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 |   |  AE70 Toyota Corolla Sedan w/ Air Lift Suspension & SSR Longchamp Wheels Has The Smoothest Shaved Engine Bay In Japan
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AE70 Toyota Corolla Sedan w/ Air Lift Suspension & SSR Longchamp Wheels Has The Smoothest Shaved Engine Bay In Japan

Air bags, shaved engine bay and bursting with originality, the “Inazuma Worx” AE70 Corolla is what happens when good vibes meet an unrelenting passion for detail

Micah Wright
Mar 2, 2020
Photographer: David Ishikawa

More classic '80s-era Corolla magic:
1986 turbo Corolla SR5 coupe
1983 4A-GE-powered Corolla wagon

Sleep-deprived, yet giddy with excitement, day one of Super Street's southern Japan blitz last October had us on the hunt for an '80s-era, AE70 Toyota Corolla. Assembled at the hands of whom many consider to be a godfather in the art of engine bay shaving, we ventured beyond the concrete confines of Osaka and deep into the mountains of Wakayama Prefecture.

Masataka Ikeda of Inazuma Worx

Master craftsman Masataka Ikeda resides in a tiny village called Inami, where he crafts custom Corollas by hand. A quick Google search revealed very little on the Toyota specialist or his brand "Inazuma Worx", and the average result of Inami highlights the town's title as the sour plum capital of Japan. Umeboshi plums may be delicious, but we were after something far more mouthwatering. We're referring to the Corolla sedan, or AE70, for all the chassis code aficionados out there. The car was once considered a commonplace commuter car, Ikeda-san likes to refer to as "a perfect fit for Japanese people" - highly undesirable to some, but for Ikeda-san, he's set out to make it one of the most remarkable Corolla builds in history.

Despite having almost two decades of aftermarket experience, airbags and shaved engine bays are a relatively recent endeavor for the Inami-town native. Since his tiny hometown of 8,000 people offers little more than sour plums and scenic mountain passes, drifting had long served as a means of slaking Ikeda-san's thirst for automotive expression and thrills.

While tuning and drifting tofu-delivery missiles was undoubtedly entertaining, it was seeing a shaved version of the AE86 in person that made Ikeda-san's shift to engine bay work an obsession. Master builder Kousuke Mori had just premiered his immaculate AE86 at a major Japanese event, and even though Ikeda-san was just another face in the crowd at the time, this car's impact on the Toyota enthusiast was inexplicable.

1982 Toyota Corolla Front Bumper 01 Photo 23/23   |   AE70 Toyota Corolla Sedan w/ Air Lift Suspension & SSR Longchamp Wheels Has The Smoothest Shaved Engine Bay In Japan

Destined for the AE70

Shifting to body work, fabrication, and paint, while focusing on aesthetics and OEM minimalism is what makes this particular build of his shine so bright. When asked why he chose this particular chassis, Ikeda-san laughed and said that it's because the two of them were destined for one another, as they were both born in the same year. He also tells us that finding a clean AE70 chassis was a real nightmare, as most of these Corolla sedans had either been exported or demolished decades ago.

Five years, five donor cars, and one somewhat acceptable build platform later, and Ikeda-san was finally ready to kick off a year-long build process. In award-winning fashion, he left no bolt untouched, with custom fabrication and one-off parts playing lead roles in this AE70's transformation. Ikeda-san tackled every inch of this chassis with creativity and good vibes.

1982 Toyota Corolla Solex Carbs Photo 23/23   |   AE70 Toyota Corolla Sedan w/ Air Lift Suspension & SSR Longchamp Wheels Has The Smoothest Shaved Engine Bay In Japan

Powered by 4A-GE

When he wasn't hacking-up donor cars or modding his Corolla's rear end, Ikeda-san was under the hood, perfecting the engine bay. While the inside of the 4A-GE engine relies heavily upon performance-enhancing products from Toda Racing, external upgrades are a bit more varied. Here, items like TRD spark plug wires, a Solex carburetor with 44mm horns, Greddy radiator, and a K's Works custom exhaust manifold add performance to other areas of the engine. Being that it is carbureted, Ikeda-san's Corolla relies upon an MSD 6A digital ignition control box to pluck the engine's proverbial heart strings.

Ikeda-san's line of Inazuma Worx products add further "good vibes" to the former daily commuter. These include a one-off radiator overflow tank and cap, a heat shield for the spark plug wires, various fluid lines, and every centimeter of exhaust piping from the header back.

T50 Drivetrain

As for the vehicle's manual gearbox and everything affixed to it, a T50 trans with a TRD single clutch and a two-way limited-slip differential tackle gears and grip, while a modified AE86 clutch master cylinder pumps fluid from a Yamaha YZF reservoir.

Custom Air Suspension and Rear-End

Suspension on this car is a bit more complex, with one-off Inazuma Worx coilovers and an Air Lift 3P bag setup being the stars of the show. Take a peek under the rear and you'll see a tricked-out double wishbone rear suspension conversion, along with one-off, fully adjustable control arms. Up front, the AE70 relies upon Inazuma Worx AE86 control arms in order to make dropping and driving a breeze.

Stopping Power

Front brakes on this little Corolla are a concoction of Wilwood 4-pot calipers and Stoptech rotors, which clear the wheels thanks to Techno Toy Tuning adapter plates. An R32 Skyline rear brake conversion handles Dixel rotors and pads. This is all powered by a Nissan Silvia S15 master cylinder, which pumps brake juice out of yet another modified Yamaha YZF reservoir, and down Inazuma Worx custom brake lines.

1982 Toyota Corolla Front License Plate Photo 23/23   |   AE70 Toyota Corolla Sedan w/ Air Lift Suspension & SSR Longchamp Wheels Has The Smoothest Shaved Engine Bay In Japan

Iconic SSR Wheels

Just in front of all of this upgraded stopping power are 14-inch SSR Longchamp XR4 wheels in a squared 9-inch layout. With a front offset of -15, and a rear of -27, Ikeda-san's sedan stretches its 195/45R14 Toyo Proxes T1R tires to the point where they can be neatly tucked beneath all four fenders once dropped.

OEM Exterior

Meanwhile, OEM is the name of the game for the rest of this car's exterior, with the bumper pole, rain visors, and license plate surround all being factory Toyota options.

1982 Toyota Corolla Nardi Classic Steering Wheel Photo 23/23   |   AE70 Toyota Corolla Sedan w/ Air Lift Suspension & SSR Longchamp Wheels Has The Smoothest Shaved Engine Bay In Japan

OEM+ Interior with Custom Upholstery

This original equipment approach trickles inside, with the sedan's minty-fresh dash being the only part accented with aftermarket upgrades. These include a Nardi Classic steering wheel, various gauges, a Carrozeria head unit with iPad connectivity, Airlift controller, and a wide-angle mirror residing above it all. The rest of the fully refurbished cabin features completely reupholstered leather seats and door panels, all of which Ikeda-san did himself.

The Hardest Parts

Walkaround tour complete, I turn to Ikeda-san and ask what the toughest part of this build was for him. He grimaces and admits that while modding the rear subframe was easily the most labor-intensive area and getting the car's inner fender tubs shaved properly was a pain, it was small shit that drove him up the wall.

For instance, the typical Toyota Corolla floor mat tends to get tossed every few years, so when they aren't in production for a couple of decades, sourcing a somewhat clean set is damn near impossible. The same goes for the generation-correct bumper pole, which proved extremely challenging to locate.

1982 Toyota Corolla Rear Bumper Photo 23/23   |   AE70 Toyota Corolla Sedan w/ Air Lift Suspension & SSR Longchamp Wheels Has The Smoothest Shaved Engine Bay In Japan

Best of Show

In the end, positivity and determination prevailed, and Ikeda-san was able to debut his 1982 Toyota Corolla Sedan at Wekfest Japan last year, where it won "Best of Show" and "Car of the Festival" awards. What was once considered a boxy and bland salary man's machine, has become a real treat, especially since meticulously shaved bays are still somewhat of an anomaly in Japan. Altogether, this self-effacing showstopper features all sorts of good vibes, so get used to this feeling, because it isn't the only Inazuma Worx build we'll be featuring.

1982 Toyota Corolla Masataka Ikeda 01 Photo 23/23   |   AE70 Toyota Corolla Sedan w/ Air Lift Suspension & SSR Longchamp Wheels Has The Smoothest Shaved Engine Bay In Japan
1982 Toyota Corolla Wheel Camber Photo 23/23   |   AE70 Toyota Corolla Sedan w/ Air Lift Suspension & SSR Longchamp Wheels Has The Smoothest Shaved Engine Bay In Japan
By Micah Wright
72 Articles
AE70 Toyota Corolla Sedan w/ Air Lift Suspension & SSR Longchamp Wheels Has The Smoothest Shaved Engine Bay In Japan
Tuning Menu
Owner: Masataka Ikeda
Hometown: Wakayama, Japan
Occupation: Owner at Inazuma Worx
Instagram: @1ke_d
Engine: 4A-GE; Toda Racing 82mm high compression pistons, camshaft, valve springs, adjustable cam pulley; NGK spark plugs; TRD 0.8mm metal head gasket and oil cap; GReddy radiator and cap; Solex 44mm carburetor; K's Works one-off exhaust manifold; Inazuma Worx wiring harness, radiator overflow canister, fluid reservoirs, exhaust piping, heat shield, fluid lines; polished OEM valve cover; relocated battery; shaved and tucked engine bay
Drivetrain: T50 five-speed manual gearbox; TRD single clutch, two-way limited-slip differential; modified AE86 clutch master cylinder; Yamaha YZF clutch master cylinder reservoir
Engine Management: MSD digital 6A ignition control box
Footwork & Chassis: Air Lift 3P air management system; Inazuma Worx coilovers, double wishbone rear suspension conversion, adjustable rear control arms; AE86 front control arms
Brakes: Wilwood four-piston front calipers with StopTech rotors; Techno Toy Tuning adapter plates; R32 Skyline rear brake conversion with Dixel rotors and pads; modified Nissan S15 Silvia brake master cylinder; Yamaha YZF brake master cylinder reservoir; Inazuma Worx brake lines
Wheels & Tires: 14x9" -15 front, 14x9" -27 rear SSR Longchamp XR4 wheels;195/45R14 Toyo Proxes T1R tires; Juran Racing extended wheel studs; NUT-YA forged lug nuts
Exterior: OEM optional bumper pole, rain visors, license plate surround
Interior: OEM seats reupholstered in black leather; Nardi Classic steering wheel; AEM air/fuel gauge; Carrozeria head unit; iPad display; wide angle mirror; OEM floor mats
Thanks: OSK Kyoto; J-wheels; Bozu Garage

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