The Aussie family car is a popular base for local performance build-ups –
fast Falcons and crazy Commodores abound. But what about the other local family
Well, Lawrence X proves there is life beyond Falc-odores!
Check out Lawrence’s 1996 Toyota Camry – it’s almost certainly the wildest
example in Australia. From its custom paint and bodywork to its leather trim and
turbocharged engine, this Camry is every bit a rival for modified Falcons and
Lawrence purchased this Camry CSi (chassis code SVX10) about 5 years ago as a
family run-around. Back then, this white-like-a-household-appliance Camry stood
humbly on its hub-capped wheels. But it wasn’t long before Lawrence chucked on a
set of aftermarket wheels and a high-flow exhaust.
Just these basic mods gave the Camry a big improvement, but the standard 2.2
litre four (coded 5S-FE) lacked the grunt to tackle other local sedans. And
here’s where a turbocharger enters the equation.
Lawrence considered dropping in a Toyota turbocharged 2.0 litre (a 3S-GTE)
but decided to try something different – turbocharging the factory 2.2. In the
first instance, an extra injector and micro-fueller went on to provide increased
fuel flow at high engine load. However, a couple of years after this set-up was
installed, a piston ring broke and Lawrence decided to start again.
Time for a proper engine build.
Lawrence had Warren from WM (Warren Molloy) Motorsport haul out the original
engine and rebuilt it with 7.4:1 forged pistons, later model floating conrods,
an ARP stud kit and ARP rod bolts. The 16-valve head was also modified and
ported before being installed on a multi-layer 3S-GTE steel gasket.
Interestingly, a Celica GT4 sump fits straight on the 5S-FE bottom-end – this
gives increased oil capacity and baffling. The standard engine’s balance gears
were also removed – Warren says he balanced the engine internals and there’s no
noticeable effect on NVH. An ARE oil breather is also fitted along with a new
washer tank and radiator header tank.
Warren says the angled-back engine position creates a heap of space for a
sexy looking custom exhaust manifold. As you can see, long length runners have
been used to give maximum visual appeal. This mounts a GT25/28 ball-bearing
turbocharger, which gives an excellent combination of boost response and
top-end power. A custom dump pipe leads into a 3 ¼ inch exhaust system with a 3
inch high-flow cat converter. A relatively quiet 8 x 4 inch TRR muffler is used with a subtle(?!) 5 ½ inch tip.
On the intake side of things, there’s a pod filter mounted in the guard and,
a little further downstream, an ARE air-to-air intercooler with a 60mm thick
core. A TurboSmart Type 2 blow-off valve is also fitted along with a ‘Boost T’
to give up to 16 psi manifold pressure. The inlet manifold and throttle remain
Controlling the fuel and ignition is an EMS Stinger 2.1 programmable
management system. The fuel system kicks off with a Walbro 550 pump teamed with
Series 5 Mazda RX-7 injectors and the standard Camry pressure reg. The ignition
Backing the turbocharged 2.2 litre is a standard replacement Camry 5-speed
manual gearbox – the first unit suffered an exploded diff... The clutch is a 30
percent upgraded Exedy unit intended for a ST205-series Celica and the standard
axles haven’t given any problem.
The highly modified state of the engine should come as no surprise given this
Camry’s wild body and exterior – there’s nothing that’s been left
The normally conservative Camry lines have been reworked using a modified
Trust front bumper (which was originally intended for a R32 GT-R), R34 Skyline
skirts (cut and reshaped), a Camry ‘T-Bar’ at the rear, chromed wiper arms and
headlight eyelids. The bonnet has also been treated to a custom air vent and
raised TRD letters in the metal – Lawrence makes the point that it’s not a cheap
an’ easy fibreglass job. The paint is a custom mix that’s based on Ford’s
XR-series Blueprint Blue with added red pearl and flake. Looks good, eh?
A set of Ferretti 18 inch rims wearing Falken ZE326 225/40s capably fill the
guards and, as you’ve probably already noticed, the car rides low. Very low.
Lawrence has gone for a Pedders suspension upgrade comprising adjustable
coil-overs, front and rear camber kits and a front strut brace. The brakes have
also been tweaked – there are quality aftermarket pads, drilled discs at the
front and slotted discs at the rear.
Indoors, the standard Camry CSi trim is nothing but a memory. From top to
bottom, the cab is re-trimmed in grey/white soft leather. The seats are
re-bolstered versions of the originals and you’ll also appreciate the custom
floor mats, matching painted steering wheel and dash and custom hood lining with
a raised Toyota emblem. A new set of gauges has also been roped in – boost, oil
pressure, water temperature, battery voltage and a giant tachometer. Tunes are
pushed from JVC front splits and rear 6 x 9s, a pair of JVC amps and a 15 inch
With absolutely no effort to reduce weight or enhance the chassis for drag
racing, the Camry’s best quarter mile time to date is a 14.0 at 106 mph. Note,
however, this was achieved on worn street tyres and standard suspension – a 13
second pass seems like a definite. This is further justified when you consider
this Camry rips out 178kW at the wheels (on a Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno) along
with super-strong torque through the rev range.
Lawrence is more than happy with the performance of his Camry and the amount
of attention that it creates - even during a mundane run to the shop. Still,
Lawrence wouldn’t mind moving on to something else and he is contemplating
selling this beast. If you’re prepared to make an offer around AUD$34,000, you
can get in contact with Lawrence through
Thirty-four grand might seem a lot - but consider what some people are
prepared to spend on their Falcons and Commodores!
WM (Warren Molloy) Motorsport
+61 7 3205 1951