KE70 + 2JZ: A Frankenstein Project From Iceland

Once I traveled again to my residence nation of Iceland over summer season – partly to shoot some Speedhunters options – I by no means anticipated to obtain such a optimistic and welcoming response from the native modified automobile group. Doorways opened left, proper and heart, however for my fourth story I didn’t have to enterprise removed from my mum or dad’s home.

Grétar Örn Karlsson‘s 1980 Toyota Corolla DX drift automobile lives actually two minutes’ stroll away.


I met Grétar at Discodans in Sweden again in 2019. I had heard from buddies that a few Icelanders had been tearing up the racetrack at Eskilstuna the place the occasion was held, and needed to go and see them for myself. Grétar’s vivid yellow Corolla was being cooled down after an intense session, so naturally I requested for a ride-along within the subsequent one. Regardless of the rain pouring down, Grétar didn’t maintain again, and driving shotgun on this demonic Toyota stays one of many fondest recollections I’ve from that summer season.

So removed from my 2021 Iceland journey I’ve proven you a 2JZ-swapped E46 M3, an LS2 V8-swapped Porsche 944 Turbo, and a supercharged Ford V8-swapped Volvo 240. At this time, we’re going Japanese with Grétar’s Corolla – and sure, it’s been engine-swapped too.


Smaller Japanese sport coupes had been a typical sight in Iceland throughout the late-Nineteen Eighties to early-Nineteen Nineties, with automobiles just like the AE86 fashionable in rally circles. Rear-wheel drive Corollas are nonetheless getting used at the moment in a few of Iceland’s motorsport classes, however the identical factor can’t be mentioned about four-door Japanese sedans.


The Toyota KE70 is a really uncommon sight in Iceland, and since Grétar needed a singular platform to work with, his choice finally led him to buy this Corolla in 2009.

It was presupposed to be a straightforward undertaking, one thing Grétar might work on as a pastime in his spare time, however that considering didn’t final lengthy. Virtually instantly after buying the automobile, a drained 4A-GE engine from a retired AE86 was discovered, and all of the required elements to get it singing once more had been ordered.

However the 4A-GE by no means made it into the Corolla’s engine bay. Curiosity received the higher of Grétar, and after taking a fast journey in his pal’s AE86 and discovering that the 4A-GE’s energy was “restricted”, he started different choices.


Subsequent on the checklist was a CA18DET from a Nissan S13 200SX. This engine was dummy-fitted between the KE70’s entrance struts, however the story ends there, as operating it up revealed inner harm that made no monetary sense to restore.


Used efficiency engines aren’t simple to come back by in Iceland, however whereas the damaged CA18DET was a disappointment, Grétar brushed it off and moved on. After a brief seek for a possible candidate, a Volvo B230FT with matching M90 transmission was provided to him. This was outdoors Grétar’s authentic imaginative and prescient for the Corolla, however the extra he considered it, the extra the two.3L turbocharged four-cylinder from Sweden made sense.

Grétar made it work, finishing the KE70’s rebuild with all kinds of elements from totally different makes and fashions. How assorted? Effectively, the fuel tank is Jeep Wrangler fare; the rear finish was pulled from a Toyota Hilux; an S13 donated its entrance suspension, knuckles and management arms; and varied different elements got here from a Mitsubishi Pajero and Lancer Evolution, BMWs and a SsangYong.

Mainly, no matter half labored, Grétar used it. No marvel he calls this Corolla his “Frankenstein Venture”.


Grétar ran the Volvo engine setup for 3 years, and he believes it delivered someplace round 300 to 350whp. However within the winter of 2015, all the pieces modified.

Through the low season, Grétar eliminated the engine – which at this level had just a few points – with a purpose to tidy up the bay. The plan was to rebuild the B230FT, however on a whim, Grétar put the engine up on the market and ended up promoting it the identical day.


The Volvo engine had served Grétar effectively for probably the most half, however finally the problems it had impressed a change. This time round, Grétar returned to Toyota and the go-to engine for a lot of high-power drift setups. I’m, in fact, speaking in regards to the venerable 2JZ-GTE.

Grétar says the swap was fairly straight ahead, however in actuality, mounting the three.0L straight-six within the Corolla’s small bay required a {custom} cross member with strengthened mounts, a brand new firewall and transmission tunnel, and {custom} brackets for the steering rack.


As you’ll be able to see, the 2JZ is just not inventory. The unique twin turbochargers have been traded for a giant single Increase Lab BorgWarner S366SX, and contained in the engine now reside CP cast pistons and Manley cast connecting rods. The trunk-mounted gas system, operating twin AEM pumps, a {custom} surge tank and Aeromotive filters, provides the engine through 1,000cc Bosch injectors, with the entire shebang managed by a VEMS engine administration system. For cooling, there’s a rear-mounted radiator with a twin fan setup.


All informed, the engine construct and swap took round eight months to finish, however the outcomes made all of it worthwhile: 602whp that Grétar can beat on all day.


An enormous a part of that’s the bullet-proof driveline, which incorporates a BMW 6-speed transmission with PMC Motorsport adapter, a Tilton triple-plate clutch and the aforementioned Hilux differential, now operating a full spool and three.58:1 last drive.


Inside, the Corolla is all race automobile with a custom-welded roll cage that ties in entrance and rear suspension towers, Sparco seats with Racequip 6-point harnesses and {custom} shifter and handbrake levers that Grétar made himself. In actual fact, many of the work on this automobile is all his personal.


The suspension nonetheless makes use of the S13-based entrance setup with {custom} management arms and modified knuckles, and Nissan elements now characteristic within the rear too. As anticipated, the entrance brakes are S13 spec and the rears are Hilux. Grétar doesn’t know a lot in regards to the wheels, besides that the rear 6-lug pair “got here from an SUV”. 


If you happen to couldn’t inform already, Grétar is a function-first type of man. His excellent drift automobile isn’t one with elaborate physique modifications; it’s one that’s sensible. Customized fender flares to comprise the large wheel and tire combo, and do-it-yourself hood vents to assist relieve the engine bay of warmth are just about the extent of the outside upgrades. The paint is a Ferrari shade of yellow.


So what’s subsequent for this loopy little Corolla? Grétar has an extended checklist, beginning with a brand new flooring, adjustments to the roll cage to deliver it as much as FIA-spec, an S14 rear subframe swap, Ford 8.8-inch rear finish conversion and Driveshaft Store axles. However like different proprietor/drivers I’ve talked to in Iceland, a very powerful factor for Grétar proper now’s getting the automobile again to Europe.

When he does, I’m undoubtedly placing my hand up for an additional journey.

Alen Haseta
Instagram: hazetaa

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