A 90s Japanese Saloon That Goes More Than 200km/h - BIADAP's AE101 Corolla
There’s no better way to start these ‘Feature Cars’ articles than to first thank the owner of the vehicle. This time around I have to thank Mon from ‘biadap__’ for his time, his willingness to share his knowledge, and for the ride in the car.
(You may skip this tiny section to get straight to the Corolla)
‘Feature Cars’ is a new category where we do stories on cars that are more than ordinary. Different from ‘Car Reviews’ where basically stock new/used cars are reviewed. In ‘feature cars’ articles, things may get a little technical, but I believe you could find your way around with a little help from Google.
I understand that not many people actually read what I write and that’s totally fine. Some articles get less than 100 views, but sometimes we get lucky and hit more than 3,000 views per article. Regardless of the number of views, I will still be writing articles on cars on a regular basis because that’s just what I like to do. Of course, if I can support a living by doing this, that would be great.
OK. This is an AE101 Corolla with a few tricks up its sleeve. It has a 4A-GE 20-Valve“Black Top” engine with a 6-speed manual transmission and is capable of reaching speeds beyond what is shown on the speedometer. It also has quite a number of mixed and matched parts that only a trained eye would notice upon closer inspection. The tail lights & rear garnish, for example, are from a Holden Nova GS which is basically a rebadged Corolla in Australia. This is probably my favourite part of the car because it stands out next to the normal AE101 Corolla you get in Malaysia. If you squint your eyes hard enough, it kind of looks like an Opel Calibra from the rear (At least to me).
The front grille is from a BZ Touring AE101 Corolla and so is the “black top” engine with the 6-speed manual transmission. This conversion was a ‘plug and play’ conversion since the BZ Touring and the standard AE101 share the same platform. The front bumper is from a hatchback Corolla, the front lip is from a Honda Integra Type R DC2 (customized to fit the AE101), brakes are from a Nissan R32 GTS-T Type M, the side skirts are from a Toyota Corolla GT (Japan Limited Edition), and the rear lip is from an AE111 Carib. Despite a Frankenstein amount of mixing and matching, the car looks really well put (as if it came factory fitted) and rather subtle.
The Corolla in Malaysian Culture
The name ‘Corolla’ is derived from the name the ring of petals around the central part of a flower. Rather peculiar for a car name, eh? The name has been used by this humble model from Toyota since the 60s and has created a huge family in the Toyota line up. Being marketed as a compact car, the most famous of the Corolla models would be the AE86 which we featured before.
The AE101 is a considerably rare sight in 2018, let a lone a modified one. A stock AE101 is synonymous with conservative dads who choose to use the money to put their kids through college instead. You can find a stock or modified AE101 at around RM10,000 these days. Occasionally younger enthusiasts dabble with the AE101, but they tend to be less creative with the modifications.
Has this AE101 been taken to the track?
No. It’s too much of an investment. And Mon’s priorities have shifted a little.
Newer Corollas in Malaysia are not popular with young motorheads. I believe that when the Corolla Altis was launched, it just went for an entirely different demographic than the Levin Corolla days. If there were to be a replacement for a sporty Corolla for the youth in Malaysia, the place has been taken by the Vios. It is more affordable than the Corolla Altis, looks slightly youthful, and seems to have gained the attention of young enthusiasts. It has also been marketed with all the Gazoo Racing stuff so there’s a little hype to it. Just a little.
Swapping a 4A-FE for a 4A-GE “Black Top” (And Other Performance Mods)
This car originally came with a 4A-FE engine. The 4 denotes the 1600cc capacity, the A denotes the A engine family from Toyota, the F stands for “Fuel Efficiency” whereas the E is for “Electronic Fuel Injection”. This was swapped with a “Black Top” Engine which is also an A series engine, the 4A-GE. The "G" stands for performance (In the Toyota Engine line up). The 4A-GE 20-Valve “Black Top”, by default, churns out 163hp which is 49hp more than what the 4A-FE was delivering. The 4A-GE is factory fitted with semi-forged pistons, stronger con-rods, and a cast iron. And did I mention it has 20 valves? That's 5 per cylinder, 3 for the intake and 2 for the exhaust. That's a lot of valves.
The 4A-FE also used a ‘slave
cam system’ which is not used in the 4A-GE. Both camshaft sprockets in the
4A-GE are driven by the timing belt. What am I talking about? Look at the
Pictured above is a ‘slave cam system’. Notice that the timing belt is only connected to one camshaft. The other cam becomes a ‘slave’ to the first camshaft, hence the name of the system. This is used in the 4A-FE.
In the 4A-GE, both camshaft sprockets are driven directly by the timing belt. Notice that the camshaft sprockets do not mesh with one another. Also notice that VVT (Variable Valve Timing) is used on the intake camshaft (Hint: It’s the sprocket on the left). This wouldn’t have been possible with the ‘Slave Cam System’.
The “Black Top” 4A-GE has a higher compression ratio (11:1) as compared to the 4A-FE’s 9.5:1 compression ratio. The 4A-FE was designed with fuel economy in mind, but not the 4A-GE “Black Top”. The “Black Top” has become a popular powerplant upgrade for earlier Corolla models, be it front-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive.
Does the “Black Top” have T-VIS?
No. But earlier 4A-GE engines do.
Is the “Black Top” turbocharged?
Is the “Black Top” supercharged?
No. But the 4A-GZE is.
Performance plug cables have been fit and an ARC airbox is in place. The last thing to notice was the aftermarket exhaust by HKS. There’s also a lot of grounding work done. Besides all of this, not much has been done in the engine bay. The engine swap was already a major procedure and has provided a significant upgrade anyway. As the owner said, he puts trust in the work that multiple teams of engineers have done to give the best output, efficiency, and reliability, from the engine. Hence no silly things have been done.
JASMA is not a brand. It stands for “Japanese Sports Muffler Association” which is a certification for exhaust systems that comply to certain standards.
A rear disc brake conversion has been done, but Mon feels like the extensive work didn’t deliver as much of a result as he expected. These front & rear disc brakes are from a Skyline R32 GTS-T Type M. There still is a drum brake going on behind the disc for the parking brake. ST202 back plates had to be used so ensure the parking brake works in the default manner. Why bother with such a conversion, you say? Well, all-round disc brakes are better for stopping, which is very important for a car capable of more than 200km/h. The AE101 runs semi slicks (Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R) for better grip.
Will we be seeing more changes?
Not anytime soon. The money needs to be spent somewhere else for now.
This AE101 is a Daily Driver...
…and it is evident in the amount of paint chips, slightly uneven panels, and scraped front lip. I have massive respect for that. The fact that you can live with this daily just comes to show how well thought the build is. It takes a certain level of grit and persistence to risk damaging your precious car on a daily basis. Mon is constantly praying nobody rear ends the Corolla since the Holden Nova rear garnish is rather hard to come by. The car was originally painted silver and has been repainted black. However, the car has started to shed the black paint at its own will. Standard wear and tear of a daily driver, I suppose.
Take A Look Inside
Things are virtually untouched on the inside. Besides the aftermarket steering wheel and radio unit, a semi-bucket seat is installed for the driver. The bucket seat was distributed by Toyota in the aftermarket space. Everything else is untouched, including the door trims, which are in mint condition. It really takes you back to the 90s. This sort of fabric pattern only exists on bus seats these days. Cars have adopted a cleaner, usually dark look when it comes to fabric choice.
Instrument controls have become more standard. Remember the AE86’s interior? It was slightly quirky with the wiper knob control. (AE86 Article). The dash centre is angled towards the driver and the overall interior feel is better than a 90s Proton Wira. The gauge cluster features a battery voltage gauge which is useful in an older car like this.
Power windows were a luxury back then.
Decent interior for the 90s.
This is a traditional car for 2018. The throttle is mechanical, the power steering is hydraulic, it runs a manual transmission, and it has fabric trims from a bus seat. Non-car enthusiasts wouldn’t take a second look at this car. But it’s a 6-speed manual Japanese car capable of speeds beyond 200km/h. And you can take 4 people to enjoy that with you.
That’s pretty rad.
A recent problem was a failed O2 sensor, but Mon got it sorted out by diagnosing the problem himself.
Should you get an AE101 as a project car?
If you’re already considering a 90s front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 4-cylinder car, the AE101 is a possible alternative to a Proton Wira(lution), a 90s Civic, or a 90s Sentra.
After a little pondering, it also got to me just how slow Proton must have been in adapting to new technology. Toyota’s VVT was introduced in 1991 with the “Silver Top” 4A-GE. Proton’s Campro VVT was introduced in 2014. That’s 23 years apart. Toyota’s T-VIS was introduced way back in 1983. Proton’s IAFM was introduced in 2008. That’s 25 years apart. If that says anything, my guess is Proton’s hybrid would also be 20 something years apart from Toyota’s Hybrid. If Toyota’s Prius was first launched in 1997, then Proton’s Hybrid might just be out in 2020 or 2022. Who knows?
*VVT: Variable Valve Timing
T-VIS: Toyota Variable Induction System
IAFM: Intake Air-Fuel Module
Thanks again to Mon from biadap__.