There is just something so undeniably cool about old school Japanese imports. You don’t even have to like them per se, but you can’t argue that they immediately command your attention. Most are very boxy, not very aerodynamic but have this certain appeal about them. For the past couple years, Toyota was all but forgotten in the motorsports world, and definitely not what enthusiasts wanted to tune, at least not in the way they used to with cars like the Supra. But thanks to efforts on the Scion side—especially with the release of the FR-S—Toyota’s back in a big way.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s a hard sell trying to convince people to build a newer model Toyota these days, and before the FR-S was announced, it almost seemed as if Toyota was satisfied travelling down that road. Toyotas are great for everyday people who seek reliability. The glory days of modified Toyotas belong to the ’90s and older, which is a shame. Their sports cars have always been something that enthusiasts truly cherish. Drifting brought worldwide attention to the AE86, but there were already lots of people building those cars long before the general public cared—and then, suddenly, everyone wanted one. Slowly, people started searching out older model Toyotas, and in the process, a subculture of Japanese classics began trending. Naturally, there are also a lot of enthusiasts who are also well-versed in old school culture, some old enough to be our parents (or actually are). The best part is: they never go out of style. Nostalgia is an undying trend that outlasts any popular engine swap, crazy wheel fitment or custom finish.
There are many different ways to interpret old school Japanese style but one very popular form of modification is the Shakotan style, which is a way of tuning developed decades ago in Japan where cars are outfitted with small, yet aggressively-sized wheels, and are hammered to the floor. As the years progressed, younger enthusiasts became fans of Japanese classic cars and decided to create their own interpretation of the Shakotan style. They take the essential elements to characterize that look but have added their own personal touches to make it all their own.
Kenny Chow is no stranger to style, and currently runs with the Fatlace crew, a company that is at the forefront of style for today’s younger generation. A big part of Fatlace’s culture revolves around cars, so it should come as no surprise that Kenny’s olive green E70 Corolla wagon is something very cool, even if it’s not the cleanest and fastest thing around. We love that it holds true to its traditional Japanese flair while reflecting characteristics of his personality. “I’ve always been a huge fan of Japanese classics and wagons in particular,” Kenny says. “Before I picked-up this Corolla, I owned a couple of AE86s and was looking for another. But they became too popular, and as a result, too expensive, so I decided to build a wagon instead.”
Modified Corollas of this chassis tend to retain an appearance much like Kenny’s. They are relatively simple, slammed and roll on some wide, rare, Japanese wheels. You won’t find that huge of a differentiation between other Corollas because they never had nearly as much aftermarket support as the AE86 Hachi-Rokus. Many times, owners had to have their own parts fabricated or utilized components from other Corollas that they made work. Since Kenny had been a previous owner of a couple AE86s, he realized there were many parts were interchangeable. He says, “Parts are definitely harder to find for this car in the U.S. The chassis just isn’t all that popular over here, so I had to make do with what I could find. Luckily, AE86 parts are common and make for suitable replacements.”