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AE95 Corolla 4WD Wagon - Gezza the 7AFE Offroader!


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I've built another AE95.

Bagging and painting my first wagon was cool but some years later I needed something less subtle to go camping and exploring in. My goal is to build an adventure wags.

4AGZE bagged wagon build here.

My Instagram feed with numerous Gezza photos.

The Beginning:

In March 2015, I happen to hear word on the FB grapevine of a corolla wagon that had been sitting on a driveway for years. A bit of investigation and a site visit landed myself another corolla wagon for the tidy sum of $150. A budget buy deserved an ultra budget build.
How I found the new wagon (sitting for 5 years)


Shortly after picking up the wagon, I happen to also barter a granny spec 1.8L 7AFE engine from a later gen AE112 Corolla. This was the beginning of the budget build.

Edited by Kebin
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Reach For The Sky:

Next on the agenda was ground clearance. Low wasn't the go this time around so I put together a 3" lift kit on the cheap from ideas I found researching the Alltrac and Subaru forums.

For the front end I took a second pair of old strut tops from an AE92 and welded a piece of steam pipe in between the original top and the second top to form the 3" lift.


When reinstalling the front struts you will need to replace the top bolt of each hub with camber bolts to allow further camber adjustment due to introduced positive camber caused by the suspension lift. I had the correct camber dialed in when I took Gezza for a final wheel alignment.
Standard bolt on the left. Camber bolt on the right.

For the rear end was straight forward. Ford EL Falcon rear springs and 1st gen Rav4 rear shocks are 3" taller than the original AE95 parts.

Edited by Kebin
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Preparing for the Engine Swap

The original 1.6L 4AFE engine that came with the wagon was perfectly fine besides needing a water pump. I went ahead with the plan to swap in the later model 'big block' 1.8L 7AFE engine due to lower kms and that tiny bit more torque which suited my application. A quick tidy up of the new motor was all that was needed.

A major service was carried out.

A new clutch kit along with the freshly blasted,painted and machined flywheel

Fresh front drive shafts.

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The Engine Swap

The 7A engine block already has a notch in its design which makes it transfer case friendly with minimal grinding of the block as opposed to the 4AG blocks which need a lot 'meat' ground off the block to allow room for the transfer case to bolt up.

Dropping the original engine out.

4AFE on the left, 7AFE on the right ready to go in.

Rolling the new setup in.

7AFE bolted in.

Some differences:
A comparison of smallport 4AGE exhaust flanges compared to 7AFE.

The AE95 throttle cable is not long enough to reach the 7AFE throttle body. The AE112 throttle cable fits straight in.

The lower exhaust header pipe which connects the headers to the rear exhaust is distinctly different on the AE95 so that it clears the transfer case. The 7AFE secondary exhaust has to be modified to connect up to the rest of the AE95 exhaust as well as 02 sensor placement.

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Wiring in the 7AFE

My favorite part of the swap but usually the most hated part of everyone else's build... go figure.

Some good friends at Toyota were kind enough to lend me the AE112 Corolla workshop manuals to gain all the wiring diagrams I needed. I pinned out the AE112 engine wiring harness and found that it was not laid out like the AE95 harness. 

The easiest way to make it plug and play was to strip both and graft the main AE95 body wiring into the AE112 harness. This would make it plug and play into the AE95 chassis.

The original 4AFE engine harness.

The 7AFE engine harness stripped down with most of the unnecessary circuits stripped.

The final 7AFE engine wiring harness plug and play into AE95.

The plug connectors in the cabin. The lower three plug connectors are the left over unused AE112 wiring left there for future use if needed i.e. gauge wiring.

The AE112 engine ecu has a factory immobilizer built in. It needs to be wired in so that the engine ecu see's a valid key or else the engine won't run. I wired in the immobilizer unit with key+reader and tucked the lot under the dash.

I mounted the engine ecu as high as possible for those times of aquatic adventures :)

Wiring harness installed and majority of engine bay finished.

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Front Brake Upgrade

I had some leftover slotted discs and calipers from an AE111 Corolla 20V Blacktop kicking around. They are slightly bigger than the original AE95 brakes and require minimum 14" wheels to clear.
After a quick sand blast and coat of paint they were fitted up with no dramas. The only tricky part was swapping over the back plates on the hubs.

Swapping over the AE111 backing plates onto the AE95 hubs.

I did some research on bigger tires and worked out what would be the widest diameter tire that would still fit comfortably within the wheel arches.
Standard tire size diameter:
175/70R13 = 575.2mm
Larger tire diameters:
Winter retread tires
185R14C LT = 648mm (195/75R14)
205/65R15 = 668mm
195/70R15 LT = 654mm

I settled for the 185R14C truck tires so it should be interesting to see how these go and how long they last!

Also got some Honda Jazz 14" steel wheels painted up to go with the fresh 185R14C retreads.

Brake upgrade installed with fresh brake hoses. Straight forward bolt on.

Tyres fitted and rego established.

The new tires together with the suspension mods measures about 4" of lift over the standard height :)

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Diff Mods

Since I raised the suspension by 3" the diff sat over to one side. I was able to center the diff by modifying the panhard rod using a bolt and two nuts welded in so I can adjust the length to suit.

The future adventure plan may include aquatic activities. The standard diff breather would not be suffice. A remote setup was easy enough to achieve by methods of extension into the cabin using hose and and carby fuel filter.

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Toyotafest #13

The goal was to get Gezza to Toyotafest 2016. I pushed and achieved.
The final touch was the roof top light bar.

Had both wagons there for the show!

I even managed to meet up with the last owner who previously owned Gezza for 21 years! He came to Toyotafest to see his old trusty Corolla wagon that slowly perished in his drive way for the last 5 years get a new lease of life. He was amazed and very appreciative. Great guy.

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12 Months On..

Absolutely love this wagon! Everything about Gezza has far exceeded my expectations and has proved to be so much fun in both off-roading and urban exploring as depicted by some of these photos.


New roof basket fitted with side and rear LED floodlights.

Edited by Kebin
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  • 1 month later...


One of the things I wanted to achieve with this build was to get out of the city and go camping more often. Happy to say that I've been camping quite a few times now.


Edited by Kebin
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New Shoes and Breathing Apparatus

It was finally time to replace the tires. The retreads lasted longer than I had expected. At the same time I lined up some period correct ROH Reflex mag wheels to go with the new retread tires.

Testing out the new shoes with some of the AE95 boys.

Had some close calls during some submarine action so it was time to drop old Gezza into Performance Exhaust Centre to get a custom made snorkel sorted.

The original airbox that was removed from the bumper bar.

Edited by Kebin
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Gezza the Shelter.

Added more to the camping setup and scored a Rhino Sunseeker 1300 dome awning. Fits perfectly to to the side of the roof basket. 
Set up camp next to the Turon river within the Turon Gates campground to test it out. The dome feature works a charm with all the extra head room.


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