Thursday, February 15, 2018

Turbo Sleeper: 2009 Toyota Corolla

Sometimes a car is so plain that it's worth writing about. If you were looking at a stock 2009 Corolla then this would not be one of those times. This particular appliance has a few secrets under the hood however, in the form of a retrofitted turbo kit and a beefed-up slushbox to handle the immense torque cranked out by 1.8 liters of boosted fury. Find this 2009 Toyota Corolla with turbo kit for sale near St. Louis, MO for $9,000 via craigslist. Tip from JG 750.

This is a 10th-generation E140 Corolla, which was built by the millions between 2006 and 2013. They are pretty unremarkable cars, albeit reliable - but most enthusiasts wouldn't give one a second look. Maybe that's warranted; they were very numb in the driver feedback department.

With a healthy multiplication of horsepower however, all of the blandness might melt away. OK, some of it...not all. The seller claims 208 hp to the wheels, up from the stock 98. The only real bummer (besides this being a 2009 Corolla) is the slushbox 4-speed automatic.

Per the page for this kit, boostage is handled by a "Custom Spec'd T28 Turbocharger" which is about as descriptive as saying this Toyota has a "4 cylinder engine." The turbo is likely a Chinese knock-off, but the benefit is low price. The kit includes an AEM piggyback fuel & ignition controller, to retard timing under boost and add fuel as appropriate. They say it includes a base map, injectors, and wiring harness, which is enough to get you driving around after a DIY installation, and over to your nearest dyno tuning shop for the finer calibration needed to keep pistons from melting into four solid slugs of aluminum.

From the seller:

Turbocharged Toyota Corolla! This car is an extremely fun and reliable daily driver. It started out as a simple Corolla LE but with the mods driving comes to life!

I take meticulous care of the vehicle including Mobil One Full Synthetic Oil Changes every 5000 miles. The car has always been garaged.

No rust and no mechanical issues!

I have the CarFax available if you email me.

Performance mods include:
Turbo Kit from TurboKits.Com (turbokits dot com/Toyota/Corolla/Turbo_Kits/TurboKits.com_Corolla_2ZR-FE_Turbo_Kit/1972/) - Took car from 98WHP to 208WHP

Turbo Back Exhaust

Rebuilt Automatic Transmission (to handle increased power)

Tein H-Tech Lowering Springs (lower center of gravity for great road grip)

Front Sway Bar & Rear Strut Brace (better cornering and handling)

Wilwood Big Brakes

Enkei 18" Rims (some curb rash)

NEW Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ Tires

Other mods include:
Sound system (Kicker ZX700.5 Amp, Kicker QS Speakers, Kenwood CarPlay Head Unit)

Subwoofers (3x 10" Alpine Type-R Subs, Alpine PDX-M12 Amp, custom sub box)

Full seat covers

Projector Head Lights

So much more!

Speaking from experience I can say that a modern FWD sport compact with a turbo kit can be a real hoot, in a "why is this dumb rental car so damn fast it shouldn't be this FAST!" kind of way. I'd strongly suggest suspension bushings & driveline upgrades though, or those front wheels are going to be bouncing all over the place in the wheelwells.

See a manual Matrix with this same turbo kit? That would be better. email us here:

CFlo is Daily Turismo's resident turbocharger engineer, but don't take his word for it.


  1. At first I thought - Pretty cool!
    Then I looked at the interior. Autotragic and 500lbs of woofers. To me this is a confusing build.

    1. I think it's for the type of person who wants to floor it on interstate on-ramps, and that's all. Cruising with the occasional tire roast for fun's sake. But FWD turbo instead of the more traditional RWD V8 muscle formula. Same thing, different execution. In my mind anyway.

      I think it'd be fun to take a 5-spd manual Corolla or Matrix and add this same turbo kit with decent suspension & brakes, for AutoX or track days.

  2. Holy torque steer Batman!

  3. All of that stopping power up front... and still with the drums in the back. I too am confused by this build.

  4. Just discovered this post. I'm actually the one who did the build on this car. It was a really fun car and a fun build. I regretted the woofers and only included them in the sale. They sat in my garage most of the time until I sold it.

    The transmission was actually quite good with the rebuild. Looked into doing a MT swap but it would've required a lot of modifications and expense.

    For the rear brakes, I was waiting for them to wear out then I was planning a rear axle swap with a Corolla XRS which is the only good way to do rear disc brakes.

    But all that said, it had great cornering ability and cars I'd lose to in straight line racing I'd beat with any cornering involved. Kind of miss this car now that I see this post.

    1. Awesome, I applaud the work put into it. Very original.


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