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Techo Pro Spirits 4age 1.6 N/a Race Engine.


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One crisp bright January morning, whilst trawling through Tokyo's auctions for cars to buy for stock - my colleague Gareth & I came across this AE86....I'd been on the lookout for a top example for 3 months...

Opening the bonnet, my pulse quickened at the sight of a pair of twin 45 Mikuni carbs, a full uprated exhaust system, MSD ignition system, TRD suspension, 14" Deep dish Watanabes, Full roll cage, Bride bucket seat, Bodywork was perfect too - I just had to have it....!

Having recently sold my S2000 daily driver to buy something more sensible and less costly, this was it, I thought!!

The carbs were so badly out of balance it would backfire and splutter, but that just made me relish the thought of tuning it, even more...!

Over the next few months, I went Corolla Levin Crazy, spending much of my spare time either on the net and reading through AE86 books and catalogues in Japanese stores to find out about how best to tune it, then buying parts for it and fitting them... On went a 13 row Grex Oil cooler kit with remote filter, a double capacity racing radiator and for good measure - a Billion 12" electric radiator fan with a Greddy multi controller to do away with the power sapping mechanical item fitted as standard. The standard gauges came out and in place of these went a custom Defi Gauge carbon fibre instrument panel, housed neatly inside the original instrument binacle - which I'd spent 20 evening hours making. An Apexi Rev Speed meter would go on later.. I changed all four brake discs, then still not happy, I fitted RX-7 2nd generation 4 piston front brakes and callipers, braided hoses and a master cylinder brace. The differential wasn't locked up enough for drifting with a worn out 1.5 way LSD, so on went a new TRD 2 way unit complete with special shims, so it would lock earlier. Gearing for the final drive was already heavily lowered and the clutch a Toda Racing 2 way unit, with a lightweight flywheel...

I went out drifting again.... Power was still not enough with lost of hesitation and spluttering. By chance, I found a pair of Toda Racing 208 and 304 degree 7.9mm (standard lift) camshafts for sale second hand, although unused. Bought & fitted them complete with Toyota Yaris one piece bucket shims all set to perfection, but found the car was still not quick enough. Worse still, the carbs were still nigh on impossible to set perfectly and it would splutter at low revs, or high revs depending on the jets used - as well as bogging down badly at low revs in higher gears, making it difficult to keep on a slide, when drifting... In frustration, I began to think I needed some more professional tuning help from someone who knew these well. There's no substitute for years of experience...

I called up Toshio Kumakura, who I'd met at Tokyo Auto Salon a couple of years back remembering I'd kept his business card as I'd been truly impressed with his Corolla demo car as well as his Tsukuba lap times... Kumakura runs Techno Pro Spirits in Saitama prefecture - probably the most respected 4AGE engine tuner of all in Japan, He's a total AE86 nut.

Drove the car some 2 hours to get there. We talked about the carbs. When he opened the bonnet the problem was immediately evident.... The inlet manifold was of an old & poor design, with curved and unequal length pipes from the carburettors to the inlet ports - a design fault caused because the designing engineer had wanted to avoid the carbs fouling on the brake master cylinder. This would have to be binned. A new straight pipe'd Toda Racing inlet manifold would cure the difficulties in setting up the carbs.

"How much power should it give with all the settings I have now, then", I asked...

"You've got a 1st generation low compression engine, so if it's healthy, it'll make around 145 bhp", they told me.... We discussed the carbs...

"They're around 20 years old. Parts for these are scarce nowadays as they haven't been manufactured for over a decade. Maybe think of changing for a set of flat slides..." a cool cost of £1,500 odd....!

Yikes, I thought. 145 bhp. That's all? Hmmm, if I'm going to spend that much, it's still not enough power. I'll definitely want more.......

"Aren't throttle bodies going to be better than flat slides with high lift long duration cams", I asked?

So we kept talking. One thing led to another and I found myself asking for a quotation for a genuine 200 bhp hand built race engine with a 9,000 rpm rev limit. When they presented me with the bottom line, the price almost made me faint, is it was twice what the car had cost me, but I thought about it and persuaded myself it made sense.

"Hell, I'm not going to sell this car, ever - so I may as well get the best engine I can (barely) afford... Put me down for a that race engine, please".

Two weeks later, I bought a cheapo AE92 FWD Corolla Coupe with only 55,000km for £500 and sent it off to Techno Pro Spirits direct from the auction. All we wanted was the block and head, which are stronger than the earlier 4AGE engines. This engine was completely stripped. The head machined with 3 angle for inlet & 2 angle cut for exhaust valves, then gas flowed and fitted with TRD valve springs, one piece bucket shims, Toda Racing 304 Degree, 11mm high lift camshafts. A set of Corolla AE101 throttle bodies went on. The block was stripped, rebored, honed and high compression racing pistons together with AE101 Forged conrods, AE111 Crankshaft, found their way inside, all fully balanced. ARP studs and a metal head gasket were added, as well as a special baffle plate to add rigidity to the block. An AE111 Oil pump was also added for good measure. Uprated injectors are fed by a used MR2 turbo fuel pump.The 4 branch Cusco exhaust manifold the car had come with was junked in favour of an equal length Techno Pro Spirits item able to go around the air conditioning compressor and much other secret work added. Then Kumakura San sent me an e-mail, "Engine completed...we need your car now!"

This week I drove it there, with a smug smile of satisfaction in the anticipation that the hesitation and problems caused by that poxy manifold would be banished forever soon. I would have much more power with an engine responding cleanly with strong power from 4,000 rpm and a safe 9,250 rpm rev limit... Already, just 4 days later, the new motor's now fitted and they're working on the new engine bay wiring loom, so they can connect the Freedom ECU and map it..

I've opted to keep the air conditioning and power steering for now, as I'm a strong believer in making sure the car's drivable for daily use too. 38 Degrees and high humidity would turn a black coloured AE86 into a mobile sauna in Japanese summer weather...The Air con can't be used when the engine's switched on in anger, as it'll fail if used at high revs, but I can handle that... Besides, it's too hot in summer to race - trackdays are usually in the Spring, Autumn and winter.

Very soon, it'll be all done, so I can get on with running it in, then unleash on on the racetracks of Tsukuba and Mobara, as well as the local drifting roads on the outskirts of Tokyo. There's always going to be something left to do on it. I plan to get some decent matching bucket seats next and finish tidying the interior up. Also got a hydraulic handbrake kit complete with Shaken friendly mechanical linkage which I'll need to fit at some point, although the standard setup works OK right now, with Drift Spec pads. Also need to fit modifications to get more steering lock, as well as uprated front tie rods.

There's something special about these for me that nothing else can quite replace. Not even the 400 bhp + drift Silvia we currently have in stock has distracted me, nor our drift prepared S15 with 380 bhp. Watching these AE86's at drift events here in Japan and listening to their engines at full bore has always made me hanker after another one above any other drift machine.

This is now my 4th Corolla AE86 (Had 3 in the UK before I moved to Japan 7 years ago). By far this will be the best one.. So far it's cost just over what my S2000 returned, but hell - it'll be a lot more fun for sure!....My plans to pay off a large chunk of mortgage this year have been shelved for the 7th year running...Cars have had a bad effect on my (financial) health with no cure in sight yet, but conversely the high octane has been good for the heart.

The old engine will be donated to a young local drifter who works at a local petrol station. We always chat whenever I pull in. When he's not working, he's usually to be found somewhere under his car. All he'll need is a new manifold and he can have another 20 bhp, with only the time it'll take him to perform the mods.

Bodywork will probably be next. I can't help thinking that a shade of Lamborghini Pearlescent Orange wouldn't go amis with a full lightweight body.... Pics below.






How it was before...


Home Made Defi Gauge Panel...Apexi Rev Speed Meter to go on soon...!


How it looked when I first bought it:




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Nice car!

Do you know who made your rollcage? As I'm trying to work out what make mine is and it looks the same as yours, even the blue padding!


Possibly Cusco. Haven't looked into it too deeply though, to be honest.

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Hmm CUSCO makes sence on mine really with amount of other CUSCO parts on mine and the blue foam goes with the rest.

Will have to take foam off and see If I can find a sticker on it saying who made it etc.


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