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Thread: 87 Corolla FX16 GTS Track Toy Build

  1. #51

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

  2. #52

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    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.
    @thedailydownshift

  3. #53
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    2,449

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

    𝔣𝔬𝔩𝔩𝔬𝔴 𝔪𝔢
    @𝔳𝔦𝔳𝔢_𝔪𝔢𝔪𝔬𝔯_𝔩𝔢𝔱𝔦

  4. #54

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    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.
    @thedailydownshift

  5. #55

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    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.
    @thedailydownshift

  6. #56

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    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.
    @thedailydownshift

  7. #57
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Riverside, CA
    Posts
    5

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

  8. #58

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    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!

    @thedailydownshift

  9. #59

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    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
    @thedailydownshift

  10. #60
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Sofia, Bulgaria
    Posts
    285

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    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
    Location
    Lancashire, England
    Posts
    89

  12. #62

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    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!
    @thedailydownshift

  13. #63

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    Last season ended with a mildly successful, if not abruptly shortened weekend at Summit Point with a bumpy 4-wheels off at turn 1 and some overheating issues forcing me to shut it down Sunday morning. Over the winter some repairs were needed to get back into the swing of things.





    Turns out the coolant issue was not water pump related. The water outlet bolts had worked loose and that's what did it. Some new gaskets everywhere made short work of that issue.





    While I was in there, I went ahead and de-rusted the water pump inlet pipe and removed the barbs for the IACV coolant supply.





    With the Corolla holding coolant again, I decided to step up my trackside camping game with some portable power. This is the second smallest power pack Jackery makes, but so far it's been more than enough for my needs on a track weekend.





    I got to test it out in March at VIR, the first event of the 2021 season. Even after running the rope light for 4+ hours, charging my phone twice overnight, and inflating/deflating my air mattress twice, in near-freezing temperatures, the Jackery was only down to like 75% capacity. Absolutely a worthwhile purchase.





    Here's the speed map from the March event. I was still struggling with rear wheel lock-up and turned the right rear tire into an octagon. Here's some takeaways from the weekend I wrote down at the time:


    1. I feel much more comfortable and less nervous on track, though I do still have to remind myself to breathe before the climbing esses. Those will never be comfortable, but are super satisfying to get right.

    2. Once I got the brake bias right, the car felt so much more stable under braking, which gave me the confidence to brake harder, and the lap times fell accordingly.

    3. Even with an octagonal tire I was able to turn pretty consistent times within a few tenths of a second when not dealing with traffic.

    4. I’m pretty sure with the correct gearing and some round tires I could drop under 2:30. This whole “3rd gear to 105mph” situation has got to go.




    For the May event I was anticipating hot weather, as historically that weekend at VIR is usually well into the triple digits. The stock oil cooler had been bugging me for some time. It's a decent size but uses 3/8" hoses and likes to leak from all the connection points. Since I already have a filter sandwich plate with AN fittings I figured there was only one logical conclusion.





    A larger oil cooler with beefier -8AN lines was the obvious choice. A slight modification to the OE bracket actually fit pretty well.





    Another advantage to this setup is the ability to relocate my oil temperature sensor from the drain plug to the cooler outlet line. This will make oil changes much easier.





    With a couple of 30* hose ends at the sandwich plate, everything fit perfectly and - so far - remains leak-free.





    I also added an additional air guide along the bottom of the radiator opening. Now all air coming in through the front of the car is going straight through the cooling system.





    I also added a Radium catch can to filter out any undesirable fluid residue from the PCV system.





    In a kinda-sorta last-ish minute decision I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on installing the spare AE92 transmission. Of course if I'm already there I may as well upgrade the weeny OE clutch/flywheel setup to something a little more suited to this car. The stock flywheel weighed in at a hefty 16.7lb.





    Instead I'll be running a Fidanza aluminum flywheel weighing in at 8.6lb. Nearly half the weight. I've run a similar setup on my MR2 for nearly a decade with great results.





    The new clutch is an Exedy OE-spec kit for an AE92/AW11 MR2. It's a larger disc for more friction surface, and it's all a bolt-in upgrade over the smaller FX setup.





    With the octagonal rear tires rotated out, and a fresh pair of Falken RT660's up front, it was time to give it another go at NASA's May event at VIR.





    The accuracy of the phone GPS isn't super great for this but at least it's an apples-to-apples comparison vs the March event. I shaved off 0.82 seconds, but clearly I have some time out there I just need to focus to get.

    A couple notes from last weekend:
    Set a new personal best by .8 seconds, but I feel like as much as the new gearing made be faster out of corners, the top speed is only up by like 2mph so it’s only but so helpful as these huge tracks. I feel like as much as the gearing helped, the Falkens up front hurt. The RT660 just straight up are not as sticky as the RE71R. They also seem to like way less pressure which leads to less responsive inputs. I’m fairly disappointed with them to be honest.
    Sunday it was colder and drizzled most of the day, so I didn’t have my lap timer app running. The car was having issues starting, and eventually the whole electrical system went out. Investigations found the signal wire to the starter had shorted on the exhaust manifold flange, causing my big 150A safety fuse at the battery to blow. I completely disconnected the starter and replaced the fuse, push-starting the car to run the last session of the day, only missing one session.
    The fuse will be replaced with a breaker that can be easily reset if it trips. The starter will be relocated to the intake side of the motor, and I have an exhaust leak to sort out as well. Also the front brakes are due for replacement so all of that plus probably more will happen over the summer. Hopefully this thing will be ready to rock for Hyperfest in October.

    Bonus - the 2Runner hit 200k on the way home. Finally broken in.

    @thedailydownshift

  14. #64
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    GTA, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    5

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    Thanks for sharing ! Great project. Love it !

  15. #65
    Join Date
    Oct 2020
    Posts
    12

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    Man, i'm so happy to see someone building on of these over an 86 for once (as much as i love the 86).

    That paint responded amazingly to a buff. she's poppin'!

    Also, a kanjo style spoiler would look great on this imo as it has a similar shape to the EF

    c86e94cab4a3927748e57d23a5721dcb.jpg

  16. #66

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    I've given some thought to the kanjo-style spoiler, but if I ever went full on aero with this car I'd likely do something with PCI Civic hatch wing mounts, as they would work pretty well with some minor modification. Those mounts plus a 9 Lives Racing "Big Wang" would be rad. But I am just straight up not fast enough to need rear downforce right now.
    @thedailydownshift

  17. #67

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    At the last VIR event back in May, I had some electrical issues that almost killed the weekend when the starter signal wire grounded out on the exhaust manifold flange. This resulted in some sketchy work-arounds that meant I needed a push-start for the last session of the weekend, and would have meant a tow if I spun or stalled on track.





    When the starter wire grounded out, it blew my main fuse at the battery. While it's a good proof-of-concept that this design did its job and prevented a fire, having to leave the track to find a replacement fuse between sessions is no fun.





    To fix this, I replaced the fuse with a breaker. That way there's no parts to replace if it trips, I can just reset it (after fixing whatever the issue was) and continue on my way.





    The issue with the starter on these cars is that it sits on the front side of the engine being gently hugged to death by the hot exhaust manifold. To change it you also have to remove the oil filter and sandwich plate because there's nowhere else for it to go. You can sort of see it with its gold heat shield in this old picture.





    So, what's the best way to prevent the wires from touching the hot exhaust? Move the whole thing to the intake side, obviously. The C52 transmission has two starter locations built into the bell housing for use on different vehicles. Since my starter was verified toast, just giving a "click" and emitting wisps of acrid smoke, I ordered a starter for the intake side - one for a 88-89 Supercharged MR2.





    Over on the intake side, there are a few space constraints. The main issue is the water pump inlet pipe, the larger bottom pipe in the picture. While you can retain the original small upper bypass pipe, the larger inlet pipe has to either be modified, or replaced with one from a 88-89 Supercharged MR2 (4A-GZE engine) to fit around the new starter.





    Unfortunately the spot on the block where the GZE pipe bolts to is not drilled/tapped on this block. I ended up welding a bracket to bolt up to one of the starter bolts to give the pipe proper support.





    As for mounting the starter itself, I made a template and used a 75mm hole saw to cut the correct hole in the dust plate.





    After sourcing the right bolts, the starter bolted right up! The only other modification required is bending the intake manifold brace that bolts to the bottom of the block. I made a block-off plate to cover the hole where the starter used to go, and it's job done.





    It starts! Now the starter should be a little easier to access if I need to replace it in the future, it's farther back in the chassis, and it's away from major sources of heat. Win-win!

    With some fresh front brake pads and rotors installed, the car is now basically ready for Hyperfest at VIR in a couple weeks. I can't wait to get back out there!
    @thedailydownshift

  18. #68

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    With the car fixed and ready to roll with a relocated starter and fresh front brakes, I was very excited to hit the track again for VIR's biggest spectator event of the year - Hyperfest. I've been almost every year for over a decade now, but this was my first time actually participating, so I was equal parts excited and stressed out. Overall I had two goals: finally break under a 2:30.00 lap time, and pass the HPDE3 test on Sunday.

    All *good* photos in this post are by Tom Adkins (BumpHead Racing)





    This was the 2Runner's first tow with the AirLift rear airbags and Bilsteins. These upgrades made a huge difference, and the trip has never been smoother. I got a good grid spot within sight of grid, and set up camp. The now-infamous NAPA awning ended up being very useful, providing great shade to the Corolla during the day.





    Going through tech Friday morning, I was informed that the Snell M2015 helmet I had been using for the past couple years was suddenly unacceptable. Even though I had used this helmet with NASA at VIR at least 3 times in the past year, now it was an issue. I was pretty peeved, but I was probably going to get an SA2020 helmet for next season anyway. Fortunately TMI Racing had one of their more budget-friendly options available in my size, so I picked up a brand new Bell B2 Apex and some new HANS posts.





    With the car (and helmet) through tech, the rest of Friday was basically a spectator day. My favorite thing was the night race at sundown. This was the first-ever night race at Hyperfest, and the view from South Paddock was breathtaking. Watching the LED-clad racers climb the back straight into the dusk sky is now one of my all-time favorite sights, I wish the photo did it even the slightest justice.





    Saturday morning's first session I beat my previous best time of 2:31.05 with an incredibly frustrating 2:30.01 - just two hundredths of a second over my goal. Unfortunately that would be the best time I would see over the weekend.





    In one of the later sessions on Saturday, I received a point-by from a BMW, and did a classic money shift from the top of third gear down into second by accident. The engine saw around 9,000rpm for a fraction of a second, possibly more since that's as high as the tachometer goes, and nearly gave me a heart attack. I kept a close eye on the oil pressure gauge for the rest of the session but the old 4AGE just kept on ticking. Even at over 250k miles on the original engine, it was still running fine. The relatively new oil pump and timing belt probably saved this thing.





    On Sunday morning I had an instructor friend of mine ride right seat to see if he had any pointers. In the next solo session out I was pushing hard to try and break 2:30, and when I tried a different line through Hog Pen, I ended up spinning through the grass. Fortunately I didn't hit anything and the car was fine, but it did shake up my confidence for a little while.





    It's been at least two years since this car had a proper alignment, so after two trips through the grass (this, and Summit last fall) that is definitely on the priority list for next season. Looking over the pictures it definitely seems like a little bit more negative camber could be beneficial as well.





    At some point on Sunday between sessions I also happened to notice one of the brake caliper slide pin bolts on the left rear had disappeared. I'm not sure how long it had been like that, as the car did not feel or sound any different. Fortunately my friend Brian was there spectating and he had driven his FX16 as well, so he saved my ass by lending me one of the bolts off his car so I could complete Sunday's sessions safely. His bolt was returned and re-installed before the trip home.





    All in all I'd say it was a pretty successful weekend. The car made it back unscathed, I improved my personal best time, I was on the receiving end of more point-bys than in the past, and I passed the HPDE3 test with a perfect score!





    Unfortunately I can't make it to NASA's Fall Finale event at Summit Point on Halloween weekend, but I'll be back at Dominion Raceway on November 13. I'm excited to see how the updated gearing and the experience I've gained over the last year changes things there.

    To finish things out, here's the video of the 2:30.01 lap, with a few ideas on places to shave some time. See you next time!

    @thedailydownshift

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