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Thread: 87 Corolla FX16 GTS Track Toy Build

  1. #51


    Pretty awesome/different build. Keep up the good work.

  2. #52


    Since the weather was nice, I took the Corolla out for a drive around town after work one evening and spotted this rad mural. I pulled over for a little photo-op.

    Looking at that picture made me realize again how freakishly high the car looks even with the factory GTS side skirts. Since work is crazy slow right now with the COVID situation, I pulled the car in during the workday and make some side skirt extensions.

    I think it makes the car look much nicer, and should help a little with aero too, maybe?

    A friend of mine kindly donated a spare transmission he had laying around with a slightly broken case. It's out of an AE92 GTS so it should be a little bit more stout and have a better ratio than the one in my car.

    Using a paint pen, I made marks on the axle stub and input shaft so I could count the turns by gear to try and figure out the final drive.

    Using the tips from this article and linked excel sheet, I verified that this is indeed a 4.3 final drive C52. After running the numbers on the trans currently in my car, I confirmed that it's currently a 3.7 final drive C50/51. The current trans is from a Chevy Nova TwinCam so I had no way of knowing the ratio without testing it, though I had long suspected this to be the case.

    Here's the broken part of the case - not too terrible. This is where the bracket for the rear mount bolts up. I extracted the broken bolt successfully but the broken part needs work.

    Here's where the slave cylinder bolts up. One bolt came out fine, but the other had to be drilled and re-tapped.

    A few minutes with a wire wheel got the majority of the scale off and had it looking much shinier than before.

    I decided to take the trans to work and try my hand with the aluminum welder there to repair the broken spot. My goal was just to add material enough that it would support a through bolt, at least in a lateral direction.

    I don't trust the added material to hold threads, so some kind of nut will be welded to the inside of the housing. Fortunately the hole ends inside the un-used rear starter hump (this trans has provisions for two starter locations) so there is room to work without hitting the flywheel.

    On another note, the passenger mirror glass was flopping around a lot and was basically un-usable, so I figured maybe it came un-clipped. I gave it a little press back into it's spot and it rewarded me with a nice *CRACK*.

    Rather than try and replace it, I took the opportunity to ditch the surprisingly heavy power mirrors (the only power option on this car) and block off the holes.

    Saves on weight and drag!

    To replace them, I put in a cheap wink-style segmented mirror from Summit Racing. This should give me enough of a panorama that I might be able to get away without the side mirrors.

    Unfortunately it did come in with one broken panel, but some glue had it back together good enough.

    As for what's next, I have no idea. All the events keep getting canceled so I might just do some preventative maintenance on the car - timing belt, oil pump, oil cooler lines, stuff like that - since I have plenty of time now and parts aren't too expensive.

  3. #53
    Join Date
    Nov 2011


    you have no idea how glad I am that this build is still going.

    𝔣𝔬𝔩𝔩𝔬𝔴 𝔪𝔢

  4. #54


    Quote Originally Posted by rice4life View Post
    you have no idea how glad I am that this build is still going.
    Thanks for the kind words! With so few of these cars out there, detailed FX16 projects are basically non-existent. I'm glad some people find it interesting, or at the very least entertaining.

  5. #55


    With basically every event getting cancelled, I decided to go ahead and do some preventative maintenance to make sure that, when things do open back up, the car will make it through a weekend with no issues. Timing belt, tensioner pulley, cam and crank seals, oil pump, dipstick o-ring, and crank pulley woodruff key are all getting replaced.

    While the car is down, why not go ahead and fill the side mounts with some polyurethane to fill those stock rubber voids? Leftover urethane was poured into a soda can.

    Right away I ran into an issue removing the old woodruff key. Solution? Slot some flat steel and weld that crap up.

    Works like a dream. The keys are only like $3 from the dealership, and I always like to replace them when doing this kind of job. It's cheap and could prevent lots of headaches down the line.

    Remember how I said I poured the leftover poly into a soda can? As luck would have it that's the exact diameter of the front and rear mounts with the rubber removed. So these full poly-converted spares will be replacing the frankenstein hybrid ones in there now.

    As I feared, this oil pump looks to be the original 250k mile unit. The early production pumps have these squared-off teeth that like to crack and shatter with lots of high RPM use. Revised replacements have rounder teeth with fewer stress points that tend to last much longer on track.

    While the pan was out I also happened to notice that one of the rivets holding the trap door on the TwosRUs baffles had separated, with both pieces chilling in the bottom of the pan. I replaced it with a new rivet.

    I hope to make some more progress this week if time allows. Some fun exhaust stuff and maybe relocating the oil temp sensor may be in the cards as well.

  6. #56


    Did you know you can get v-band flanges for like $12 on Amazon? Up until this point my entire exhaust from downpipe to muffler tip has been one solid piece, which makes dropping the oil pan super awkward.

    With this flange installed after the resonator, I can remove the forward third of the exhaust to make things much easier. With the exhaust re-installed and the engine buttoned up, the car started right up no problems!

    While not specifically part of the FX16 project, I did pick up a new project this week in the form of a double axle trailer. It's a home made trailer from the 80's and it needs a ton of work, but I think it will work great for my uses. Fortunately it seems like getting a VIN and title for a home-built trailer seems like a fairly straight forward process with the DMV, so ideally I'd love to have this done by the October VIR event.

  7. #57
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Riverside, CA


    brings back the days of old when i had my 86 corolla

  8. #58


    Not a whole lot of new stuff going on with the Corolla right now since I've been working on restoring the trailer, though I did do my first full-solo track day at Dominion back in July and set my personal best time. Unfortunately my GoPro's battery shit the bed so I only have the video from my phone while it was running the TrackAddict app, with no audio.

    Though I did finally finish the trailer with just two weeks to spare before VIR!


  9. #59


    Less of a "build" update and more of a life goal update - here's my post about going to VIR

    I **** job interviews. It's not so much the pressure of impressing the person interviewing you, it's when they inevitably ask some variant of my least favorite question of all time: "what are your goals in life?", "where do you see yourself in five years?" or something like that. I've never really had much of an answer for those questions. But one goal has been persistent in my mine for over a decade now - and this weekend I was able to fulfill that goal. I finally drove on track at Virginia International Raceway.

    It's been a very long road to get here. Ever since my very first autocross back in 2008 at Langley Speedway, I'd dreamed about getting on track.

    In 2009 some friends and I made our first pilgrimage to Hyperfest at Summit Point and watched in awe as drifters and track cars tore it up all weekend.

    In early 2010 I did a circuitcross event on Patriot Course at VIR. It was a rough introduction to the road course world, as my alternator decided to die on the way home, stranding my dad and I on the side of the road - more than 2 hours from home - in the rain.

    Not to be dissuaded, I made another road course attempt in the fall of 2010 - this time a Hyperdrive session at Summit Point. I made it all of 8 laps in before a leaky head gasket displaced my coolant with compression and I got black flagged for dropping fluids.

    After two back-to-back failures leaving me either stranded, or very nearly stranded 3 hours from home, I pretty much gave up on road course racing and stuck to autocross. It just didn't seem like it was meant to be. For a time...

    In 2016 we made another pilgrimage to Hyperfest - but this time instead of being at Summit point, it was at VIR. Even though I wasn't driving, I was reminded of how amazing that place is. It was that year that I made the life-changing decision to ride as a passenger in a friend's Miata as he did laps on VIR's Full Course. I was instantly and unshakably hooked.

    Within a year, I sold my Cressida wagon and bought a Corolla with the explicit intention of turning it into a track toy.

    Less than a year after getting the car, I started running trackcross events at nearby newly-opened Dominion Raceway, with HPDE to follow soon thereafter.

    It was awesome to see myself gain confidence in the car, as well as watching my friends skills improve at the same time.

    Once I acquired a tow vehicle, whole new realms of possibility opened up. I was finally ready to brave the trek back to VIR and signed up for my first HPDE in March 2020. Unfortunately fate had other plans. When the COVID pandemic started, the VIR track day got pushed back over and over until finally the only date left was in October.

    The extra time was used wisely however. I bought a very cheap, very rusty used trailer and spent over four months restoring it.

    The trailer was completed a week or so before the big day. It was an insane amount of work, but the freedom to tow my car wherever, whenever was more than worth it.

    It was a bit surreal following Eric and his Miata down to the track, as it was that very car which I had ridden in years before that was the inspiration for all of this.

    We set up our spot in the paddock and I retired to my room for the weekend - an air mattress in the back of the 4Runner. This setup was actually a key factor in choosing the 4Runner as a tow vehicle. The combination of the roll-down rear window and fold-flat rear seats makes for a great camper.

    The next morning brought a beautiful sunrise over a cold, dew-damp track. Unfortunately those conditions lead to a few crashes in the first few sessions of the day with some higher-horsepower cars.

    Not particularly eager to follow suit, I sought out some air to raise the tire pressures which had fallen in the cold.

    Then after meeting my instructor, Rick, in grid - we were out on track. Finally, after all these years I was finally driving at VIR.

    This track was everything I hoped for. The Rising Esses, Oak Tree, Roller Coaster, it was so surreal to finally be driving through these turns I had seen before in video games or from the passenger seat. I only wish I had been able to do it sooner, before the Tree fell in 2013.

    All the prep paid off in a big way - the car performed flawlessly with zero mechanical issues all weekend. The only real negative was when I (along with several others) accidentally missed one of the classroom times on Saturday and had to sit out a session. Lesson learned there.

    After a check ride Sunday morning, Rick gave me approval for going out solo for the rest of the day. Being able to finish out the weekend solo and set my personal best time was just icing on the cake.

    Speaking of personal bests, here's the best lap I managed - a 2:32.02 (based on my iPhone's not-that-accurate GPS feeding the TrackAttack app). I also got a chance to roll across the scales and found out the car is roughly 200lb heavier than I originally thought - 2197lb without driver. I need to get more weight out of there!

    I know that was a very long, roundabout way of talking about what was essentially just a track weekend, but to me it was so much more. It was the realization of decade-long goal, and it could not have gone better. In conclusion I'd like to leave you with a quote that, more eloquently than I ever could, sums up this incredible place:

    "If there is a heaven on Earth, it is VIR."
    -Paul Newman

    Additional photography by Dylan Dupee and Eric Madsen

  10. #60
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Sofia, Bulgaria


    Very happy for you, for achieving your goal, that lap looks like a blast.
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  11. #61
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Lancashire, England


    Absolutely love this! Those side skirts make a world of difference to the overall aesthetic too!

  12. #62


    After a great weekend at VIR I jumped at the opportunity to finish out the season with NASA's Fall Finale at Summit Point.

    I had received a comment after VIR that the brake lights on my Corolla could be a bit difficult to see, so I decided to replace the janky OE third brake light with an LED unit. This particular one is from a VW Westfalia site of all places.

    I also took the opportunity to replace the tail light bulbs with LEDs as well. The difference in response is astounding. In the video, the bottom lamp is LED and the top is incandescent. That fraction of a second could make all the difference on track.

    The weekend started out with a bang when - 30 minutes into the drive to Summit - my trailer's axle rotated in its shackles and ripped out the wiring for the brakes. I showed up to Summit later than I had planned on Friday night and just grabbed the closest vacant paved spot I could. Temperatures dipped below freezing that night and the comforter I packed was not enough to keep warm in the back of the 4Runner. Looks like some kind removable of window curtain/insulation might be in the cards for a project before next season, as those cold nights are pretty brutal.

    My instructor was very helpful helping me re-learn the track - I had forgotten just about everything since the last time I drove here 10 years ago - and after a couple sessions she signed me off for solo. However on the last session of Saturday I got a little caught out by some.... less than predictable moves by a fellow driver. The video above shows it pretty well. The top screen is from my car, the bottom is from a friend's Fit that was two cars back.

    The near-miss must have shaken my confidence or concentration, because on the next lap I botched the braking zone for Turn 1 and took a little trip through the grass and a bit of a mud puddle. I decided to call it a day after that.

    Although the car was a bit muddy, nothing seemed to be broken, apart from my pride. Onward and upward, let's learn from this and not repeat it.

    Unfortunately the car seemed to have other plans. About 3/4 of the way through first session Sunday, I started smelling coolant and the temperature gauge started climbing. After pulling in the pits I couldn't find any obvious hose leaks, and all the coolant seemed to be coming from the water pump itself. My weekend - and therefore the season - was over.

    Here's the best lap I managed that weekend. Nothing special, but it is what it is.

    While I was a bit disappointed I didn't get to finish out the weekend, but over that I felt even more pride in myself for pulling a hat trick - all three "nearby" road courses in one season. I have a lot of work to do over the winter, but hopefully 2021 will see me back at each of these tracks, plus maybe a trip to NCCAR as well. Here's to next year!

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