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Turbo LQ9-powered Toyota KE20 Corolla sleeper

By Iain Kelly | Photos: Alastair Brook, 16 Feb 2019 Features

Turbo LQ9-powered Toyota KE20 Corolla sleeper

KE20 Corolla powered by a turbo LS motor!

This article on Tim's Corolla was first published in the February 2019 issue of Street Machine

TOYOTA’S diminutive KE20 Corolla became a legend in Australia for its rugged simplicity and reliability, even if it only had 7hp and couldn’t get up hills with a passenger on board. Tim Skillicorn’s example fixes this with a 600rwhp turbo LS hidden between custom frame rails and a bucketload of fabrication work!

Toyota Corolla“I found the Corolla on eBay in Melbourne in 2012,” says Tim. “It was already done with an LS in it, but it was naturally apsirated with a cam, and that’s about it. I took it for a quick drive and it leaked oil out the rocker cover, and the whole car went from there. I had only driven it around the block once and then pulled it down and redid it completely.

Read next: LS-powered 1978 Toyota KE30 Corolla

Toyota Corolla sideThe dudes at Adelaide’s Custom Steel Wheels knocked up a set of one-off 15x4.5in and 15x9in steelies for Tim’s KE20, hiding Infiniti Q45 brakes up front and Falcon disc stoppers out the back. QA1 coil-over struts hold the tiny coupe off terra firma 

“The body itself is all original, but all the tinwork and chassis front-to-back is all new,” Tim continues. “It’s got full rails front-to-back, a tubbed, four-linked rear end with a Watt’s link, nine-inch diff, and it is tech-inspected and approved for the ’cage, too. The tunnel and floor have been raised, as this gives more clearance for the exhaust.”

Read next: Turbo V8-powered Toyota KE20 Corolla sleeper

Toyota Corolla bootThat custom four-inch exhaust connects to an iron LQ9 six-litre truck motor built by Troy Worsley from Warspeed Industries, wearing a giant Garrett GTX42 turbo hanging off the side. While they’re renowned on the internet for making 1500hp on a stock bottom end, Tim’s LQ9 now rocks Callies I-beam rods and JE pistons, while LS7 lifters handle the job of transferring motion between the 232/242 cam and the Trend pushrods.

Read next: Twin-turbo LS Corolla in the build

Toyota Corolla engine bayWhile it makes 600rwhp, the Corolla is still a picture of reliability on the road. “I can leave it in the garage for two or three weeks and it still starts first hit of the key,” Tim says

The six-litre wears cathedral-port LS1 #241-casting heads, topped by a carbon-dipped FAST LSX-R intake manifold, while a Haltech PS2000 ECU controls all the vitals and a custom radiator from South Coast Radiators keeps the whole lot cool on the mean streets of Sydney. On 10psi and sucking a gutload of E85 from the boot-mounted fuel cell, the little KE20 spat out 600rwhp, which should be more than enough!

Toyota CorollaWhile it is easy to make power with bulk boost, having it wrapped up in a civil package was key for Tim. “I wanted it to be a street car, and the GTX turbo comes on full boost at 2500-3000rpm, which is perfect,” he says. “It can torch the tyres at any speed!” 

“I haven’t felt the urge to go retune it. For the street it is plenty of power,” Tim laughs. “I’ve always wanted to compete in Jamboree and events like that, but I’ve got a few things that I’d like to do before the car is ready to compete.”

Toyota Corolla interiorA Haltech Racepak dash replaces the stock gauges, while a B&M ratchet picks ratios in the two-speed ’Glide

Behind the LQ9 is a Slingshot 4000rpm torque converter and an Al’s Race Glides-built Powerglide packing a transbrake for nose-up launches, while Gear Exchange handled the nine-inch diff. The heavily narrowed nine-inch under the Corolla’s tiny bum copped a Strange Centre and 3.5:1 gears, 31-spline billet axles and a full spool.

Toyota Corolla interiorWith the car’s rollcage ANDRA tech-approved and a pair of Kirkeys to hold him in place, Tim is keen to run the car once he gets his oil pressure sorted in the 60ft

“It doesn’t go around corners too good, but it is meant to drive in a straight line,” says Tim. “I wanted to keep it all tucked out of the way, and make sure everything was under the bonnet line and hidden. I also tried to do it all properly the first time, and then enjoy it from then on. I’m happy with it.”

Tim SkillicornTIM SKILLICORN
1972 TOYOTA KE20 COROLLA

ENGINE
Brand: Chevrolet LQ9 6.0L
Induction: FAST LSX-R
ECU: Haltech PS2000
Turbo: Garrett GTX42
Heads: LS1 #241 castings
Camshaft: 232/242/115
Conrods: Callies I-beam
Pistons: JE forged
Crank: Stock
Oil pump: Melling
Fuel system: Aeromotive A1000 pump
Cooling: South Coast Radiators custom radiator, Davies Craig electric water pump, twin 12in Flex-a-Lite thermo fans
Exhaust: 4in turbo-back
Ignition: LS1 coils, MSD leads

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox: Two-speed Powerglide, transbraked
Converter: Slingshot 4000rpm
Diff: Ford 9in, Strange Centre, 31-spline billet axles, full spool, 3.5:1 gears

SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: QA1 coil-over struts
Rear: QA1 coil-over struts
Chassis: Full chassis rails, tubbed rear end, coil-over strut front, four-link rear, Watt’s link
Brakes: Infiniti Q45 discs & calipers (f), Falcon discs & calipers (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood

WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Custom Steel Wheels steelies; 15x4.5 (f), 15x9 (r)
Rubber: 145/80 (f), 275/60 (r)