1700hp Barra-powered Toyota KE20 Corolla

This 1700hp Barra-powered Corolla is heading for bottom sevens

Photographers: Steve Kelly

Since this yarn appeared in our July 2022 issue, Guy has toppled his PB again, sending the ‘Rolla to a frightening 7.51@191mph at Willowbank Raceway!

“We have definitely tapped out on our 7.5 tech,” Guy said. “It’s time for some floaters and some weight on the nose before Jamboree. Next stop, 200mph club!”

First published in the July 2022 issue of Street Machine

Historically, Toyota’s legendary Corolla has not exactly been a model that conjures up images of brute horsepower. It hasn’t been until the past few years that these former granny-packs or inner-city commuters have found their way into performance circles, as stock of more desirable muscle car platforms dries up.

Burnout stalwart Andrew Lynch has certainly upped the model’s reputation for insanity with his tip-ins on the pad, but for sheer driving madness, the little KE20 Corolla of Queensland’s Guy King gives Lynchy a run for his money.

The old Toyota catchcry of ‘Oh, what a feeling!’ has never been more appropriate. Stuffed with 1700 horses worth of nitrous-injected Barra badness, Guy’s Corolla weighs four-fifths of bugger-all. It’s a recipe for quick ETs.

Guy’s been partial to ’Rollas ever since piloting a KE55 as his first set of wheels. “I’ve always loved them, and when I came across this 1974-model KE20 for sale in Melbourne with an RB30, I had to have it,” he says.

“It came with problems, and lots of them. Mechanically it was a wreck. It had a hurt engine, and I had to change out the ECU and upgrade the fuel system.”

Guy eventually got the issues ironed out and raced the car for two years with the single-overhead-cam RB30, force-fed by a GTX42/45 hybrid turbo and running on E85. In that guise, it belted out a hefty 1000rwhp. With the car weighing in at just 1100kg, it ran an 8.4@163mph on a 275 radial – until it all went pear-shaped.

“I lost an injector at the track and burnt a hole in the piston,” Guy recalls. “I was at a juncture as to which way to go moving forward: Do I swap to a twin-cam head, which meant that I could only use the block, crank and rods and would have to redo the whole hot and cold side, or do I switch to something else?

“My sights were set on running a seven with the car, so I needed to go bigger. We tried a number of engine combinations to see what would work best, and after trying an LS and a 1FZ, I went with the Barra. It’s what my tuner, Jamie from Forced Performance & Tuning, builds and tunes, so it made sense, and we could keep it under the bonnet.”

The 4.0-litre Barra combination, built by TBRE Performance in Toowoomba, is a monster aimed squarely at the 2000hp mark. The factory block has been partially grouted and fitted with a billet crank and upgraded girdle, Spool conrods and CP pistons. The factory head has been ported by the TBRE team and fitted with their stage-five cams.

Other upgrades include a HP Junkie billet internal oil pump and a mechanical, belt-driven Enderle 110 fuel pump that runs directly off the rear tank, with an electric primer pump to help start the motor. The main fuel line is –16, and the motor is also equipped with a direct-port nitrous system and 12 Siemens 2400cc injectors, which are currently flowing E85 with a Turbosmart fuel-pressure regulator.

Electrically, this car has all the bells and whistles. While the motor still uses the standard factory Ford coils, they are fitted with two M&W Ignition CDI igniter boxes. The ECU is the latest Haltech Nexus, with a 30-channel PDM, MoTeC C125 dash, and every sensor you can imagine: EGTs, coolant pressure, e-map, transmission-cooler line, wheel speed, shock, and even a wheelie sensor that pulls out power when the car gets up and out of shape.

The Barra is mated to a Powerglide by Gilroy’s Race Transmissions with a Reid case and extension housing, 1.80 straight-cut gearset, 10-clutch top gear drum, twin dump valves by Gilroy’s and one of their custom 93/4-inch converters.

While the Corolla did come with a nine-inch rear end, it’s about to be upgraded to a Race Products full-floater, supplied assembled with 35-spline axles, a Strange Ultra Case bolt- through centre with 3.5:1 Pro gears, Wilwood brakes and all the bracketry to change from ladder-bar to four-link.

“We run the five-inch AFCO Big Guns, and the shock sensor tells us we are at our limit,” Guy says. “So when we swap over the rear end shortly, we will move to a seven-inch AFCO for more extension.

“The biggest challenge with the car has been getting it to half-track. We have gone 1.24 in the 60-foot so far, which is okay, but not great. We have been 7.70@186mph over the quarter-mile, but we need to be doing better than 4.92@153mph to the eighth, and keeping the front of the car down has been the main issue.

“Our next move will be to add weight to the front of the car and swap out the old Pedders springs and shocks, as the wheelie sensor is constantly knocking power out of the pass.”

Once those changes have been made, Guy is hoping for low sevens and around 190mph on E85 at the next meet. “Power-wise, this is around 1700hp, and we’ll soon make the move to alcohol to bump that up to 2000,” he says.

The switch to the Barra from the Nissan and some upgraded safety gear have added a bit more weight to the car, but in race trim it’s still only around 1200 kilos, and it’s soon to be shoved along by 2000hp! “I constantly remind myself that this car came from the factory with 40hp and struggled to do 90mph, but it’s currently at 1700hp and heading for 2000 at 200mph,” Guy laughs.

“I wanted to build something that would scare me, and yeah, it’s getting there,” he continues. “You certainly know you’re alive when you let go of the button on the startline!

“There is not much real estate in the front of these cars, and one of the biggest challenges has been planning where everything goes. You really need to be thinking five steps ahead – like the number-six cylinder, which we fitted a removable panel to access, and the radiator, which we have moved to just in front of the diff under the car.

“This isn’t just an all-out drag car but something I can drive everywhere, like roll racing, Powercruise and Powerplay,” Guy continues. “It does what any normal car does, and does it well.”