Twelve years and several conversions, this Corolla is still one of the best.
If you’re like most enthusiasts, you’ve owned quite a few cars over the years. When we’re talking about a decade or more, you can sell something to get your next project, or be forced to give up a chassis to make room, not a Ka Wong. He stuck with his 1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S year after year, and during that time he managed to refine his design and avoid falling into the usual excess waters.
Twelve years ago, we brought you an article about Wong’s creation, which, even by today’s standards, would definitely stand out from the growing Restomod Corollas crowd. While the car still features some of the original parts that made it so tasty more than a decade ago, the evolution that has occurred since then forces us to revisit this unique build.
After his fully built Evo reached a level that was annoying to drive on the road, originally purchased as an everyday car, the Corolla did what the Corolla did and became a full-fledged project. The switch came after Huang liked to hit local ravines and take advantage of the car’s light and nimble chassis, believing it needed more power to be more fun. He added: “I watched a Hot Version video and saw King Keiichi driving a Corolla with a swapped S2000 engine and he said he really liked it.” That’s how he settled down on the Rangers’ advice to make a decision Full time Taka Aono, Wong turned to JSP Fab.
At the time, JSP developed an easy-to-use bolt-on kit for a Honda-Toyota collaboration, and when it was done, the performance was there — but lacking in looks. It gets a complete exterior makeover by Auto Explosion, including fender flares and a striking PPG Spicy Orange paint job. Wong has enjoyed his off-road adventures over the years and has appeared regularly at events such as the Japan Classic Car Show.
After meeting friends along the way, Huang joined them at an auto show in Del Mar, and the event left a deep impression on him. “It completely changed my perception of how the car looked,” he recalls. “With the help of my now-good friend, we rebuilt everything on the car.” The engine bay was the first order to replace or polish the under-hood parts on a daily basis, and the overall organization was enhanced, although it would be revised one more time. Chuy’s Auto Upholstery redesigned the Alcantara’s interior with orange stitching, so Wong’s friend Randy stepped in to design and install the sound system.
The Corolla was lifted and the wheels and suspension removed so that the landing gear could be thoroughly cleaned before a new primer was applied, and the suspension components were sent for powder coating or polishing. When finished, the car was reassembled to look to match Huang’s vision, but something was still missing. “I just wasn’t satisfied. So I took the car back to JSP for a custom turbo setup,” he said.
JSP’s John Russakoff built a custom turbo manifold to suspend HKS 3037s and GT2 wastegates. He then designed the intricate line of circular titanium intercoolers in and out of the HKS S-type intercoolers. Lastly is the downpipe and exhaust hose to the GReddy DD muffler. A 255 l/h Walbro fuel pump delivers fuel to the RC 750cc injectors through an AEM filter and regulator. While the car was there, the Haltech ECU was installed and the car was shipped to Rywire Motorsport Electronics for a custom engine wiring harness. The result is a simple 400 horsepower with engine functions fully displayed through the Racepak’s digital instrument panel.
That power is sent to an S2000 transmission that features an OS Giken dual-disc clutch, lightweight flywheel, and bi-directional limited slip. The custom driveshaft is connected by the Supra rear shell, which of course has been cleaned and powder coated. To slow things down, a large four-piston Endless brake kit was added, and the 15-inch TE37V that started the project still ages like fine wine as Volk Racing’s legendary road roller.
With the car running flawlessly and looking better than ever, the engine, transmission and all the custom factory work was removed. The dramatic changes in power saw Auto Explosion give the engine bay another makeover, this time removing any unnecessary tabs or holes before applying the new paint. Wong’s colleagues and friends from the R-RYDES crew stepped in to help with routing and brake lines, and to create custom headlight covers and radiator cooling plates.
Auto Explosion dived deeper, replacing the Run Free’s front bumper and Workshop Takumi’s vented dry carbon hood to update the look, and it didn’t stop there. The workshop added some very custom touches to the D-Max’s front fenders, turning them from a simple, widened and rear-ventilated setup into a swooping piece of art. The small air vents have been cut completely out of the fenders, the upper rear ends in a sharp scallop that meets the line between the fenders and the doors, and the lower rear consists of a pair of downwardly curved slats to Meet the newly moulded carbon face to meet the diffuser.
All of this work somehow flows perfectly into the Origin Lab rear fenders, which are moulded into TRD wings, cashew sports mirrors and the incredible Spicy Orange paint finish, all from The car’s original construction is carried over, albeit with an elegant two-tone finish on the paint. Along the underside of the car and a slight hood, Auto Explosion used the House of Kolor Root Beer, linking it with bright orange paint and delicate bronze wheels.
Taking a great build and reinventing it can be tricky. If you don’t do enough, it feels like you’re wasting time and money, and if you do too much, you lose the spirit of what you were trying to do in the first place. Ka Wong and his circle of friends found a way to make some awesome stuff even better without showing any signs of being superfluous, all for this “side hustle” that’s still fun 12 years later .
Connor Mason is a passionate automotive journalist and the author behind the popular website motonews.info. With years of experience in the automotive industry, Connor is well-versed in all things related to cars and motorcycles.