2012 Lexus IS-F – Wicked Serpent


A venomous snake whose bite is nearly always fatal, the black mamba isn’t a creature you want to cross paths with. Known for its tenacity and extremely aggressive demeanor, it is one of the most feared snakes in Africa. It’s also the fastest moving snake on the planet, capable of slithering along at extremely fast speeds. What does a dangerous reptile from Africa have to do with a luxury sedan from Pennsylvania? Surprisingly, there are more similarities than you might expect.

Our story begins with Brian Fox, owner of Fox Marketing in York, Pennsylvania. Not only does Brian own and operate a successful graphic design and marketing business, but his company is also responsible for designing and building custom cars. Back in 2008, Brian and his team were tasked with creating a custom Lexus IS-F to use at the almighty SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

Fast-forward to last year, and Brian and his team wanted to take another crack at building an IS-F: the then newly refreshed 2012 model. After a long and comprehensive search to find a black model, a local dealership was able to source one for Fox, and without even going for a joyride, the car went straight from the dealership to the shop to be immediately stripped down.
2012 lexus IS F stainless steel piping Photo 2/8 | 2012 Lexus IS-F – Wicked Serpent

The first item to tackle was the engine’s performance capabilities. Though the factory 5.0L 416hp V8 engine Lexus included in the IS-F is far from slow in factory spec, the team set out to implement a similar rear-mounted twin-turbo setup to the one used in its previous SEMA build. A pair of Turbonetics GTK-350 turbochargers was installed in a custom rear-mounted configuration at the back of the car, along with a pair of 38mm wastegates. If you’re familiar with the sound of a tuned Lexus V8 rumbling down the road, just imagine how gnarly it sounds with a pair of snails acting as the exhaust. Despite what some naysayers report, this system works very well, and response is crisp and immediate, especially with the 8-speed automatic transmission. The major advantage to a setup like this is that there are no heat issues or space constraints to deal with under the hood. Instead, it’s all contained in the back.

A Yonaka Motorsports dual-core intercooler cools the charge, while more than 100 inches of Yonaka T-304 stainless piping are used throughout the turbo and intercooler setup. The car’s automatic transmission is left unmodified, aside from the addition of some Amsoil automatic transmission fluid. Despite having to alter a few aspects of its previous turbo kit design to fit the updated ’12 model IS-F, Fox Marketing was able to complete the turbo kit fabrication and installation in about two weeks. When this Lexus is filled up with its venom of choice—VP100 street legal racing fuel—the results are lethal. At a safe and conservative 6 psi (it is a stock block, after all), the car put down an impressive 550 whp. With power like that on tap, we’re guessing this mamba moves at speeds that rival its snake counterpart.

For this Lexus to live up to its nickname, the exterior had to be equally lethal and aggressive. Brian’s go-to body shop, R Miller Autobody in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, was tasked with the exterior overhaul that would include a completely custom exterior package consisting of a modified front bumper, side skirts, and rear bumper. The width and stance of the vehicle were also altered with custom sheetmetal fender flares on all four corners, widening the fenderwells by 2 inches. The bumpers and side skirts were plastic welded to match the bulging new fender flares. “Whenever possible I like the idea of using the same materials as the manufacturer. We built the car to look as it should have from the factory,” Brian explained. After all the custom bodywork was complete, the IS-F was sprayed in a gorgeous hue of BASF R-M Onyx Black Pearl.
2012 lexus IS F iforged FS flux wheels Photo 3/8 | 2012 Lexus IS-F – Wicked Serpent

With the exterior and go-fast goodies checked off the list, the right set of wheels would be critical to complete the entire package. A beautiful set of custom, 20-inch FS Flux wheels from iForged features flat-black faces, gloss-black lips, and Alpine White hardware that match the car’s interior for a true one-off look. The setup is staggered with a 9.5-inch-wide pair up front and beefy 11.5-inch-wide wheels that fill the custom arches just right. The new rollers are wrapped in a set of sticky Toyo T1R tires to ensure that all 550 whp make it to the pavement effectively. Finally, a set of Road Magnet Performance lowering springs gives the car an aggressive look that’s free of fender gap while maintaining the OE Lexus ride quality.

At this point in the build, Brian posted a few photos of the car on the company’s Facebook page. Almost immediately after the photos went live, he received an email from an enthusiast in Miami who wanted to purchase the car, despite the fact that it wasn’t quite completed or even listed for sale. Though he was hesitant, Brian was offered a number he couldn’t refuse and agreed to sell the car upon completion. The buyer’s only requirement was that the interior of the Lexus be Alpine White. So with deposit in hand, Brian stripped the interior and took it over to Lee at New Image Upholstery, where the seats and door panels were wrapped in Alpine White leather, complete with black stitching and IS-F logos throughout.

With the IS-F completed, it was hard to say goodbye, but Brian knew it was going to a good home in Miami. So if you’re ever in the area and you see a sinister black IS-F that screams out the tailpipes unlike any other IS-F, stay away, because this snake packs quite the venomous bite.

2012 lexus IS F fender flares
2012 lexus IS F fox marketing front bumper
2012 lexus IS F real valence

Specs & Details
2012 Lexus IS-F

Engine Toyota 2UR-GSE 5.0L V8

Engine Modifications Custom rear-mounted twin-turbo kit; Turbonetics GTK-350 turbines with dual 38mm wastegates; Yonaka Motorsports dual intercooler; T-304 stainless steel piping; VP Racing Fuels VP100 street-legal fuel

Drivetrain Amsoil automatic transmission fluid
2012 lexus IS F carbon fiber engine cover Photo 7/8 | 2012 Lexus IS-F – Wicked Serpent

Suspension Road Magnet performance springs

Interior Custom Alpine White leather with black stitching; IS-F logos

Exterior BASF R-M Onyx Black Pearl paint; Fox marketing front bumper, side skirts, rear valance, and custom sheetmetal 2-inch fender flares; Meguiar’s car care products; paint and bodywork by R Miller Auto Body

Wheels, Tires & Brakes 20×9.5” (f) 20×11.5” (r) iForged FS Flux wheels with flat-black faces, gloss-black lips, Alpine White hardware; Toyo T1R tires 255/35/20 (f) 305/30/20 (r); OEM Brembo 6-piston calipers (f), 2-piston rear calipers, two-piece brake rotors; ’09 IS-F air cooler

Numbers 550 hp at 6 psi

Santa Paula Chevrolet


Don’t Drink Alcohol and Drive – Here Are Some Great Alternatives

Drinking and driving is the biggest “”no-no”” around, but just because you happen to have been voted as the designated driver it really doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the party. There are some really tasty, refreshing and . . . dare I say it . . . rather special drinks you can enjoy which don’t have any alcohol in them at all.
Summer barbecues can be fun for everybody, with or without the beer. These recipes all come with a warning however, it’s not a health warning but rather a warning that the people who are supposed to be drinking the beer and wine will probably try to snaffle a taste of these delicious drinks when you’re not looking. You’ll have to be on your guard and make sure that you have plenty in reserve.


Ginger Cranberry Punch – yes, it sounds pretty special and it tastes special too. Take some thin slices of fresh ginger and boil in a little water, then take it away from the heat and leave it steeping to really absorb all the flavors. Then strain the liquid and add a few cups of cranberry juice, raspberry juice will do too if you don’t have the cranberry. Next you’ll need a dash of lemon juice and a few slices of oranges and lemons, then serve it chilled poured over lots and lots of ice. Warning – even the people who aren’t driving and can drink the beer and wine will probably try to drink this, so be sure to keep a close eye on it.
Orange and Lemon Fizz – who doesn’t like something fizzy on a hot summer’s day? Just combine a couple of cups of delicious orange seltzer with a tablespoon of lemon juice and a couple of tablespoons of frozen lemonade. This not only tastes delicious but also looks extremely elegant, particularly if you rub around a cocktail glass rim with some lemon, dip it into some crystallized sugar and fill with ice cubes before filling with this fizzy drink. It’s refreshing, it’s zingy and it’s alcohol free. Again, you’d better hide it from your beer drinking buddies.


Fruity Iced Punch – there are lots of different punch recipes, some include alcohol but some really don’t need it at all. All you’ve got to do is to freeze lots of different fruit juices in the ice trays of your freezer, then pop a collection of ice cubes into a glass and top with saltzer water and ginger ale. This drink is deliciously refreshing and can be different every time, depending upon the flavors of fruit juice you choose.
Limeade – if life serves you lemons make lemonade, and if life serves you limes why not make lemonade? Heat a cup of sugar in a little water, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved then you should add the juice of around 15 limes. It’s a nice touch to save a few wedges for serving. Anyway, pop this drink into the fridge until you are ready to drink it . . . you can make it a few days in advance if you store it in some sort of airtight container.


So, let’s get this party started and head on to Downtown Nissan. There are lots of new and used cars in Los Angeles and you’ll be perfectly capable of taking the test drive if you’ve been sticking to these alcohol free drinks at your party.
You really don’t have to drink alcohol to have a good time, and you really don’t need to buy a new car to have something fabulous to drive.


Subaru “Levorg” Concept Slated for Tokyo Motor Show


Subaru provides a teaser of its all-new concept, the “Levorg,” which will debut at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show in November. The idea will also work as a preview of the Subaru prototype planned for the Japanese market in 2014.

Subaru levorg concept front

Subaru levorg concept headlight

Subaru levorg concept DIT engine

Subaru levorg concept rear badge

Subaru levorg concept wheel

Subaru levorg concept side view

The name “Levorg,” which left us scratching our heads, is a combination of the words “Legacy”, “Revolution” and “Touring,” according to Subaru.

Subaru claims the Levorg gives the best in drivability, safety and environmental friendliness, combined with the practicality of a touring car. It is actually being hyped as a sports tourer.

Additionally, Subaru is showcasing its latest technologies with the Levorg, including the powertrain, which contains the newly-developed 1.6L horizontally-opposed direct injection turbo “DIT” engine. Included as well is the next-generation EyeSight with a lot of added safety functions as well as thefacts about three additional concepts to get revealed with the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show along with the Levorg. The Subaru Viziv Evolution Concept, a plug-in hybrid, the Subaru Cross Sport Design Concept, a compact with comfortable interior and abundant luggage space, and also the Subaru Crossover 7 Concept, which features seven seats.

Earlier inside the month it was confirmed that Subaru would cease creation of its unpopular seven-passenger Tribeca in 2014, which leaves us wondering if the Subaru Crossover 7 Concept may be its replacement in the future.

Stay tuned for more information on the reasoning reveals. Also, for more information, please go to www.subaru.jp/tms2013

The Mazda RX7’s of the 2013 SEMA show


Remember when the Maxda RX7 was one of the most popular tuning platforms in the world? Perform. Times have changed consequently, and now we live in an age where Liberty Walk and Rocket Bunny craziness is sweeping the world. We aren’t saying it’s a bad thing, but we wanted to make sure some other Legendary platforms where covered in the 2013 SEMA Show in case you missed it. Today we went RX7 hunting and see what we could find. Tell us what you think.

Wise Items That Every Road Warrior Needs


Some people have those kinds of jobs where the majority of their working hours are spent on the road. Living life out of your car can be hard; unless you fit these three things into your life that is.

1. Entertainment

When you are spending many hours on the road, one of the most important things that you need to get is something to entertain you while you are on the road. If music and news is your thing, think about getting satellite radio or subscribe to podcasts and a streaming music service. If books are your thing, there are streaming or download services for audio books now, meaning that you can have hours of entertainment for only a few dollars a month.

2. A Comfortable Car


If you are spending a lot of time on the road, one necessity is a car that is comfortable to drive many hours in. With the Nissan Maxima from Nissan Moreno Valley, you can get all of the luxury features you expect of a car that you spend your life in, including a luxury sound system and a rear view monitor, along with a navigation system that will always get you to your destination. This car also has decent gas mileage so that you spend less time at the pump. Find out more about the Maxima and find out how you can schedule a test drive at Metro Nissan Redlands.

3. A Rewards Card

If you are spending a lot of nights at hotels, think about getting a hotel loyalty card. With either joining up as a frequent guest or having a credit card that gives you points, you can earn free stays, upgrades to your room and other perks that you may not have even thought about before. When you find a favorite hotel and are loyal, you have a lot to gain.

1994 Toyota Soarer – Sight For Soar Eyes


“Patience and time do more than strength or passion,” said Jean de la Fontaine, the French Fabulist poet (d. 1695). To many this may be an excellent mode of thought, however the exact opposite is all excessively true nowadays. While modern society is just one of instant gratification, many frown upon the directions we’ve taken for that reason. There’s also something to become said for living life in the moment. Time, in fact, cannot be replenished; once we’re done, that’s it.

De la Fontaine may have been content to fritter away his life and let things happen to him, Forrest Gump-style, but the type-A Hideki Nagahama better embraces Andrew Jackson’s philosophy: When the time for action arrives, stop go and thinking in.” Nagahama-san, of Gunma Prefecture in Japan, has owned a series of fun rear-drive Toyotas over the years such as a Chaser, Mk II, Aristo, even a Celsior, although “Take time to deliberate. But he loves Toyota’s big rear-drive coupe Soarer the most, and he loves drifting. Put the two loves together and there wasn’t a lot of fumfering about in figuring out what he desired to do. In fact, the entire project took just a month. 4 weeks! Think about that for a second. Most of us can’t even get our cars out and in of paint in that amount of time, a lot less build a complete running, functioning drift car with aftermarket engine and chassis parts, plus body modifications to boot. Granted, he owns a shop, N-Style Custom, and can dispatch his minions to function on his car for as long as he required. Even so, one month is very littlesaving time is of paramount importance. What better place to start than under the hood? The big change to the 24-valve 1JZ is in the turbocharging. No reason to break into the lowest-compression engine already set up for boost; as an alternative to mess using the factory ceramic-impeller twin turbos that gained a history of exploding at high boost levels, Nagahama-san upgraded into a single twin-scroll Kinugawa (Garrett) T67-25G 8C huffer. Though just a single turbo, the twin-scroll design means that the exhaust gas’ kinetic energy is more efficiently scavenged; there’s also better pressure distribution in the exhaust ports, and better delivery of exhaust gas energy on the turbine. Faster spooling and quicker response are the upsides there. This also allows greater valve overlap, allowing a cleaner and denser air charge in the cylinders-which needless to say means more power. Also you can introduce an ignition delay, which keeps cylinder temperature down; lower exhaust gas temperatures mean a leaner air/fuel ratio, meaning better mileage to boot. (As if Nagahama-san is worried about fuel mileage.) A greater exhaust to funnel the gasses, enough fuel pressure to satiate the engine’s hunger, and you get a whopping 450 pferdestrake on the international power scale; about 443 horsepower, or nearly double what was available on the Lexus SC400 when it launched in this country in mid-1991 being a 1992 model. Rather than hope for the best with the stock R154 five-speed stick, Nagahama-san installed a German-built Getrag V160 six-speed, pirated from a twin-turbo Supra; it required little more than a twin-plate clutch to beef it.

Could use a bit tightening up for track duty, even though stock Soarer suspension-double-wishbones front and back, with coil springs and shock absorbers-are outstanding for that street. Out go the springs and shocks, and in come a set of Aragosta coilovers, which both stiffen and drop. Engineering the vehicle’s height was the single toughest portion of the build, Nagahama-san reports; the flares, the drop, the camber, the wheels… all had to be carefully sorted, lest he will need to go back and do things twice. And you’ll never save time doing this.

Now, about that color. It’s a surprising someone to Western eyes; the pearl white-painted SSR Professor hoops give it a greater portion of a sun-tanned vibe, but there’s little getting throughout the impression that this color is slightly fleshy. It’s called Milk Tea Beige Metallic, which is as near as we can tell a 2008 home-market Suzuki color, and also the name goes a long way toward explaining its presence: calming yet caffeinated, gentle yet flavorful, milk and tea are as traditional a drink as you’ll find in Japan. One of Nagahama-san’s previous Soarers was red, and that one was as bright as this one is mild. We let it rest to you to divine whether this shade is your cup of, er, well you understandjust over an inch and a half) on each corner, as a way to accommodate the super-sized 18-inch rolling stock. Nagahama-san figured that this was the toughest item around the whole car to make look and work right: “Pulling out the fender too much is not a good idea,” Nagahama-san suggests. There’s more: the front airdam remains an early piece, but a later Kouki third-gen Soarer donated its bumpers and side skirts to offer a slightly more up-to-date look. That look can frequently be seen driving sideways around the drift tracks of Japan. Although it’s not parked much, and although it’s antiseptic in its preparation, Nagahama-san clearly has places to go and things to do.

Something Nagahama-san’s quick-build Soarer teaches us about saving time: You’re gonna get clocked if you’re not paying attention.

1970 Datsun 240Z – Retro Rocket Ship


Perhaps the worst kept secret in your scene today is the growing popularity of classic Japanese car tuning. The S30 Z-cars are leading the charge just like they did 40 odd in the past when they showed the American sports car market there was more to life than ponycars and Corvettes. Even when you’re not into jetting carbs, rust repair, or scouring the Internet for out-of- production parts, you need to admit there’s something irresistible about the classic lines of your car just like the Datsun 240Z.

For Gordon MacSwain, his journey into classic J-tin began when his two eldest sons got their own personal cars (a Nissan 240SX and a Honda Civic hatch) and started modifying them. His oldest son planned to do an SR swap into his ’95 240SX, and as Gordon explained, “That’s when I started searching the net and picked up some understanding of engine swaps. There is plenty of great info out there; all you want do is search and read. I was actually looking around to get a Datsun 510 and kept seeing 240Zs for sale. I was thinking it would be perfect for an RB26 engine swap and was approximately the most badass-looking sports car out thereAs he told us, “The car had been placed in Tucson, Arizona, and had not moved for a lot of, many years. The engine did not run, and everything made out of plastic or rubber was destroyed in the sun. The only real shade it had seen was thanks to a surfboard mounted on the rear hatch. My dad drove over from Yuma to discover the car out and stated it was a keeper. From there, we had it transported to Ohio [where Gordon lives] in the middle of winter.”

As opposed to just dropping off the car at Rad Rides By Troy, Gordon took on his Z as a true DIY project, putting his aircraft mechanic skills to the test on something other than Learjets. By October 2010, he’d completed the Godzilla-spec heart transplant, yanking the seized L-series engine and dropping in a 2.6L twin-turbo inline-six from an R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R using McKinney Motorsports engine mounts. By June 2011, he had it on the road, but in a condition far away from what you see here. As Gordon’s build thread on nicoclub.com shows (username: gmac708), there was a lot of custom work involved before turning the ignition key, including fabricating the intercooler piping as well as sorting out the cooling system, gas tank, plumbing, and the “Frankenstein to 240Z wiring harness.”

“The first time I showed up with it on the road was for a car detailing clinic that the local Z car club, ZROC, was putting on,” Gordon said. “The car still was not painted, just old Bondo and primer, no side windows or door panels. The dash was out and all sorts of the new gauges were stuck in a cardboard box lid mounted on the heater core. A sight for sore eyes. I found myself so proud to finally take her out on your waya long time after this that he had the auto out because of its first of many track days, where he dialed from the suspension. “My first goal was to find the car running as a good track car, as Gordon explained. I believe I achieved that. I went overkill on the drivetrain to support major upgrades towards the engine at a later time. My next version from the engine will hopefully be around 500 to 600 horsepower. Everything I have installed should support that without having changes for the drivetrain, and then there is plenty of room for more.”

Not that 360 whp from the stock RB26DETT is anything to sneeze at, especially when you mount it in a lightweight 240Z (by using a factory curb weight around 2,350 pounds). By using a better power-to-weight ratio when compared to a Corvette Z06, Gordon’s S30 is already a significant rocket ship, so to ensure chassis handling and stiffness to support its newfound thrust, upgrades including Bad Dog framerail reinforcement, a custom rollbar from Defined Autoworks, custom coilovers with Ground Control camber plates, and a bunch of other suspension goodies from Arizona Z and Techno Toy Tuning were installed. And, needless to say, the brakes have also been upgraded, using Toyota 4Runner 4- piston front calipers and Z32 vented front rotors as well asAs soon as the time finally came to give the exterior of his Z a refresh, Gordon drew most of his inspiration from builds found on the Hybrid Z forum. “I do not think I have done anything that is not done before; it’s only the combination of parts that I liked best containing made the automobile perfect if you ask me, as he explained. Everybody is different. What I like may not be attractive to you. Some big decisions for me were the fender mirrors and headlight lens covers. I used to keep it simple.”

That’s what exactly Gordon did when fitting the ZG fender flares, a necessary step to clear the aggressively offset Watanabe wheels covered with Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus rubber, though tubbing the fenders isn’t exactly simple. After that, he spent some time fitting and customizing the fiberglass front air Beta and dam Motorsports carbon-fiber hood before dropping off Betzy (Gordon’s pet term for the car) at his friend Jim McCray’s place, who painted it in his home garage.

As Gordon input it, “Forty years of door dings and bumps and scrapes had taken their toll on the old girl. Jim worked his magic and got everything looking perfect. That took seven months. I put everything back together again August of last year. Thus far, I have put over 10,000 miles on the car. I drive it everywhere.” And also everywhere, he means not just to the food store or local car meet, but also around his favorite racetracks and down the Tail of the Dragon, experiences that no doubt make your four-year DIY transformation even more rewarding for Gordon and his car-crazy kids.stub and hub axles, custom modified front and rear struts with spring perches, Eibach springs, Tokico Illumina adjustable shocks, Ground Control camber plates (f/r), Suspension Techniques sway bars (f/r), Arizona Z billet moustache bar with rear sway bar mount, solid front diff pinion mount, and bumpsteer spacers with shorter control arms; Techno Toy Tuning adjustable control arms (f/r)

Interior Kameari GT seats with custom seat rails, Takata 4-point harnesses, Speedhut Revolution gauges

Exterior Bad Dog framerail reinforcement, custom Defined Autoworks rollbar, Beta Motorsports carbon-fiber hood with inner frame, custom fiberglass front air dam, tubbed front and rear fenders with ZG fender flares, BRE-style rear spoiler

Special Thanks Defined Autoworks for rollbar and exhaust fabrication and my pal Jim McCray for the body- and paintwork.

Expert Service, Expert Care


When you buy a Fiat, it’s nice to know that you can bring it back to the dealership anytime you need to for routine maintenance and basic service and repairs. For many people, going to a dealership’s service center is a foreign idea, something they’ve never done, even if they’ve had lots of new cars in their lifetime. But the benefits of taking your car back to the service center are myriad. The people who work in the fiat dealership Los Angeles center are absolute experts in their field. They spend every day working on Fiats, and they’ll know your car better than anyone else you could possibly take it to.


For some people, bringing their Fiat in to the service center is simply a matter of making sure they adhere to the terms of their warranty because many new car policies require routine care to take place at the dealership. This ensures that the car is being checked by experts and that any issues can potentially be recognized and diagnosed before they become problematic for the car or driver. Bringing your car in for routine maintenance will help to keep it in the best shape possible for as long as possible. Taking care of basic things like oil changes and tire rotations will help keep it operating at its best and save you time and money in the future. Vehicles that are taken care of by experts on time in their early years tend to last longer and can be driven for decades. You’ll thank yourself later for letting someone who truly knows your vehicle be the one to work on it. Bring your car by the service center or visit the OC Fiat website to set up a time to come in for maintenance.

Hole Shot: Express Yourself


From the very first moment I saw my cousins lowering their cars in my parents’ driveway during the late ‘80s, I knew it absolutely was more than just a bunch of punk asses wanting to go out and cruise the streets just for fun. bumpy, low and loud as they were, this was a form of “cool” for them, a way to show their peers that these cars represented a piece of who these were as low. While they only had limited options to actually modify (we’re talking wheels, cut springs, an air an, filter and muffler aftermarket head unit) compared to the things you see in Super Street today, their stories are no different than the generations who came before and those that have yet to be told. All that money spent, the horsepower gained, the shit talking endured to have wheels that happen to be just too wide with rubber so thin as well as the fix-it tickets received are what comes along with the territory of planning to be your identiity. For those of you reading who can relate, it’s one of the primary outlets I will think of, though no, the hobby of tricking cars out as a form of self-expression is nothing revolutionary.

Personalities shine through once you look at rows of cars at a meet or show. You can’t break down nationality, race or sex-and it doesn’t really matter. If someone’s into simple and easy clean or perhaps is a JDM purist-or maybe they’re none of that and care only to spend the kind of dough that’s gonna put them into the 9-second mark on the drag strip with out a care with regards to how the car looks, you know. Dig a little bit deeper if you want (not that you need to) and you’ll find people who are just as obsessive about other things in your life and devote just as much passion as they would to their cars, just because they think doing and being the best in anything you do is what will separate you from the rest at the end of the day. That’s things i love about cars that literally brings people together; you can be who you really are, make your car what you want it to be and be respected for it (not always the case, but never let that bring you down). This issue is stuffed with personality, as you’ll soon see…

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1974 Toyota Corolla Sprinter KE20 – Frankensprinter


We love new technology because it’s able to squeeze out every last horsepower or fraction of a G in a way that old steel just wasn’t created to do. In part because its style has a certain charm, but also because it’s so damned light-you need to be trying hard to find a pre-1975 Japanese car available in America that weighs greater than a ton, yet we love old J-tin. And mostly we like melding both together seamlessly; old-school metal hiding a number of freaky late-model performance pieces that feel and operate like it’s all one piece, rather than a assortment of components performing a dance collectively. Shock of shocks, we like Ver Jumamoy’s ’74 Toyota KE20 Corolla.

California-based ER nurse has taken the guts of a Hachi-Roku and grafted them into the shell of a KE20 Sprinter-not least of which because that engine is much more than any factory-built AE86 ever got, it would oversimplify things dramatically to surmise that the Fairfield. But there’s an awful lot of Hachi under there. Dare we refer to this one a shichi-shi (74)? Monkets (20)? We settled on Frankensprinter-because the engine under that hood can be a monster for now.Oh, it’s a 4A-GE, all right, but it’s this sort of different animal than what arrived on American shores in the mid-’80s in Toyota’s MR2 and Corolla GT-S so you’d hardly recognize it. The second-generation five-valver, known as the black-top for its black cam covers, is the ultimate naturally-aspirated iteration of Toyota’s iron-block, aluminum-headed A-series engine, which goes back to the late 1970s. By 1983, the 4A-GE had replaced the long-lived 2-TG as Toyota’s volume-production twin-cam engine. Yamaha, who had done cylinder head work with Toyota clear back to the twin-cam 2000GT of 1967, designed the aluminum five-valve (three intake, two exhaust) head following their Formula One efforts in the late ’80s. The 5-valve 4A-GE can be neatly split into early (silver-top, starting 1991) and later (black-top, starting 1995) generations; everything you see here is the hairier black-top piece.

Why is it so? For the black-top version, the reciprocating assembly was put on a diet, weighing less and spinning more freely than earlier four-valve (and even silver-top five-valve) components could. Aiding in the black-top’s effort were four individual 45mm throttle bodies, a MAP sensor, velocity stacks and a whopping 11: 1 compression. Mix in variable timing on the 8.2mm-lift intake camshaft, a tubular exhaust header and also the black-top beats both horsepower and torque figures from previous four-valve 4A-GEs, plus it can sustain revs longer at the same time. The result? According to Toyota, roughly double what the hottest 1974 Corolla SR5 will have had beneath its hood Stateside, nearly 165hp at 7800rpm. Plus, let’s tell the truth: It’s a dead sexy piece of kit, because the five-valve 4A-GE never managed to get out of Japan.

1974 toyota corolla sprinter KE20 ISP custom high rise header 12

1974 toyota corolla sprinter KE20 TOMs controls 07

1974 toyota corolla sprinter KE20 front grille badge 03

But then we have into the reinforcements, which are all the bits needed to bolster that power doubling. It’s fair to say that the stock K50 five-speed stick could easily have been outmatched-cue sounds of grinding (or worse, stripped) gears. Within its place goes the AE86’s standard-issue cog-swapper, Toyota’s T50 five-speed, that offers identical gear ratios. It also has a wide variety of suitability upgrades, like TRD shifters and aftermarket clutches and six-pound flywheels. That power then has to go out to the rear tires, and that spindly little axle under a stock ’74 Corolla won’t take the pressure; far easier to merely drop a complete AE86 axle onto the re-arched rear leafs, to incorporate a restricted-slip, beefier axles, and of course the rear disc brakes that were parcel and part of your GT-S back into the day. Granted, they were barely nine inches in diameter, and front discs take more of the abuse when you step on that middle pedal, but it’s still a tremendous upgrade.

And also the rear disc brakes coming along for your ride around the ends in the axle housing, it would be silly not to upgrade the fronts as well; hello Hachi! May as well include the master cylinder and power brake booster from an AE86 too, while we’re at the yard stripping out parts. tires and Wheels are sized up significantly from stock-195/50-15 rubber compared to a stock AE86’s 185/60R14 and a 175/70-13 tire that was the biggest you could find on a ’74 Corolla-but the 15s do are able to fill out the KE20’s significantly smaller wheel openings quite nicely without looking too big. The 4-point cage stiffens the unit-body structure significantly; it adds a few pounds, granted, but it’s a small price to fund feeling that chassis stay flat during aggressive cornering, as a bonus.The entire body has largely been left alone: some mild flares for the oversized rolling stock, a chin spoiler, a trunk lip, a fresh coat of red paint, exchanging the massive 1974 federally-mandated 5mph crash bumpers for something a bit older (smaller, and built to bolt on) and fare thee well. No two-toning, no pinstriping, no lettering, not even a pair of Japan-spec fender mirrors to pretend that this is some kind of overseas creation celebrating a past that never quite was.

And so the heart and soul of an AE86 has been poured into a KE20 shell. So what? First, when you double the effectiveness of anything, it’s bound to be a shedload of fun, as we’ve proven time and again. With regards to chassis components, think of it by doing this: they’re largely stock AE86 underneath, but they’re meant for a vehicle that weighs some 450 pounds over the car they came off. The brakes that stop an AE86 just great suddenly become a whole lot more dramatic, stretching you against those five-point harnesses that are thoughtfully installed in the interior, when there’s a quarter-ton less steel to stop. The tires, just an inch bigger in diameter and 10mm wider across the tread that would have given an AE86 a whole new attitude, now practically suck brain matter out your ears in the turns. And that’s not even with the coilovers, or maybe the tough stance aided by re-arching the back leaf springs.

Better still is the perception of turnkey reliability. We all know that aftermarket parts can be used to make our cars run better, and that they’re generally compatible with whatever factory components they have to work with. However they are they compatible with each other? It’s a bit of a crapshoot. By sticking with Toyota components for the driveline and keeping items in a single brand family for certain other components (the all-Techno Toy front suspension, for instance) there are precious few worries that tab A won’t fit into slot B because that slot is instead a hole drilled 4cm to the righteven when you’re coping with OEM parts, things are simple. There will be a lot of issues that are included with a build, Ver suggests. Expect them. Also be prepared to spend some money; it’ll be expensive! And not surprisingly enough, time-consuming: he estimates his KE20/AE86 hybrid took 3 years to get to the idea you see here.

But when you’re out for the cruise, enough time invested along with the dollars spent disappear from your mind. Only the performance, the best times and the artifact itself remains; the design on the other guy’s face as he disappears in your rear view mirror, on the other hand, is priceless.