Archive for October, 2018

Lola The Corolla

Lola 2007 – ∞

Surprisingly, Lola has stuck around and gone through her various stages of builds.

Stage 1: Youngkid Shenanigans
Stage 2: Youngdude tryna be cool-dude
Stage 3: broken
Stage 4: somehow even more broken
Current: Broken again lol.

She’s gone through 6 motors (#7 going in right now), multiple sets of brakes, countless tires, clutches, 3 (or 4) different suspension setups, 2 rear ends (even broke a diff), 2 color changes, multiple bumpers, exhausts, fuel pumps, various components going out on my (alternators, starters, distributors, etc.).

It’s hard to believe that she’s still around and that I still continue to build her up, drive her to the ground, build her back up…  and do it all over again, and again and again.  (Why?).
I guess, why not?  …  I’m still trying to figure that out myself, I suppose because it’s fun and challenging.


(SHOUT OUT TO for the shots)


We’re getting pretty close to getting her back on the road.

Stage 1~!
Young, Broke, Stupid

2007 – 2009ish

(15 y/o me doing my first “big job”, a water pump change)
I was pretty green then.

(Hey Mike, what got out into cars?)  I grew up on hotwheels, neighbors with their various racecars and their badass builds.  Then I went through the whole Initial D > Indoor Karting > hung around some drift crews > Went from wanting an RX7 to a Corolla because I thought the corolla would be more reliable.  lol.

Lola used to be really really clean

This was probably the funnest and most stressful stage of owning Lola.
It felt like everything that you’d expect a 20+ year old car to break/wear out, went bad that first year.  And with my limited experience…  I’ll just say I’m grateful for my high school autoshop teacher and his ability to put up with my shortcomings lol (example: I swapped out my headgasket 4 different times due to messing up on a step every single time where I had to redo it all).  Then the motor blew ~6 months later*.

Since I had limited income for being a high school kid working weekends, and had a high-maintenance gf at the same time, my mods were…  “creative”.

My DIY strut bar in the works lol.

First motor swap.

This one worked out pretty decently.  Lasted a good 8ish months.


2010 – …2014? …   more of a tryhard lol.

I started getting decent at drifting!
This was at the Bob’s Donuts annual black friday grip/drift event at Buttonwillow.  First time drifting in 3rd gear!  Going off track ~70mph sideways was a great feeling.

I went lower!

Maybe a little too low?
I kept breaking exhaust downpipes lol.

1561561.pngThis was supposed to be temporary

Alexey started taking photography seriously around this time.  He’s come a long ways since!



During this time I was full gung-ho about drifting and making those small changes to the setup to getting my car drive the way I like it.  Lots of testing, driving, breaking more things, more driving.

I had built my own motor with a good buddy back ~2011.  New pistons, better crank, etc. Put it all together myself and was able to get it running!  Then it went bad after a little over a year of driving.  This was motor #3 now gone bad.  Lol.

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There was a pattern that started showing, the last two motors that blew were due to the pistons developing holes near the ring-landings.  And after asking around, it began to look like I had been using the incorrect piston rings with the AE92 high-compression pistons.  There were different sizes for the two different years, and I’m guessing my motors never had the right rings, which lead to my pre-mature ring piston failure (they developed holes through them lol).
Atleast that is the excuse im going with.

Motor #4, another used motor came and went in similar fashion.  It was some used high-compression ae92 block with bluetop head.  That one lasted a good part of a year.

Motor #5 was supposed to be a 7AGE that a friend passed on to me, which never worked out.  It was knocking when I received it, but it pulled HARD.  And had been knocking for well over a year.  And I was convinced it was something simple (which I was convinced I fixed after putting it in, got it running, still knocked, fixed what I thought was the knocking noise, put it back, still knocked, did this another 2 times).  But I gave up after it kept knocking and that’s when my car really began to just sit.

Life at this time was a bit rocky, so Lola had sat for a good while.  For the better.


After an extended period of sitting, I sourced ~another~ used motor.  Cheap, came from a running MR2.  I gave it a refresh, (new seals, newer components, etc.) and ran it for the All Corolla Matsuri over at Grange.   It was pretty awesome, it’s like Coachella, but for corolla dude.  Who knew you could convince corolla dudes to go out in the middle of the desert (literally 30 mins past Barstow) to drive around a go-kart track in their corollas?


Motor #6 went out with a bang on Skyline Rd.

Good times.


And this is where I’m at now.

Tony805  put a motor together for me.  It’s a bit of a weird build.  Stock bluetop, but it has the 40mm crank, and had the rods expanded to fit the 42mm block.  It should be fun times soon enough.


The one unexpected outcome I got from all of this playing with cars this far has been sharing my passion with other folks who also share the same passion.  We all like these dinky little Toyotas (some a little too much lol).  People that like to put themselves through the same punishment over a little 80’s econobox are good on my books.


Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, night, car and outdoor

Image may contain: 5 people, including Lance Carmichael and Marc De Asis, shoes, tree, car and outdoor


All in all, I love my corolla.

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Barcelona part 2!

This took me a minute to update:

And here come the photo dumps of random parts of going back to Barcelona from Paris.




I also have a few more photos on my IG


There’s a lot to say, but at the same time not much to say…

Paris is probably the one city outside of the Bay Area I could see myself being in for a while (if given the chance).

I spent most of my time jumping on Metro trains and skating around ducking into random shops/galleries that caught my eye.

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The hostel I stayed at had some pretty cool folks working the check-in/bar.  Interestingly all of their favorite spots around Paris were all parks where they could hide from tourists (I don’t blame them).

Such a romantic city for me and my bae

I did the typical tourist traps:

Even though nobody had Americano on the menu, they all knew what I was ordering.







Royal with cheese. and beeeer.


Pho was pleasently amazing


Just when I thought I was cool. This dude shows up.



Paris was cool.  So much to see, and so much character in every corner.  The locals felt like New Yorkers – they carried themselves in a similar manner that everyone seems like they’re busy doing something — got places to be.  But pleasant after ‘breaking’ that wall.

Two and a half days was definitely not enough to explore.  I was kicking myself not joining one of those tours around the Louvre.  From peaking into some of the tours, the stories were less about the actual pieces, but moreso the importance of why they’re there and have been preserved for all these years.  It was pretty neat.


And with that I’ll leave this post with my favorite thing I saw in Paris.

I half-assed wish I knew more about this piece in particular.  But I loved the imagery this piece showed.

Back to Barcelona I go.