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2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

Turbo Toyota Yaris Is a Real-Life Hot Wheels Race Car

Benjamin Hunting
Oct 16, 2019
Photographer: Chris Anderson

There's nothing new about "stunt builds," the kind of one-off projects put together by shops and tuners eager to shock via unusual platform choices or out-there design decisions. Transcending that kind of made-you-look attitude and tackling a build that's well outside the mainstream due to a deep passion for the vehicle in question, however, is something else entirely.

2007 Toyota Yaris Widebody Conversion Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

When this particular '07 Toyota Yaris showed up at Nth Moto's Minneapolis, Minnesota, shop, it wasn't just a new frontier for the talented team that's more used to working on 2,000hp Dodge Vipers than entry-level compact hatchbacks. It was also a challenge to satisfy the demands of a customer who was dead serious about reaching the limits of what his beloved but humble commuter had to offer.

"This car is not a joke," explains Nth Moto's Aaron Miller. "It's well beyond attention getting. It is one of the most technically challenging projects I've ever been a part of. The idea of approaching the Yaris project as a real, usable vehicle, but with a show-car mentality and race tech baked in was something we couldn't say no to."

2007 Toyota Yaris Engine Bay Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

Nth Moto was tapped for the build after the owner, who resides in Bahrain, crossed paths with the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R following its unveiling at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show. A big-time car collector who already owned a fleet of rare 'Yotes and Lexuses, the owner decided to finance a monster Yaris of his own, and he was referred to the Midwest modifiers by a mutual friend from the Viper world who knew of the shop's propensity for outside-the-box builds.

2007 Toyota Yaris Front Splitter Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

If you're thinking aftermarket support for a vehicle like the Toyota Yaris is somewhat lacking, you would be correct. It was a battle Nth Moto had to fight right from the very beginning—especially given the fact that the owner wanted to stick with the original drivetrain as much as possible.

2007 Toyota Yaris Bosch 044 Fuel Pumps Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

"The engine wasn't easy, but we came up with a good plan and had good components made for it," Aaron says, referring to the car's 22R-FE four-cylinder engine. "The trick was the transmission. The car rolled off the trailer, and I saw it had an automatic—something I had never even thought to ask about during the prep stage, because I had assumed that, like 90 percent of sport compact cars, it would have a manual transmission."

2007 Toyota Yaris Forgeline Wheels Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

With the Yaris' self-shifter set in stone—"The owner doesn't like using a clutch, and it had to be an OEM automatic" was the explanation—Aaron and his crew were on the hunt for a Toyota autobox that could handle the 400-plus horses planned for the four-cylinder. They eventually landed on an older transmission that featured a massive overdrive unit and had to rework the car's lower framerail so that its nearly double-size dimensions would fit. It also took a serious level of custom fabrication and tuning to adapt the new gearbox to the project itself.

2007 Toyota Yaris Forgeline Wheel Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

"Automatic transmission control is a really interesting thing that so many OEMs do differently," Aaron says. "This particular one is unique in that it doesn't have an accumulator spring layout and does crazy frequency control over the solenoids, and we had to monitor that in normal operation and figure out how to duplicate it electronically so we could control it properly."

2007 Toyota Yaris Rear Custom Rear Diffuser Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

Stepping up the Yaris' 22R-FE from its 130 stock horsepower to the desired 400 was accomplished via a Garrett GTX30R turbo, customer-forged pistons and rods, a bespoke head stud and cylinder sleeve support system, and a ported cylinder head that maintains the motor's original VVT cams with upgraded springs and retainers. The entire exhaust system was fabricated in-house, as was the front-mount intercooler, and a custom wiring harness links an AEM Infinity standalone brain to oversee everything.

2007 Toyota Yaris Custom Wrapped Seats Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

Putting that power to the ground was no less of a challenge. To help ensure the Toyota's front end didn't explode on the first throttle application, the Yaris features Driveshaft Shop custom axles with increased spline sizes, as well as a transmission cooler and an SFI-certified flexplate assembly on the high-stall torque converter.

2007 Toyota Yaris Duckbill Rear Wing Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

"It's highly entertaining to drive," Aaron says. "At full blast, it's raucous, and it's got a lot of tire because we modified the chassis to get as much rubber under there as possible. It's not scary from a control perspective, but more a delightful form of frightening. The brakes are impressive, too—maybe even more so than the acceleration. The car is just constantly giving you the impression, 'There's no way I should be able to do this in a Yaris. '"

2007 Toyota Yaris Centerlock Lug Converted Wheel Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

In the end, it's mission accomplished for Nth Moto and the Toyota's owner. Absolutely everything about the car matches the original plan in terms of performance, driveability, and rule-busting style.

"The sound is unique because it's a full equal-length stainless 4-to-1 header we made, and the owner was adamant that he wanted to hear the turbo a lot and enjoy the sound of the car, so the Garrett we chose just screams, at even low boost. On top of the epic blue color and the fishbowl glass revealing the pink interior, it really adds to the spectacle of driving it," Aaron says, a smile apparent in his voice.

2007 Toyota Yaris Wilwood Brakes Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke

"If you're a car guy and you hear it, you know it's serious, and you're like, 'That's not what was I was expecting at all.' And that's the entire point of this build. We took all the elements and practices that we apply to our exotic projects and put them to work here on this Yaris, and the end result is gross excess in every dimension. This is a wickedly violent and very quick car."

2007 Toyota Yaris Custom Interior Photo 19/19   |   2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke
By Benjamin Hunting
27 Articles
2007 Toyota Yaris - Ain't No Joke
Tuning Menu
Builder: Nth Moto
Hometown: Minnesota, MN
Occupation: Exotic Car Performance and Fabrication
Instagram: @nthmoto
Engine: Forged pistons; 4340 steel H-beam rods; custom cylinder sleeve support and head stud systems; ported cylinder head with OEM VVT cams and upgraded springs and retainers; Nth Moto billet intake manifold with large DBW throttle body, sidewinder equal-length stainless steel tubular header, front-mount intercooler, 3-inch stainless steel exhaust with center-exit oval tip; Garrett GTX30R turbocharger; Inconel metal blanket heat control system; swirl pot fuel system visible through acrylic trunk panel with dual Bosch 044 pumps; Injector Dynamics ID1000 injectors; Fore Innovations fuel pressure regulator; lightweight braided nylon hose assemblies and AN fittings throughout
Drivetrain Built Toyota overdrive front-wheel-drive automatic with upgraded clutch packs and strengthened drums; Nth Moto one-off billet-aluminum transmission adapter plate to mount, clock, and adapt an earlier overdrive Toyota automatic; custom flexplate assembly with built torque converter for higher stall and less slip with increased power, transmission cooler setup with dual SPAL fans and ducting; Driveshaft Shop axles with broached outer hubs for increase spline sizes
Engine Management: Nth Moto custom harness for AEM Infinity standalone to integrate into Yaris chassis; AEM Carbon CD-7 digital dash
Footwork & Chassis: Cusco coilovers with custom spring rates finished to match interior colors; custom bushings all around, front cradle system reinforced with tubular lower link bar, upper and lower strut tower bars
Brakes: Nth Moto four wheel brake setup including 12-inch Wilwood front rotors and calipers
Wheels & Tires: Center lug wheel conversion; 18x8 Forgeline wheels; 255/35R18 Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 tires
Exterior: Handmade widebody molded into the OEM body with 8-inch-wider stance; mix of BMW Yas Marina blue paint with heavy silver/white base; Dodge Viper fuel door; carbon-fiber front splitter, hood, roof, rear duckbill wing; Nissan 370Z carbon mirrors grafted on; custom rear diffuser to mimic Ferrari F430, headlight housings with Lexus HIDs and color-shifting LEDs, smoked taillights
Interior: Custom leather and Alcantara-wrapped seats, dash, headliner, door panels; lighting in cupholders and fuel system viewing area; reupholstered Sparco 320G carbon-fiber steering wheel; Polk Audio speakers and head unitv

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