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The rise of Project AE86

Part II

Robert Choo
Apr 22, 2003
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We know, we know. You haven't heard much about our Project AE86 lately. Thanks for all the e-mails and interest in this project; we're happy to tell you our mighty Corolla GTS has come out of its winter hibernation. Spring is in the air and our old-school Toyota is ready for its transformation from junkyard dog to show dog. (OK, we're kidding about the show part.)

We have some exciting modifications in store for our precious Hachiroku, including both engine and bodywork. We have already installed a three-point rear strut tower brace and a front chassis brace from Cusco, as well as front anti-roll bars from TRD rounding out the suspension package. The car will also be sporting a new set of Koenig Rewind kicks with Toyo Proxes RA-1 soles.

Lightening the car is a dope fiberglass Cusco trunk and hood. A few trips to Pick-Your-Part have produced some clean fender panels and other interior goodies that spruce up the Hachi's overall condition.

The main modification we're concentrating on now is the heart of the vehicle--the engine. Since we're expecting to run a fairly modified powerplant in the Corolla, we opted to start off with a 4AGZE block, which is stronger than the original 4AGE bottom-end. To keep the cost of the engine low, we'll still be using the factory GZE rods; they're fairly stout and capable of handling 200 to 235 hp without any problems.

We'll also be using the factory GZE crank, but it will undergo knife-edging and lightening to reduce the rotating mass. For the slugs, we opted for high-compression Arias pieces. Arias cc'd the combustion chamber of the cylinder head for the engine to calculate the piston's proper dome size, and thus achieve the proper 11.5:1 compression ratio.

Up top, the cylinder head will be ported and polished by Rick Kemp of Rick Kemp Engineering, formerly of TRD USA. If you're looking for someone who knows about Toyota cylinder heads, Kemp is your man. His cylinder heads are works of art.

The head will be stuffed with a complete Toda valvetrain, which includes springs, retainers, under-bucket shims and the shimless buckets. The bumpsticks are also from Toda. On the intake side, we'll be running 272-degree duration with 9.0mm lift, and on the exhaust side, we'll run 264-degree duration, also with 9.0mm lift.

We're still deciding upon a paint scheme for the skin of the AE86. It's down to the stock silver or Lexus SC400 blue silver. We prefer to stay within the Toyota familia. We'll let you know what our final decision is, but until then, don't even think about biting this flava!

Other plans for our Project Hachiroku include more Cusco upgrades, including possibly some lower control arms and panhard bar. Unfortunately, all these Cusco jewels are relying upon my wallet, and as such, they'll be slow to come by.

Adding pieces to a car one by one is part of the fun, though. When I was 18, I would save up all my hard-earned money to buy parts for my Integra. Damn, it brings back some memories. Keep sending your thoughts to us concerning what you want to see happen with our Project AE86. We appreciate your ideas and feedback. For all you Corolla fans out there, keep revving those 4AGs.

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By Robert Choo
118 Articles

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