1983 Toyota Levin – In Search of Perfection – 192
It’s been a long road for Shaun Borland when it comes to building his dream car — in fact, it has taken him 50 other vehicles to get to this point — an astronomical number for any one man to own in his lifetime. But the road to perfection is not an easy one and nor is it a short one. The story of this Toyota AE86 must start with another one of Shaun’s projects — a New Zealand–new AE86 GT, as he explains: “I stupidly sold it and regretted it straight away. So I bought an AE85 and completed a 4AGE conversion with twin side draughts. That was kind of OK but I was never 100-per-cent happy with it. Then I spotted the AE86 known as ‘WINSKY’ for sale, I clicked ‘buy now’ and sold the AE85.” The new 86 was set up for drift track days with a half-cage, S13 front suspension conversion, a 4AGE+T and Trueno front headlights.
Not all that happy with the 130kW from the +T engine set-up Shaun soon pulled the 86 off the road for the first of what would become two builds on the car, this first one involving a panel and paint and a new engine combination. After spotting a Toyota FX GT with an already built 4AGZE he picked it up for a steal and transferred the engine into the AE86, although as he says, it wasn’t quite that straight forward: “I should have really just started the build from scratch, we ended up redoing everything anyway, so it ended up costing more than it should have.” The issue with the combination was the subpar turbo and manifold, but on the other hand there was a nice surprise under the dash, an EMS Stinger ECU. With the new engine combination dropped in and a new turbo, it was off to On the Limit to have Mark Hewitt aka ‘Tricky Tune’ work his magic on the dyno, something Shaun recalls quite well: “The car sat there for two months gathering dust, I was in there every day hassling them to tune it. After two months I went in and asked Tricky what he drinks, and after shooting up to the bottle shop to grab some Woodstock bourbons at around 8pm, I returned to find Mark had set up the hub dyno and plugged the laptop in. After feeding him about eight big cans he was a bit slurry and shouted, ‘Check this out, bro,’ flooring the old Levin to 8000rpm as it spat out huge flames. But it was only making 165kW, so he carried on drinking and by 11pm it was making a much healthier 196kW on 17psi.”
It’s amazing how quickly a little bribing can get the job done. Shaun was back on the road and loving it, until the clutch gave way when he was demonstrating the power increase to friends. Thankfully that was an easy fix, and he installed something a little beefier, in the form of a five-puck brass-button clutch plate.
We get the feeling that Shaun is somewhat of a perfectionist because all the little niggling things wrong with the AE soon saw the car back off the road for rebuild number two. This time things would get a little more serious: “I was sick of the guards rubbing so I took it off the road and decided to go wide-body, and while off the road to take the opportunity to tidy up all the other things I wasn’t happy with.”
Shaun went straight to one of the best looking wide-bodies on the market, a genuine set of J-Blood guards. He dropped the car off to Raul from Bodytech, who spent untold hours perfecting the fibreglass and moulding the rear guards to the shell, before spraying on the new colour selected from the Toyota range. While off the road Shaun also de-loomed and tidied the engine bay and took care of things on the inside, adding the Bride seats and new carpet.
Any owner of an old car will tell you it’s a battle to have a good looking car that is also pleasant to ride in, and by all accounts this ex-track car drove like a bag of shit.
With guidance from AE-master Brendan Duncker (owner of the infamous 18a AE86), Shaun was determined to put it right. A bunch of Hardrace adjustable arms were installed along with camber plates and traction brackets. The lower arms were shortened but what really completed the transformation was a decent wheel alignment from Tyre Tech, which transformed the car. Shaun tells us the car now drives like a go-kart and he couldn’t be happier with the end result.
With the second build complete do you think Shaun is content? Not by a long shot: “It will never be finished; there’s always a list of things that I want to do, the first will be getting more power, with a new set of valve springs I will be able to up the boost quite a bit.” So the evolution of this car isn’t over, and while it’s already an extremely nice street car, it will continue to evolve. People talk about the new 86s being an extremely fun car to drive, but they will never hold a candle to the original — especially one executed as well as Shaun’s.
This article is from NZ Performance Car 192. Click here to check it out.
1983 Toyota Levin (AE86) – Tuning Menu
ENGINE: Toyota AE92 4AGZE
HEAD: Blue-top cams, HKS head gasket, AE101 cam angle sensor, modified cover with twin breathers, T3 adjustable cam gears, clear cam-gear cover, ARP head studs
INTAKE: RWD manifold, A’PEXi pod filter, 250x550x76 intercooler
EXHAUST: Convert three-inch stainless system
TURBO: T3/T4 turbo, Beyond stainless exhaust manifold
WASTEGATE: TiAL 38mm
FUEL: 440cc injectors, Turbosmart fuel pressure regulator, 500hp Walbro pump
IGNITION: TRD ignition leads
ECU: EMS Stinger tuned by Mark at Tricky Tune
COOLING: Alloy radiator with twin 12-inch fans, 19-row oil cooler,
EXTRA: Cusco catch can, remote oil filter, de-loomed, Gilmer belt drive
GEARBOX: W57 Supra five-speed, Nite Parts bellhousing, Quick Shift short shifter
CLUTCH: Exedy five-puck button clutch
DIFF: TRD two-way LSD
STRUTS: (F) Hot Bits S13 coilovers, T3 camber plates (R) KYB shocks, TRD springs
BRAKES: (F) 280mm RDA slotted rotors, S13 hubs (R) standard
OTHER: Modified S13 lower control arms, Hardrace adjustable castor arms, Whiteline sway bars (F) 24mm (R) 16mm, T3 traction brackets, T3 adjustable Panhard, Noltec bushes, Cusco brake master stopper, powder-coated suspension arms
WHEELS: (F) Varrstoen 15×8-inch 0 offset (R) 15×9-inch 0 offset
TYRES: (F) 195/50R15 Bridgestone Potenza RE002 (R) 215/50R15 Yokohama
PAINT: PPG 2k 2004 Corolla blue/grey
ENHANCEMENTS: Genuine J-Blood wide-body fenders, full Vertex kit, Speed Factory carbon bonnet, Roadline facelift taillights, 35-per-cent tints
SEATS: (F) Bride Low Max
STEERING WHEEL: Nardi
INSTRUMENTATION: A’PEXi boost and oil pressure gauges, Gizzmo shift light
CONTROLERS: GReddy turbo timer, Blitz DS boost controller
ICE: Pioneer head unit, Pioneer component speakers, pioneer rear speakers
OTHER: Four-point roll cage, new carpet, custom parcel tray, full facelift black interior, TRD gear knob, Pivot start button, fire extinguisher
POWER: 196kW at the wheels on 17psi
Shaun Borland – Driver Profile
Location: North Shore, Auckland
Occupation: Print supervisor
Build time: First build, two years; second build, 18 months
Length of ownership: six-and-a-half years
Thanks: My awesome wife Kimberley, Jeremy, Digby, Marty, Bruce, Carl, Cameron, Brendan at Convert, Rahu at Bodytech East Tamaki, and the lads at Tyre Tech on Archers Road
Words: Marcus Gibson Photos: Adam Croy