Every first week of November, the annual SEMA Show takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada. We here at Super Street look forward to this every year because we're fans of automobiles in general but it's also in Vegas, which gives us the opportunity to blow money we don't have on booze and gambling. That and the industry parties are great because we never get to stand around shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of other dudes. One great thing about SEMA is that you get to see all kinds of different builds, no matter what make or model. Many companies bring out their best demo cars to display and we look forward to scouring the showroom floors to find you guys something unique to showcase here in our magazine. The event is enormous and it usually takes us a whole week to navigate our way through it. Finding a feature-worthy car isn't hard because the show is littered with so many, but to find something that is truly different takes fair amount of time and luck. It also has to fit our demographic of course; we can't just throw a crazy lifted truck on here and not expect insane amounts of hate mail to flood in-we already get enough of that as it is.
This year's SEMA show produced something very special and lucky for us, it caught our eyes the moment we walked on to the floors of the show.
Sitting outside wedged in between the Meguiars booth and a make-shift dirt hill that Ken Block was to do demo runs in was this widebody AE86 Corolla GT-S. It's not your conventional 8-6 build. The kit itself was unlike the usual drift-style builds and resembled more Japanese Super GT. The wheels were definitely new to the market because we had never seen them before and under the hood sat something especially unique: a Toyota BEAMS 3S-GE motor. This Corolla was certainly a car that we had to get more information on and when we found out who was responsible behind the build, we were even more surprised.
This 1986 Corolla GT-S, owned by Motegi Racing, is the handywork of Stephan Papadakis. Does the name sound familiar? Well, it should. He's a legend in our industry and made history by piloting the AEM Drag Civic to World's Fastest Sport Compact and World's Quickest Honda titles in 2003-and that was just the beginning. Since becoming a legendary sport compact drag racer, he's also jumped into other segments of the industry by building an S2000 drift car. Steph is also responsible for assembling the AEM/Rockstar V8-powered Scion tC, which is piloted by teammate Tanner Foust, and even had his hands on a Nissan Frontier Pro Lite truck. The man knows his stuff and has been involved in many different facets of the industry. With a resume as accomplished as his, it should come as no surprise that Motegi Racing summoned him to build this Corolla, which was a no-brainer for Motegi as he's had a long partnership with them throughout the years.
Motegi needed a vehicle to help showcase their new MR124 wheel and Steph had his sights set on something wild. "I wanted to build a platform that was rich with history and easily recognizable," he explains. "Unfortunately, Corolla builds are typically under-financed and we wanted to build this one with all the parts that most enthusiasts would want."
To properly showcase a new wheel, you need a vehicle that almost slaps you in the face and forces you to look at it. With the custom widebody treatment in place, Steph would be able to fit aggressively-sized wheels with ease. Crazy wheel fitment is popular in all segments of the community and the 17x9.5", -57mm offset Motegi Racing MR124 wheel is an absolute eye-catcher. What better way to show off a new wheel in your line-up than by making it as insanely deep as possible? Housed over the MR124 wheels is a completely custom-made carbon-fiber widebody kit by After Hours Composite Works. The kit is one-off and themed with Japanese GT300 styling in mind. "No one made a body kit that we were particularly fond of so we decided to go with an all custom one. I always thought the GT300 race cars looked the best so that was the route we chose. We had a larger budget than most so we weren't looking for popular parts. We wanted to have a very unique build."
"Unique" would almost be an understatement when you look beneath the cut Seibon carbon fiber hood. Lurking below is nothing typical of a Corolla that's over two decades old. Sitting between Jenvey individual throttle-bodies and a custom After Hours Automotive header is a 2.0 liter "Black Top" BEAMS 3S-GE. For those unfamiliar with the BEAMS motor, don't be surprised; you're probably not the only one. The only enthusiasts who are familiar with this particular motor are die-hard Toyota guys. The dual VVT-i engine originated from a 2000 Toyota Altezza, the Japanese equivilent of our Lexus IS300. While we Americans received the NA 2JZ-GE engine, the Japanese Altezza RS200 had the BEAMS powerplant and a 6-speed manual transmission, which was also transferred to this AE86. The combination of the classic Hachi-Roku and the new-age VVT-i 3S-GE is uncommon because of the rarity of the engine stateside. They're not exactly cheap either, in comparison to the readily available 4A-G motors.
An AEM standalone engine management system gives life to the 3S-GE and finds a home inside the cockpit of the custom red with copper pearl-hued Corolla. The interior remains simple and straight to business. The dashboard has been re-wrapped in suede where a RacePak digital dash sits, replacing the aged instrumentation. The only custom fabricated piece inside is a full cage courtesy of Rob Miller Race Cars. The OEM seats and other original components have been deleted and substituted with a proverbial Sparco catalog of parts.
Motegi Racing wanted a vehicle that was easily recognizable to showcase their new rim design, and Steph and his team executed their plan to brilliance. The Corolla is unlike any we've seen before and has all the pieces to leave a stamp in our minds. SEMA officials would agree as the Motegi Racing Corolla received their 2010 Grand Turismo Award for "Best Asian Import". With a field filled with so many other great builds, it's quite the honor for a 24-year old Toyota Corolla that just had a heart transplant.
1986 Toyota Corolla GT-S
Owner Motegi Racing Wheels
Hometown Cerritos, CA
Occupation Aftermarket wheel manufacturer
Engine 2000 Toyota 2.0L BEAMS 3S-GE; Custom fabricated engine mounts; Jenvey individual throttle-bodies; Custom intake manifold; AEM universal fuel rail; Custom -6 AN fuel lines; After Hours Automotive custom exhaust manifold; XRP radiator hoses; Custom GP Motorsport mil-spec engine harness; Mishimoto radiator
Drivetrain 2000 Toyota Altezza 6-speed manual; Custom driveshaft
Engine Management AEM 60-1050
Footwork & Chassis KYB front coilovers; KONI rear coilovers w/Eibach springs; T3 Tuning front camber plate, front lower control arm; Custom three-link rear lower control arms; Manual power-steering rack
Brakes T3 Wilwood front brake calipers
Wheels & Tires 17x9.5" -57mm offset Motegi Racing MR124; 255/40-17 Nitto NT01; Muteki SR48 lug nuts; ARP wheel studs
Exterior AfterHours Composite Works custom JGTC GT-300 style aero kit; APR GT-300 rear spoiler; Seibon carbon-fiber doors, hood, and rear hatch; PPG Custom Red w/Copper Pearl paint; Spin Imaging vinyl graphics
Interior Custom Rob Miller Race Cars rollcage; Sparco 325 steering wheel, seats, rails, safety harnesses, shift knob, and pedals; RacePak IQ3 digital dash display; Suede-wrapped dashboard; all sound deadening removed
Props Motegi Racing Wheels; Papadakis Racing; After Hours Composite Works; Robbie Miller Race Cars