If you were asked to name a fan favorite Toyota from the past and one from the present, the AE86 Corolla and GR Yaris would have to be somewhere near the top of your list. The ’80s-era phenom Corolla was an instant hit early on and over the years has bubbled to cult celebrity status among the enthusiast crowd. More recently, the introduction of the GR Yaris serves as a fun loving reminder of just how lethal a compact hatchback fitted with a capable engine and drivetrain can be.
But what if you took the charm and nostalgia of an AE86 and modernized its motivation with the heart of a GR Yaris? DADDY Motor Works of Japan took that idea and ran with it, displaying the fruits of quite a bit of labor during the Tokyo Auto Salon. If not for the shockingly short valvecover and GR badging on the trunk, many might have missed the modern transplant altogether.
The process took place over a three month period and went well beyond just the engine swap. The car’s body was completely reworked, ridding of it any rust or imperfections before front and rear over fenders were introduced. Under the new arches are classic Chevlon Racing wheels in grey with polished step lips.
Updating the headlights involved a heavy black outline to tie into the upper grill, and the Corolla was treated to a matte grey finish, then topped with black and chrome livery. Look closely and you’ll notice uniform rivets holding in the custom Lexan rear windows.
The shop’s custom front bumper offers a squared take on the classic Toyota front end, and just behind that bumper’s grill opening is an array of bead rolled sheet metal paneling that directs air to the oil cooler and the V-mount radiator and intercooler stack.
Out back, the rear bumper was dramatically cut (and done so with precision), while the taillights were blacked out and hatch springs added to hold the rear shut. In terms of restomod AE86 builds from the outside, DADDY Motor Works stands among the very best. Pop the hood and its contents are what really separate it from the rest.
A brand-new GR Yaris engine was sourced as the foundation for the build. The 12-valve, 1.6-liter three-cylinder is good for over 250 hp and 265 lb.-ft. of torque and is shorter in height and shallower in length when compared to the native 4AG—not to mention lighter. In order to take advantage of the compact dimensions and distribute weight accordingly, the engine is mounted very close to the firewall, leaving plenty of space between it and the core support for a V-mount intercooler.
DADDY Motor Works’ custom pie-cut intercooler piping leads to a Bosch drive-by-wire throttle body attached to an in-house built, center-feed intake manifold. The factory turbo hangs from the original manifold and exhaust now exits through a hood port. More of the shop’s sheet metal handiwork and bead rolling can be found on the heat shields used throughout.
What you can’t see is the ZN6 (modern Toyota 86) transmission that’s been married to the long block using a custom adapter plate and maintains the car’s RWD status. The shop says that steering rack integration proved to be a challenge and after all is said and done, there’s a good chance that part of the build will be revisited.
The trunk floor was cut out to make room for a fuel cell and surge kit that are cradled by a custom cage underneath the car, while more of that signature bead rolled metal work was used to dress up the top side. The front portion of the cabin also features metal work on the door cards and foot plate, and a full cage with pillar gussets was added for protection.
Now sporting only a single seat driver, the pilot takes cues from a Windows-based tablet that resides where the factory cluster once did. A Link Fury X engine management system and various sensors are onboard and relayed through the programmable screen, with a remote kept near the shifter to make adjustments and updates. A series of relays are organized where the passenger seat once sat, with a push start, battery cut-off key, and switch panel all within easy reach.
Engine swaps, especially uncommon examples, have been all the rage for years. Some are done in haste to beat the next guy, while others are done strictly for the performance merits, often leaving an overwhelming amount of clean-up work on the table. For DADDY Motor Works, this build went way beyond an eye-catching swap, incorporating a truly complete build inside and out, top to bottom, packed with details and is a perfect example of a mash up of old and new – making it our official pick of the 2022 Tokyo Auto Salon.
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