Levin Large: Toyota AE92 Levin
I love the cars from before the 2000s. Those always had the proper proportion of what cars should be: long and sleek like a hotdog filler. The 92 Levin is exactly that. It's based on Toyota's more common and often anesthetic E90 sedan, except the hood looks a little longer and the tail looks more eager to wag and entertain like an obedient puppy.
This black machine is a mostly tame, everyday fire breathing monster. It has what I would consider just the right amount of power for a car to be driven in the city every day. It's got the very popular-for-Bangladesh 4AGE Blacktop engine offering something in the vicinity of 145 bhp. This is a brilliant engine for all purposes whether it be zooming across and open highway or puttering around town picking up friends for a tea session by the road. It's zippy quick. But it didn't start out that way.
I've known Junayed Al Hasan for a while now and when he got his hands on this little rocket, it was your average grocery getter. In fact, that's exactly what it was being primarily used for by the original owner, for school duties of the family kids. It also lacked all the juicy mechanical bits.
The car started life as a 1.5 5AFHE, five-speed coupe with the typical disc/drum setup. It looked the part, but didn't have the go. When the car went up for sale, Junayed picked it up as a potential project that could turn heads. And boy did he succeed. The car was in exceptional condition structurally. That's the first thing to ensure when buying any project car. If the chassis and body are straight, your work is cut out for you. But that didn't necessarily make it easy. It was quite the task sourcing the proper brakes. The rears had to be upgraded to discs to help the car stop after it received the new engine setup.
My jaw dropped when I saw the interior. It was all original and everything was where it should be. It's amazing to see such interiors considering the state of old cars in our country. Weather and wear plays a big part in making a 20 year old car look like a hundred year old barn. With dead pigs included. But this was pristine. So what do I do when he offers me the keys? Of course I take it.
The Levin has been fitted with a 6-speed gearbox that offered a bit of challenge to me. Like all project cars, this had its quirks. Reverse was difficult to put into. Junayed kept telling me I should push it into the slot real hard and it will engage, except I feared I would break it. In all reality I couldn't break it if I wanted to but there's always that nervousness for the car geeks that prevents you from doing hurtful things. So every time I needed reverse, Junayed acted the co-driver. Helper if you will.
The car has Exedy stage 1 clutch and pressure plate, yet every gear change is like a regular 'normal' car. I could drive this all day and not feel a thing. So what makes this car exceptional? This is a true project car like the others we've featured so far. It's been built from the ground up from a regular car to something that can scare you but in a good way. Every stab of the accelerator makes the car lurch forward. Its strength lies in the mid revs from second gear onwards.
There have been newer, faster cars that made me giddy and excited all at the same time. But this car has just the right amount of everything for everyday use. Fast and beautiful, these old cars have a style that has aged very well. The ride is tight and extremely compliant on the 195 section 15-inch tires. There's a future upgrade planned for this little rocket, that being coilovers and slightly bigger wheels to compensate for the drop. Can't wait to see what happens then.
Footnote: You want to start a project car like this? Junayed's tips: Find a clean chassis, build up the brakes and suspension and then go for power. It's the only formula. If your car can't stop, don't go for 'go'. And yes, at the end of the day I mastered the reverse gear. It was extremely difficult giving back the keys.
Owner: Junayed Al Hasan
Hails from: Chittagong
Currently: Doing MBA at IUB, running a business.
Past: Worked at Shanta Properties Ltd.
AE92 Toyota Levin
Engine: 1.6 liter 4 cylinder twin cam 20 valve, quad throttle 4AGE (blacktop), Blitz LM Pro cold air intake, Aerospeed plug wires, Blox lightweight crank and cam pulley.
Transmission: 6 speed C160 manual transmission, Exedy stage 1 clutch and pressure plate.
Brakes: All wheel disc brakes from AE111 Levin.
Wheels and tires: 15 inch aftermarket BBS wheels.
Suspension: Tanabe Sustec springs, Ultra Racing front and rear strut/sway.