The 6th generation Toyota Corolla nicknamed E90 was a successful model in Bangladesh. Mainly because of its bullet-proof reliability, availability of parts and price. There were more variations of the 6th generation Toyota Corolla than a women's shoe. But this issue is not particularly focused on what it was from factory, rather what it can be turned into with a little effort. Most of these cars were beaters turned into beautiful project cars that look like they rolled off the factory line not too long ago. And there is a very good reason for that, these E90 Corollas are cheap to buy used and if your wallet agrees, they can be built right to your heart's desire. Here are three very different approaches of exactly that.
Let's focus on the unique shiny red Corolla built and driven by Tauqir Ahmed. Tauqir always wanted a sports car but didn't have the budget for one. His family owned this Corolla for the last 21 years, so he thought of personalizing this car to his liking. Since he was a big fan of a turbo-charging and sticking to the originally of the car being a 1.3L, he opted for the turbo-charged 4-cylinder 1.3L “4E-FTE” commonly found in the sporty variations of the Toyota Starlet. This may not be the most powerful or fastest Corolla in the breed
with its engine producing a mere 130 BHP but if you can look past the brochure, this car does not feel like it is lacking in terms power in any way. This actually feels quite different to the other two in the sense that this being turbo-charged, you do not need to rev it up all the way in the same fashion as a naturally aspirated engine which makes the power a lot more accessible. The owner does however intend to tune the car for a better power output in the near future.
The fun GT
The Corolla 90 was originally offered in the GT trim with the early iteration of the 1.6L 4A-GE 16v called “Red-top”. But this is not a Corolla GT, it's a little more than that. Eashan Khan bought this car a year ago and it desperately needed some love. Eashan was a huge fan of the Carina GT which influenced him to select the last generation 4A-GE, the Blacktop 20 valve, for his project. Married to a short ratio 5-speed transmission and boasting 165 BHP, this car is adequately fast to back-up the body kit it carries. The 4AGE was
designed to be a fun and affordable 1.6L which won't land you into much trouble, and to me it surely meets its design criteria and beyond. The 4A-GE is not refined, it's raw, it screams every time you take this car to its 8300 RPM redline, and it will happily do it all day to put a smile on your face. It really is one of those things that you need to feel to understand, I’m tussling to find the right words to explain it. While driving this car you certainly get the vibe that the chassis was designed for it; which it was.
The go-fast Rolla
Another worthy contender is S.M. Fahim Rifat's brutal E90 powered by the 1.8L VVTL-I engine offered in the sporty variants of the 9th generation Corolla and Celica GT-S. He had this car for the last 23 years, and on 2006 he did a 4A-GE 20v Silvertop conversion following an E90 which inspired him the year before that. But the chapter doesn't end there, he wanted it to be the fastest one of its kind in Dhaka, so fast-forward 9 years and this car is boasting a 2ZZ-GE swap, the first and only one ever done to a 6th gen Corolla. The owner didn't even bother to put in creature comforts such as power windows or stereo. The particular car might not have the most fun-factor or attitude of the “4A-GE” but you forgive its kinks when the mile meter climbs so rapidly. It's also the most economical of the bunch too, covering 12-14 kilometers per liter of octane if you short-shift it. And when that becomes too boring, you have at the disposal of your right foot 190 BHP and 8400 revs to play with.
Which one is best? Frankly speaking, I couldn't choose between the three, not even after dedicating countless hours of thought into it. They are so extensively different approaches to what a E90 could be that you'd be hard pressed to pick one. In my opinion, they are all unique and they're all the best of their kind in their own distinct approaches, each making the point that you don't need a ton of money to build your very own dream car.
Photos: Rahin Sadman Islam