If buying a bigger turbo instead of paying the phone bill sounds familiar, you know a bit about tuning ’til you’re broke. If you’ve bid on an über-rare JDM part on eBay when the rent was due, you’re experienced at tuning ’til you’re broke. And if your girlfriend has dumped you or your family has planned an intervention related to your car obsession, chances are you’re an expert at tuning ’til you’re broke-ass-broke.
Allan Dodds from Kamloops, British Columbia, certainly has the kind of passion required to tune on the edge of bankruptcy, as does the aptly named Tune ’Til Broke car club he belongs to. And if there’s one project that is specifically designed to test your conviction and your bankroll, it’s got to be restoring and modifying a rusted-out AE86 Toyota Corolla coupe.
Not that an engineless rust-bucket Corolla from the ’80s is the most expensive car in the world, but given how many balls-out builds there are of this chassis, to do something worthy of a little Internet fame or even an appearance in this world-class tuner mag, you’ve got to man up in a big way. And that’s exactly what Allan and his crew have done, starting with defying his extremely pregnant wife by buying this car in the first place.
After doing his homework on engine combos and different powertrain setups, Allan settled on a 4AGZE motor as the starting point for the build. But rather than going with a screaming all-motor 4AG, he instead opted for a forced-induction setup. This is, of course, the better choice if financial ruin is your goal, but Allan was lucky enough to meet the Vibrant Performance guys at SEMA and managed to secure himself sponsorship on the intercooler, UJ bends, all the couplers, oil catch can and vacuum manifold.
After doing his homework on engine combos and different powertrain setups, Allan settled on a 4AGZE motor as the starting point for the build.
That’s when life took a very unhappy turn for Allan and his family, his wife delivering twins and a month-long stay in the hospital ending with the loss of one of their baby boys. Grief-stricken and stressed to the max, the last thing on Allan’s mind at this point was his Corolla. But as he explained, the Tune ’Til Broke crew was hard at work. “I was four hours away at the hospital when one night I get a call from the guys. No ‘hello,’ no ‘how’s it going,’ just a ‘listen!’ This was the first time my AE86 was fired up and is exactly the kind of stuff that explains why we’re all are in this scene. Just doing it for the love.”
After that, it was time to take on the rust. As Allan put it, “I have no body shop skills, so I hired a local dude that has a passion for it. He had a vision and it turned out great. He cut the stock arches out and reinforced the panels for the Origin front fenders and rear arches.” With the body kit fitted and molded in, it was time to pick a color. “I figured I’d been in the doghouse long enough for buying this car, so I decided to let my wife choose the color. I wanted blue and she wanted green. Off to JB’s Custom Colors we went for a gallon of what I call Money Pit Metallic Green.”
That’s when Allan caught the carbon-fiber bug, another surefire way to empty an otherwise healthy bank account. As he explained, “I met a local retired guy that made CF parts for his old Minis in his basement. He CF wrapped all my intercooling piping. Why? Because I could and I liked the look. He made a CF spark plug cover, headlight covers, air diverter, license plate holder and I continue to look for more things to cover.”
I figured I’d been in the doghouse long enough for buying this car, so I decided to let my wife choose the color.
“Tuning ’til broke” may not be grammatically correct, but then these guys aren’t writing novels, they’re building bad-ass street cars like Allan Dodds’ AE86, and they’re doing it for all the right reasons. They’re not in it for magazine spreads (except in Modified, of course) or the hipster appeal of going broke to finish an epic project. Nope, as Allan put it, “Never built for the finish product, but built for the process and the friendships it has created. I wanna give a shout out to the people that made this happen — hopefully, it makes up for the late nights, bashed knuckles, upset wives and rough mornings the next day.”
Why We Picked It
With a paint name like Money Pit Green and a club name like Tune ’Til Broke, this is one AE86 build that oozes character, both from the car itself and the owner and his crew. It’s also a great example of how a project car can bring people closer together and even help them deal with hardships and losses in life, even when the car itself might be causing a few of its own (like pissing off the wife and wearing out the wallet turbo).
Specs & Details
'86 Toyota Corolla Coupe
Engine 1.6-liter 4AGZE DOHC inline-4
Engine Modifications 4AG high-compression cylinder head; blue top camshafts; Fidanza cam gears; GReddy timing belt; NST clear timing belt cover; Cometic head gasket; ARP head studs; Technotoy Tuning TVIS eliminator adapter; Garrett turbocharger; HKS black series BOV; EEngineering turbo manifold; 550cc RX-7 fuel injectors; AEM FPR; Russell FPR gauge & oil cooler lines & fittings; Bosch 044 fuel pump w/ surge tank; MSD ignition coils & wires; NGK spark plugs; Vibrant Performance exhaust, intercooler, intercooler piping, silicone couplers, vacuum manifold & oil catch can; MagnaFlow street series muffler; Koyo radiator; Samco hoses; Moroso coolant reservoir; DEI hood heat wrap; A’PEXi Super Ground Stabilizer; wire tuck
Drivetrain ACT clutch; Fidanza flywheel
Engine Management Microtech EFI LT10 w/ X4; Innovate wideband; GReddy boost controller
Wheels, Tires & Brakes 16x8" XXR 513 wheels; Nexen 3000 195/50R16 tires; Transdapt 1.25” wheel spacers; Powerslot slotted rotors; Hawk HPS bake pads; Earl’s SS brake lines
Suspension GReddy Type S coilovers & strut tower bar (f); Whiteline adjustable sway bars; Battleversion panhard bar (r); Technotoy Tuning NCRA & front control arms; Energy Suspension master bushing kit
Exterior Money Pit Green metallic paint; Vertex style body kit; Origin Lab front wide fenders & rear overfenders; Aerocatch hood pins; VIS CF hood; custom CF light covers, air diverter for rad & license plate holder; Toyota JDM redline taillights; Bosch H4 conversion; Alumina HIDs; Vision X LED marker/turn signals
Interior STRI boost, EGT & oil pressure gauges; GReddy remote damper control box; Sparco steering wheel; NRG quick release; Yonaka seats (f); Technotoy Tuning short shifter; Optima Red Top trunk-mounted battery; Autoloc power windows & locks
Special Thanks To my wife & kids; team Tune ’Til Broke: Nick, Scott, Brandon, Matt x2, Dudley, Rob & Darryl for pushing me to try before I cry; Lordco Auto parts for being my sponsor; Vibrant performance, these guys rock & if you ever have dealt with them, you know; my dad for putting a wrench in my hand; Dorikaze; Club4ag & Revspot; If I forgot you, my bad