We would be lying to you if we sat here and told you that this Corolla was an easy find for us. With all of our endless resources, you would think that getting hold of the owner of this AE86 Corolla would be simple. In reality, it took us a couple months and a bit of luck to find it. We first spotted this Hachi-Roku at the 2010 Nisei Import Showoff event. While the event was filled to the brim with high-caliber builds of all makes, this Corolla sat alone, off to the side of the downtown Los Angeles lot-and it had our undivided attention. Something about it was different. You just get that feeling when you look at it. Sure, the pearl orange paint was easy on the eyes and the concave faces of the Volk TE37Vs had us drooling, but something about it was definitely different. It was an older Corolla, that's for sure, but the sound that emitted from the stealthy exhaust left no indication that it was of the Toyota variety. It wasn't until the car was finally parked in its designated spot at the show did we have the opportunity to see what lurked under the hood. Our initial hunch proved correct; no 4A-GE stared back at us upon inspection-this 8-6 had the heart of a Honda.
While the S2000 F20C swap is not new or outrageously undoable, it is still a welcome and albeit unexpected surprise whenever we get a chance to see one. It's almost like seeing a hot female out in public. You know they exist, but it doesn't mean you won't stand and stare at them awkwardly when you catch one walking by. There are some places where these types of swaps don't exist though, and to them, this is on some other plane of existence that they can't possibly comprehend. A Honda engine in the body of a Toyota is blasphemous to purists. Luckily for the staff here, we have a largely open-minded demographic that appreciates anything that is built tastefully-sometimes even if it's not, but for those months we give out free stuff to keep the hate mail from pouring in.
In any case, this Corolla had every aspect covered and had just the right touches to land it onto the pages of Super Street. The only problem was we had absolutely no idea who the owner was. There was no one near the car at Nisei Showoff and the crowd was large enough to make it even harder for us to search for him. A frantic search online turned up every AE86 Corolla that wasn't this one, and it wasn't until another month would pass did we finally find the owner. Fortunately, the annual Japanese Classic Car Show brought the man behind the car out from the shadows.
Upon meeting Ka Wong, the owner of this beautifully-assembled AE86, it was easy to understand why it was such a task to source the man out. While the car is draped in a vibrant pearl orange paint job that screams for attention, Ka Wong is actually quite the unassuming individual. Ka is a Chinese import from Hong Kong that has a huge love for cars and wears a polite, almost nervous smile throughout the time that we had to meet with him. What's interesting is that Ka found his niche outside of cars in the Hawaiian barbeque game. He is actually the operator of his very own L&L Hawaiian BBQ restaurant, and his sister owns another one in a neighboring city. We've had the chance to feature professional basketball players, nurses with money coming out of their ears, and other odd jobs, but we definitely have not ever featured a vehicle built by an owner of an L&L BBQ establishment. If you haven't noticed by now, we love Hawaiian BBQ and were hoping that continuously plugging it would yield us some free deliveries of Chicken Katsu and Spam Musubi to our offices. (We're still waiting. - Staff)
So how exactly did a Hong Kong native end up with an S2000-motivated old school Corolla, you ask? "Well, I never intended to build an AE86 at all. It kind of just happened," he explains. "I actually have a (Mitsubishi) Evo 9 that I built before this car. The exterior was pretty simple, but I had done so much work to the motor that it wasn't driveable on the street anymore. I still have it, but it is a hassle to drive around now. I picked up this Corolla as a side project, but never had intentions on doing anything too crazy to it."
An F20C swap might qualify as "crazy" for some, but for Ka it was an easy choice to make. The idea of having newer technology inside a nimble chassis such as the 8-6 sounded like the perfect combination. "I did the swap because so many guys out there spend so much money on black-top 20-valve 4A-GE engines and they make no power. In stock form, the S2K motor makes more power than a built 4A-G. You would have to spend thousands on building up that 20-valve engine just to get the power of an untouched F20C."
What makes this Honda/Toyota mash-up so simple is a mount kit designed and sold by John Russakoff, owner of JSP. The JSP AE86/S2000 conversion consists of mounting brackets that allow for the use of factory S2000 and AE86 engine mounts. No cutting of the firewall or transmission tunnel is necessary and is set up so that people can do this swap without having to hack up their engine bays. The mount set then places the F20C lower, giving the Corolla a low center of gravity which helps maintain the agility that the legendary AE86 is known for. Making good power already in stock form, Ka decided not to do anything major to the motor but does have random thoughts of possible boosting it in the future.
The swap is the most intriguing part of this build, but the exterior aspect is certainly not to be overlooked. Under the many coats of Pearl Spicy Orange paint laid down by Auto Explosion are D-Max widened front fenders and hood, Origin rear fender flares, TRD rear wing, as well as a complete JDM Corolla Levin front end conversion. What looks like Honda Vision Technica side mirrors are actually pieces made by a small Japanese company known as Cashew Sports.
Housed behind the negative-to-infinity concave-faced TE37V wheels are big brakes upgrades by Wilwood. Giving this liftback proper ride height are GReddy Type-S coilovers while the rest of the suspension is modernized with various parts from Nagisa Auto, Cusco, and StyleUeo. The interior, while dated and aged like fine wine, has also been modernized; Bride Vorga seats replace the torn OEM units, Takata safety harnesses keep Ka firmly in his seat while he drives aggressively to L&L, and a concave-faced Nardi steering wheel improves overall driver position. The only downside of doing the F20C swap into the AE86 is the loss of the factory air conditioning. If you have never owned a Toyota, then you will never experience the bone-chilling blizzard that comes from Toyotas, even after 20-plus years of being on the road. The Corolla also isn't a convertible like the S2000, so Ka doesn't have the ability to put the top down when temperatures rise. The only thing he can do is pull his own top down and turn on the 6-inch portable fan that is clipped onto the passenger side of his Cusco roll cage.
"That's the S2000 A/C conversion," Ka Wong says. "I turn it on and I can feel the breeze in one hair."
Owner Ka Wong
Hometown Gardena, CA
Occupation Manager Of L&L Hawaiian BBQ (ALHAMBRA, CA)
Engine 2004 2.0L Honda F20C; JSP AE86/S2000 conversion engine mount set and custom air intake; Custom exhaust system; Setrab 616 oil cooler; Koyo polished aluminum radiator; HKS oil cap; Mugen reservoir covers
Engine Management Stock S2000 ECU
Drivetrain 2004 S2000 6-speed transmission; ACT clutch kit; OS Giken 2-way limited-slip differential; Custom driveshaft
Suspension & Chassis GReddy Type-S coilovers; Nagisa Auto Shakitto Plates; Ueo Style lower control arms, inner tie rod, and outer tie rod; Cusco tension rods, front and rear sway bars, adjustable 4-links; T3 traction brackets
Brakes Wilwood big brake kit; Project Mu front and rear brake pads
Wheels & Tires Front: 15x9'' Volk TE37V (-15 offset); 195/50-15 Falken Ziex ZE912; Rear: 15x9.5'' Volk TE37V (-25 offset); 205/50-15 Falken Ziex ZE912
Exterior PPG Pearl Spicy Orange paint; JDM Kouki Levin front-end conversion; D-Max carbon-fiber vented hood and front fenders; Origin rear flares; Cashew Sports side mirrors; TRD rear wing; JDM Kouki taillights
Interior Bride Vorga seats; Takata 4-point safety harnesses; Nardi Deep Corn steering wheel; Cusco 6-point roll cage; Bubble shift knob; JDM carpet; Tomei water temperature, oil temperature, and oil pressure gauges; OEM S2000 instrument cluster; Portable 6-inch fan
Thanks You Thanks to L&L Hawaiian BBQ; Mastermind; Auto Explosion; Uchida Garage; JSP; AE86 Night