Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Words & Snaps by Ben

Some cars just catch the eye. They might not be show queens or outlandishly modified monsters, but they get  just as much attention, or even sometimes more than the formers. 

Gerald's Corolla is one of these, and when I first saw it at the JDM Legends Meet, it had something mesmerising to it. I knew then I had to get it on my lens.

I always believe that some cars have a soul. Not all cars, but some only; a soul that grows as the car's owner spends his or her's sweat and blood in maintaining and building it. 

This is usually how I choose the cars I feature. To me, it doesn't matter the extent of mods done to a car, the amount of money spent into the build, or even the physical perfection of the car, what attracts me is the passion and the hard work spent in it, and the soul this gives it.

Gerald's Corolla EE101 has a soul. And a strong one.

His passion for cars started young, and for as long as he can remember, he spent time with his friends talking about cars, going through magazines and dreaming about what car they'd get and how they'd modify them. As he grew up watching the "older kids" race, his passion grew stronger, strong enough to stand up to Singapore's mod-unfriendly environment.

Once old enough to own a car, he started looking for a '90s Corolla, a model he always loved. Due to a permanent leg injury, Gerald wasn't able to use the third pedal, but this never stopped his passion, and as soon as he found this automatic EE101, he started spending his time in multi-storey carparks, building his dream with his own hands.

The EE101 is the little sister of the more popular AE101, powered by a 1.3L 4E-FE powerplant putting out 99hp from the production lines. While the smaller engine might put out some power-hungry people, it made this car more affordable to buy and insure, letting Gerald have more money for modifications.

While the bodywork might look ordinary at first sight, Gerald spent a lot of time bringing subtle enhancements to the looks of his EE101, such as the upgraded '93 Corolla tail lights and garnish and the boot lip.

He then carried on to the front, with a '93 Corolla World Class bumper and a Corolla Sprinter front grille. The OEM headlights made way for Corolla BZ Touring headlights to which Gerald added a JDM touch by DIYing amber corner lamps.

The final touch brought to the front end came in the form of a bumper lip, cannibalised from a Honda Integra DC2. As you may guess, it wasn't a perfect fit, so Gerald had to put in some elbow grease, and a couple of band aids, to make it fit.

The ATF cooler and its Permacool hoses peeking from behind the bumper probably caught your attention. This got me to get a look under the hood, where Gerald had kept things to a minimum, for now.

He helped his engine breathe better by DIYing a cold air intake and complemented it with a K&N drop-in filter. On the exhaust side, a 4-2-1 extractor improved the pick up.

As we looked at the engine, Gerald pointed out the strut bar, stripped from a Corolla Levin. "I got it when I was visiting Australia for holiday, Gerald recalled. I went to check out a scrapyard and found it. It's hard to find this part in Singapore, so I bought it right away and brought it back with me in the plane."

The strut bar strengthened the suspension towers housing the XYZ Suspensions that give this EE101 its eye-catching stance.

Gerald used camber bolts at the front and rear to help the TE57V and their +25 offset fit without too much rubbing. The stretched 195/50 Bridgestone Turanza put a final touch to the stance of this simple yet well-built EE101.

The exterior is not all that's been worked on, and as I opened the driver's door, I saw that Gerald brought some nice touches to the interior too, starting from the carbon fibre sill plate cannibalised from a Golf GTI.

While some purists might scoff at Gerald's cross-brands mods, I believe it only added to the character of the  EE101. If the VW sill plates were too much for you, try not looking at the Heico Pedals taken from a Volvo, sitting beneath the Sparco semi-deep dish wheel.

The leather-rewrapped seats were original, but Gerald confided he was getting a set of Recaro SR4 bucket seats kidnapped from a DC5R installed in soon.

Finally, to keep an eye on the state of his engine, Gerald saved up for months and managed to lay his hands on a set of Défi din gauges reading the water and oil temps and the oil pressure.

To enjoy his tunes while cruising with friends, Gerald upgraded the original audio system with a Pioneer 2550 head unit, plugged to a Pioneer GM5200T. The system pumped out the beat through Sony XPlod speakers and Rainbow Audio tweeters.

Gerald is far from being done building this dream, and after adding some final touches to the aesthetics, he plans on getting a paint job before turning his attention to the power and handling.

"There is no end to it, really, as ending a build is like ending a passion. My car is neither the fastest nor the best looking, but it looks just the way I want it to, and that's good enough for me."


1992 Corolla EE101
1,331cc 4E-FE NA
Drive Layout
Max Output
100+bhp (est)

Power Mods
DIY Cold Air Intake
K&N Drop-in Filter
Original, 4-2-1 header
Permacool Oil Cooler With Custom High Temp Pressure Hose
ATF Cooler

TE57V 15x8 offset +25
Bridgestone Turanza ER300 195/50R15
XYZ Coilovers
Camber Bolts (Front & Rear)
OEM Corolla Levin Strut Bar

1993 Corolla World Class Front Bumper Conversion
Customised Honda Integra DC2 Front Lip
Corolla Sprinter Grille
Rear Boot Lip
Corolla BZ Touring Black Face Headlights
DIY JDM Amber Corner Lamps
1993 Corolla Tail Lamp & Garnish

OEM Leather Rewrapped Seats (Front & Rear)
Steering Wheel
Sparco Semi Deep Dish
Défi Din Gauges
Heico Pedals
Leather Wrapped Door Panels
VW Golf GTI Carbon Fibre Step Panel
Pioneer GM5200T Amplifier
Pioneer 2550 Head Unit
Sony XPlod Front Speakers
Rainbow Speakers Tweeters

Special Thanks
Ah Ming, Ah Be and John of SK Garage.

Derek from SK Garage, both my good friend and mechanic who helped me build up this car - Thanks for your work and advice!

To my good friends Ah Phua, Chris Lui, Rano and Inn Chiat, all the current and future modification on this car would not be possible without you guys!


No comments

Post a Comment

© POWAA Garage. All rights reserved.
Blogger templates by pipdig