Party in front, party in back: A V8 Turbo Corolla with a twist

Over the years, Toyota 1UZ-FE V8s have found their way into everything. From cars to boats to airplanes, the 4.0-liter, 32-valve quad-cam engine is as versatile as it gets. For owners of early to mid-1980s Corollas, the 1UZ has become an aftermarket favorite, and with good reason – it’s reliable, delivers decent power for the compact rear-wheel drive chassis and with a good exhaust system it sounds great.

These are all things that made Jason Vd Heever Thomas trade Toyota’s venerable V8 in his ’84 Corolla. But then he went one step further…

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Jason was introduced to the automotive hobby at a young age. His father Piet runs PPT Pro Billet, a manufacturer of billet parts for motorsport applications based in Gauteng, South Africa, with the broader company PPT Manufacturing, which offers a range of specialized engineering services including CNC turning and milling. Fast cars run in the family blood.

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“When I was 14, I couldn’t wait to finish school and watch my dad and his staff build a Corolla known as the ‘Rooi Kappie.'” says Jason. “Just being around her and seeing things being ripped apart and put back together with different parts made me know that one day I had to save up and own a Corolla myself.”

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Within a year, Jason made this possible. He sold his motorcycle and raised the extra money to buy this TE72 Toyota Corolla from a Johannesburg police officer. It was bone stock and in good condition having recently been repainted in its original baby blue colour.

Jason started driving the car to and from school every day in this form, not to mention the fact that he wasn’t of driving age yet. However, it wasn’t long before he decided the humble Corolla needed something more powerful than the 1.8-litre 3T engine Toyota had blessed it with. Jason found exactly what he was looking for in a 1UZ-FE V8 and its automatic transmission from a Lexus LS 400.

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The workshop had the Corolla’s 3T engine removed and the bay shaved and repainted before the 1UZ found its new home. “I was in heaven, 15 years old and driving my V8 Corolla to school.” says Jason.

However, not everyone shared Jason’s enthusiasm for the build. “I got a hard time from the teachers who didn’t allow me to bring the car onto school grounds because I like to burn out and didn’t have a valid driver’s license yet. But my dad – he’s a real ‘Lekker Toppie’ [great old man] – knew the people and the people knew him, so I was always off the hook.”

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The Corolla, which now sported 17-inch wheels and tires as well, stayed that way for a couple of years. Then Jason had another itch that needed scratching; His passion for fast street cars had really grown and it sounded like a great idea to give the 1UZ equation a boost.

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“Because my dad always tended to build things differently, I decided to power my Corolla in a different way.” says Jason. “Dad was in the US on a business trip at the time, so I sent him some photos of me holding the turbo on the back of the car. His response was straight to the point: “Any idea what kind of kak [sh*t] Job, is that?’”

Despite his father’s warning, Jason went for it. Nobody else had built a rear-mounted Turbo Corolla in South Africa, and Jason really liked the stealth nature, so he started mocking up pipes on the underside of the car to see how it might work.

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Eventually Piet came up with the idea and as the country went into Covid lockdown an opportunity arose to get the job done. The engine came out and was given full “PPT Recipe” Rebuild with forged pistons and rods, flooded heads and new cams.

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In the meantime, the Corolla itself has been stripped down to the bare bones and completely repainted, this time in Toyota Cosmic Blue – the same color as Piet’s Hilux Legend 50. Lenso Project D wheels also found their way onto the car via a 5x100mm bolt conversion.

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As you can see, three pipes run under the car – two stainless steel exhaust pipes that meet at the T67 turbocharger and an aluminum boost pipe that returns compressed air to the engine.

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A great deal of thought went into the manufacture of the underside and the quality of the custom finishing is truly second to none.

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Other engine modifications include a Bosch Motorsport fuel pump, Turbosmart FPR1200 fuel pressure regulator, Bosch 720cc injectors, custom 76mm throttle body for OEM intake, AEM water/methanol injection to cool the intake charge instead of one intercooler, an electric geared pump to return the oil from the turbo to the engine and Toyota 1NZ coil packs.

The engine is managed by a PowerMod control unit, which, when tuned to a boost pressure of 0.8 bar (11.7 psi), resulted in 350 kW (470 Whp) at 95 RON pump gas. Considering that the original 3T engine produced 45 WkW (60 Whp) and the naturally aspirated 1UZ produced 150 WkW (200 Whp), that’s a lot of power for the light Corolla.

It is also important that the engine runs cool. If the turbo was squeezed in next to the 1UZ, it probably wouldn’t be.

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Perhaps the best feature of all is the dummy air filter in the engine bay that caught one a lot of from people. Look closely and you can see the boost pipe underneath, which of course is that real air source.

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The powertrain, suspension and brakes were also modified to create a complete, bespoke road car package. There’s a Toyota M75 LSD diff with matched billet shafts, PPT Pro Billet coilovers on the front end, and Gabriel shocks with Tein E36 BMW height-adjustable rear springs in the back, plus Porsche Brembo calipers – 6-piston and 4-piston – which are on E46 clamp BMW M3 and E36 discs front and rear respectively. Jason’s love of burnouts has definitely not waned, hence the mechanical front wheel line lock.

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Inside, the Corolla was treated to a full black leather interior, a recoated dashboard and new carpets. There’s also a Corolla Twin Cam steering wheel, a PowerMod digital dash display, and a huge — but mostly hidden — Lightning Audio-based sound system.

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All in all, this last (for now) rebuild took nine months, with Jason – to his credit – doing around 90% of the work himself.

You might be wondering how it drives, and the answer is totally linear, with no boost lag, just lots of pull. If you want to see the Corolla in action (recommended), watch the video here.

brad mr
Instagram: speedhunters_brad

Photo of Stefan Kotze
Instagram: stefankotzemedia

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