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1987 Toyota Corolla SR5 - Go Hard

Plenty of practice (plus a Nissan SR20) makes perfect

Jonathan Wong
Feb 26, 2018
Photographer: Dan Coria

For more than 15 years, this little Corolla has played a major role in defining Dino Hilario's automotive life. The one-time SR5 had been equipped with a 4AG motor and the rear end retrofitted from the GT-S model before his dad passed it down to him in '03, just one of many cars from the family collection that's included other TE and AE Corollas, a RA Celica, and a KP Starlet, to name a handful. "You could say my obsession for cars started with my dad's obsession for older Toyotas," Dino says.

1987 toyota corolla JDM kouki rear bumper Photo 2/18   |   1987 Toyota Corolla JDM Kouki Rear Bumper

Since taking ownership, Dino started frequenting autocross events with minimal suspension mods and street tires, eventually upgrading both as his driving improved. Later, he found himself drifting much more than he was grip racing, practicing with his friends at as many events as they could get seat time at. After becoming more comfortable with the car, Dino put some attention toward improving the aesthetics of his Corolla with different wheel setups, aero parts, and a fresh coat of paint. "Once I did that, I fell in love with [the car] all over again," he says. "Even if I crashed or destroyed the aero, I always had it repaired to keep it looking clean."

But a look under the hood quickly reveals this SR5 has transcended beyond the world of what Toyota originally intended for this chassis. After several 4AG replacements, a friend of Dino's convinced him to swap in a turbocharged SR20DET from Nissan's JDM S14 Silvia, which gave him a big power upgrade. "It was a whole new learning curve and took a while to get used to," he explains. "But the SR is a good value for the power it offers and has plenty of aftermarket and OEM support in comparison to seeking out 16V/20V 4AG parts. In a 2,300-pound car, there's plenty of torque, and it's very responsive."

1987 toyota corolla nissan SR20DET swap Photo 6/18   |   While it might be a li'l sacrilegious to throw a Nissan motor in a Toyota, Dino tells us the SR20DET delivers awesome torque, offers exceptional value, and has great aftermarket support.

With a setup like this, the most important thing Dino has learned about drifting is that each setup teaches you something new about how car control works. With the 4AG setup, carrying momentum and weight requires skill and a fearless commitment to go all out because of a lack of power. That doesn't mean he drives an SR20 any differently, however. "You still need to commit fully," he says. "The AE86 teaches you so much about driving and drifting—a lot of guys can jump into an S chassis and do 10 times better in that car than their own. But it doesn't work the same way when Nissan guys jump into an AE86. The 86 proves you need to be in tune with your own car and driving in order to progress."

1987 toyota corolla GP sports chockets front bumper Photo 10/18   |   1987 Toyota Corolla GP Sports Chockets Front Bumper
015 1987 toyota corolla bride zeta III seats Photo 14/18   |   015 1987 Toyota Corolla Bride Zeta III Seats
1987 toyota corolla CBY side skirts Photo 18/18   |   1987 Toyota Corolla CBY Side Skirts
By Jonathan Wong
483 Articles
1987 Toyota Corolla SR5 - Go Hard
Tuning Menu
Owner: Dino Hilario
Location: San Leandro, CA
Occupation: real estate agent
Engine: Nissan SR20DET engine swap; GReddy rocker arm stoppers, oil pan, intake; custom intercooler and piping; 3" V-band exhaust with Invidia muffler and URAS exhaust tip
Drivetrain: OS Giken Hyper clutch, flywheel; custom driveshaft; TRD two-way limited slip differential; short shifter
Engine Management: Hallman manual boost controller; APEX'i SAFC; Bee*R rev limiter
Footwork & Chassis: custom front coilovers with Tokico HTS shocks and Eibach springs/rear Tokico HTS shocks with TRD Japan springs; Cusco adjustable camber plates, front and rear sway bars, front and rear strut bars, rear lateral rod; Battle Version roll center adjusters, front control arms with tension rods; Techno Toy Tuning front knuckles, outer tie rods, rear four-link kit; AE86 manual steering rack; UEO Style inner tie rods
Wheels & Tires: 15x8.5" -9 front, 15x9.5" -25 Work Equip 03 wheels; 195/45R15 front, 205/50R15 rear Toyo T1R tires
Exterior: GP Sports/Chockets front bumper; CBY side skirts; JDM Kouki rear bumper with JBlood valances; GT wing with Juran Racing gurney flap; Runfree front fenders and rear flares; DMAX hood with Battlecraft vents; Origin canards
Interior: Defi Advance CR boost, oil temp, oil pressure, water temp gauges; Speedhut tach and speedometer; Bride Zeta III Type L and Type S seats, FG seat rails; Nardi 350mm deep cone rally steering wheel
Thanks You: my family; The Bubble Crew; SoCalxNorCal Connexion; all my carboys; the Kinda Cool Zenki Club; Battle Craft

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