Masataka Ikeda started tuning the moment he was legally allowed behind the wheel, which in Japan means he had to wait 18 long years. Attracted to the classic lines and sheer simplicity of inexpensive, rear-wheel drive Toyota commuter cars, Ikeda-san slowly honed his tuning skills. Fifteen years later, and the farmland-born builder has created a brand for himself in Inazuma Worx, and has also finished numerous award-winning Toyota showstoppers. His most recent achievements are nothing short of spectacular - a 1982 AE70 Corolla sedan and this 1983 Corolla Trueno AE86 powered by a stout 20-valve 4A-GE.
Ikeda-san's devotion to the Corolla badge wasn't just due to appearances or performance, his passion stems from his surroundings. Raised in a rural town two hours south of Osaka, entertainment options were limited at best. Tedium eventually gave way to enthusiasm, when Ikeda-san decided to see how quickly he could careen around the mountain passes outside of his hometown. Being that Wakayama Prefecture is teaming with twisting backroads, Masataka Ikeda soon found contentment in the art of building, tuning, and drifting vintage Toyota Corollas.
The Art of Shaving
Ikeda-san's approach to building rear-wheel-drive Corollas changed dramatically when he discovered engine bay customization, in particular shaved and tucked bays. It was unlike anything he had ever seen, for smoothed bays are still somewhat of a rarity in Japan's tuning world. Seeing an award-winning shaved bay in person made a real impression on the vintage Toyota enthusiast, so much so, that he decided to forego his hobby of drifting entirely to tackle the art of shaving.
Like any DIY guy worth his salt, Ikeda-san began researching every custom engine bay post he could find online. While external and internal aesthetics had always played an important role in his builds, the area under the hood had always been a place for performance, and not appearance. Excited, and slightly intimidated, the self-taught training began, and with it came all of the inevitable missteps and growing pains that come along with teaching oneself a new skill.
By this point it had become far more financially feasible for Ikeda-san to do damn near everything himself. He began investing in paint and metalworking tools as well as put his stamp on every aspect of his Trueno build from the engine assembly, to the suspension conversions, electrical and fuel systems, but first Ikeda-san would tackle the exterior and interior.
Outside of a full black-and-white Panda respray, some period-correct decals, and matching Trueno mudflaps, the body on this car remains almost entirely unaltered.
Mimicking its exterior, the cabin of this car is relatively untouched, save for some Defi gauges, a Nardi steering wheel, safety equipment, and a tricked-out Tilton pedal assembly. When asked what proved to be the most challenging portion of piecing this part of the project together, Ikeda-san confesses that finding original floor mats was almost impossible. So, if you know anyone with a minty-fresh set of GT-APEX floor mats, tell them to sell high because they're one of the most valuable AE86 parts out there!
Rebuilt 4A-GE 20v is the Business
As for the engine in this AE86, it too is what would have originally come in the car, but that's about where the OEM tour ends. Featuring a handful of carefully selected upgrades, and a bay that's seen more cosmetic work than an adult film actress, Ikeda-san's focus on what's under the hood is easily the biggest attraction on this automobile.
Bordering on being labeled as "completely detached," this dual-cam, 20-valve version of the 4A-GE motor features a ton of one-off Inazuma Worx handiwork. From the custom wiring harness and handmade, completely hidden radiator, to the exhaust, engine plaque, and perfectly plumbed lines, Ikeda-san's personal touch is all over this bay. However, when it comes to engine internals, Toda Racing remains this man's go-to brand, with their line of high compression pistons, camshafts, valve springs, cam pulleys, and oil sending unit gracing the motor.
While a series of Rising Racing forged H-section rods push the Toda pistons upward toward a TRD 0.8mm metal head gasket, a Keihin FCR 41 downdraft carburetor sits above it all, fortified by a Yoshimura dual-stack intake funnel system. On the hot side, a beautifully crafted, completely custom Car Peace header funnels hot exhaust out of the engine, while a Meziere electric water pump keeps internal temps in check. Like its sedan sibling, this 4A-GE engine comes attached to a T50 gearbox, which receives support from an Exedy Hyper Series single disc clutch, which is assisted by a Tomei two-way limited-slip differential out of a Nissan Silvia S15.
Chassis Up to Par
Brakes on this vehicle consist of a GReddy front, Nissan Silvia S15 rear combo, which along with the transmission and engine, are controlled by that slick Tilton 600 pedal assembly. Suspension is a blend of Inazuma Worx custom coilovers and adjustable suspension arms, made possible by a multi-link Silvia rear end conversion. Holding it all up is a super wide, staggered set of SSR Longchamp XR4S wheels in an offset that allows just enough fender clearance once cambered.
Three Years to Triumph
All told, it took Ikeda-san two years to shave, mod, respray, and assemble this car, at which point he decided that he wasn't happy with how the bay had turned out. So, the guy spent another year underneath the bonnet, fine-tuning what he had already crafted and creating a glorious masterpiece that makes you think the engine is floating in the midair.
Having one of the cleanest engine bays on the planet is no easy task, yet somehow, a country boy from southern Japan has managed to do so almost entirely on his own. Finally show-worthy, Ikeda-san's AE86 took home Wekfest Japan's "Toyota of the Festival" award, as well as "Engine Bay of the Festival" and "Corolla of the Festival" trophies. The little Corolla also took home the coveted "Classic Award" at StanceNation last year, earning many more at smaller shows as well.
Build complete and awards acquired, this humble DIY devotee now sets his sights on the designing, manufacturing, and testing of his line of Corolla-specific Inazuma Worx products. Although creating super strong, fully adjustable suspension arms is his primary focus at the moment, Ikeda-san says that he would eventually like to move into creating engine dress-up components full-time. We're fairly confident that he won't have any issue finding buyers, either, judging by the quality of work on his two epic Corolla builds.
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