Lola The Corolla

Lola 2007 – ∞

This post is to Lola, my beloved Corolla.

Many of you know how much this hunk of metal has meant to me.  For those not in the know, she’s been a solid constant in my life the past near 12 years now.  Well, mostly a not so much a solid constant, but she’s been something that’s always been around (half that time being broken).  She’s been solid source of what has made me, me.  Broken motors, sideways off tracks, banging redlines, more broken stuff, all that.

Lola’s current status: Mostly broken

(thx to

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

2007 – 2009ish

I was pretty green then.

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 (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*.

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

My DIY strut bar.

First motor swap.

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

2010 – …2014? …  

After getting the hang of Lola just breaking things all the time, I started driving a bit more seriously.  And I started feeling more and more like a cool guy.  

The better I got, the lower I went!

Maybe a little too low?

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 I’m going with, and I’m sticking with it.

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 maybe a little too much). 
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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