Mini Lexus (Toyota Corolla E101)


Were you expecting to see either a Trueno or Levin? Sorry then, but to many enthusiasts out there, the Corolla of the 90s is still as much as a sensible and affordable commuter car. However, many performance hardcore folks shun it, preferring cars like the Honda Civic EK, hence, the Corolla doesn’t have the aftermarket following like the Honda.

This generation of Corollas was a big success in Singapore, as being the most unassuming car of the lot. Aside from the legendary reliability of the Corolla, this particular generation is a little special, because of the range of options it came in. Engine choices however, was limited to either a 1.3- or 1.6-litre petrol engine.

The 4E-FE engine was then a new thing to the seventh-generation Corolla. Offering 16 valves, double overhead camshafts and fuel injection, the stock EE101 could still sprint from 0-100 in a little over 10 seconds and still offer good fuel economy. And by today’s standards, that is not bad at all – in fact we’ve seen this Corolla going around Melaka too…


While not yet considered a ‘classic’, the Corolla is one of those cars that has a small group of die-hard enthusiasts who reap the benefits of the reliability that Toyota put in. In many ways, a “normal” car that’s been kept up well and tastefully maintained demands more respect.

Even after 20 years, this “mini Lexus” also features some of the tech that racers love. A 90’s Toyota with potential for power and handling upgrades, featured MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension layout as opposed to modern strut/torsion beam setup of today’s cars. The multi-link rear end can be further fine-tuned unlike the “fit and forget” nature of torsion beams.

Plus, even after so long, parts are readily available for this Corolla generation. The handling was further improved with the inclusion of XYZ Coilovers, a front strut bar from a Levin, thicker front sway bar from the more powerful AE101, and braking is taken care of with N-brakes brake pads plus Goodridge steel braided brake hose.

With a sprightly engine tuned for economy more than performance, and given the car’s age, most of the mods under the bonnet are geared towards keeping the block nice and cool in all conditions, with a little splash of colour with the custom designed valved cover.

Recently rebuilt for the sake of ensuring longevity (and it’s pre VVTi, so one less thing to break), the engine features an oil catch can to stop fumes from fouling up the intake, fitted with an inverted air filter which somehow delivers smoother acceleration than a normally fitted one. The owner doesn’t mind experimenting with different setups and learning something new about his car everyday.

Cooling capacity is further increased with a smattering array of additional coolers as well as an upgraded radiator and fan, which was a necessary choice as originals are getting a bit harder to obtain than aftermarket parts. Not forgetting the really old rubber hoses, all the piping has been changed to a more resilient silicon option for less worries down the road!

As with classics, there are many ways of customizing one’s ride. Inside, we find all the sporty additions such as seats, steering wheel and enough gauges to excite the racer in anyone. But, when this car isn’t screaming around a circuit, the daily grind requires another form of entertainment, in the form of a kick-butt sound system.

A tough, rugged, reliable and bulletproof compact with (quite) modern engine tech, easy maintenance and outlives COE. Maybe you can start reconsidering that EK sedan after all?

Toyota Corolla EE101

Custom designed valved cover
Oil catch can
Mocal Thermostatic sandwich plate for oil cooler
Blox aluminium radiator
Upgraded radiator fan
Silicon radiator hose
Sard fuel pressure regulator
K&N apollo air filter (inverted)
Direct cold air intake
4EFTE throttle body
4FFTE Manifold
Cometic head gasket 1.0mm
ARP head stud
Ultra spark plug cable
Samco silicon vacuum hoses

XYZ Coilover
Levin front strut bar
Ae101 front sway bar
N-brakes brake pads
Goodridge steel braided brake hose

Recaro SR4 with miki railing
Sparco semi deep steering wheel
Defi din meter
Pioneer P80RS2 headunit
Jbl 4 channel amp
Pioneer mono amp
Rockford P1 subwoofer
Apexi RSM black edition
Pivot super temp controller
D1 spec weighted gear knob
Corolla optional cup holder
PLX air/fuel gauge

Oracal TeleGrey Wrap
Ae101 Corolla FX bumper
Ae101 Glass Crystal head lamp
Custom painted amber corner lamp
DC2 front lip with custom paint work
Ae101 Corolla sprinter grille
1993 Ae101 corolla tail lamp
Duck tail spoiler
RPF1 deep dish 15″
Pilot Sport 3 195/50r15
Corolla AE101 door visor


About Author

Always finding ways to keep his hands full, Krado loves to tinker with his car whenever he has the free time. Usually ends in tears or a multiple fluid facial.

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