S14 rear subframe takes in more space than a solid axle does. Combine that with the lack of any place to mount springs/coilovers in the car and the setup starts to make a bit more sense.

Pretty sad that people immediately start to assume its done for cloud. Propably some do, but when you see how the rest of this car is build, its a bit shallow to think this is done to get some likes on instagram.


In the 70's my Dad owned several Alfas among which were 2 Alfetta Sedans (1.8 with quad headlamps and 2.0 with rectangular ones). Both these cars were equipped with what Alfa bragged as sophisticated suspension set up giving perpendicular tyre to ground contact. It was called De Dion Suspension, watt linkage. Not Sure how many people including you have seen it. the gearbox was mounted in the rear for 50:50 weight distribution. Back then Corolla came with 3K pushrod engine (1.2?), front disc 4 speed while even the Giulia 1.3 had DOHC, twin carbs (solex / Dell Orto /Webber) 5 speed, all discs. Alfa was ahead of most even the base Mercedes 200.


It's hard to know exactly what you're upset about in this instance (everything?).

Obviously some people do know what hurdles it's designed to overcome because it exists here.

Also people have always pulled from the motorsports scene? It's not a current thing or something that's going to end soon.


damn bro you must know a lot. why don't you teach us?
hell, send Emelia a challenge and race her. if you win she just drops everything. if she wins you off yourself


So good! That front strut bar tho...


Good eye. I didn't notice until you said something that one side isn't bolted down!


Are the low brain drift team in any way associated with low brain drifter from the UK? I always wondered if it was just a conincidental name thing or what


Just a coincidence!


Neat car and well-done photography.
As I recall, the reason for cantilevered (pushrod) suspensions on F1 cars was to make them more aerodymically slippery by moving the coilover shocks out of the air stream.

Lots of racecar features migrate into the street car world, where they gain style points but often at the expense of functionality. Pro Street cars (google it) in the 1980s are a perfect example, as are rat rods over the past decade.

Maybe we should quit ranting and go out in the garage and build something worthy of a Speedhunters car feature. :)