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Breaking convention


The Camry is a car that we don’t usually associate with high performance tuning. It’s a little bulky and it’s known more for its comfort levels and the associated prestige with owning a Camry, rather than the aggressive high-speed nature of performance cars. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t potential lying beneath the relatively plaid exterior.

At the heart of the Camry 2.4 sits a 2AZ-FE petrol engine, which was replaced by the 2.5 litre 2AR-FE powerplant in the succeeding model. In stock form, the 2AZ-FE engine produces a decent 160 or so horsepower, although there are very few options when it comes to performance modifications for the engine as it wasn’t one of their highly sought after models, and hence there are no TRD components. The engine code also reveals some of the rationale behind this: the “FE” suffix is said to represent “Family Engine”, an indication of an engine that was tuned more for reliability and efficiency than for outright power (hence the 4A-GE being much more powerful than the paltry 4A-FE, despite being quite similar).

And much like the Honda Civic EK9 also featured in these pages, in order to produce a reliable and powerful normally aspirated engine, there have to be a lot of specific components installed in order to handle that kind of power. Since no such components exist, the easier method is to bolt on a turbocharger and some supporting modifications in order to bump up the power levels to reasonable and acceptable standards. Of course there is no guarantee that the engine will take much more power, but there will definitely be a noticeable increase without significant damage to the engine.

After12 was commissioned to do most of the forced induction work, developing a custom bolt-on turbocharger system, including a hybrid turbine with an actuator. Also installed were a custom intercooler kit and a Conxept custom turbo manifold. The intercooler is necessary to keep the air charger cool as the turbocharger forces it along to the intake manifold, while the custom turbo manifold is required to increase air flow on the exhaust gas, allowing quicker spool up times. Running at high strains necessitates an oil cooler, and so a Works Engineering set was installed to preserve reliability.

With this engine rarely being found in other models, it’s difficult to source a manual transmission that fits easily. Hence, the standard 4-speed automatic transmission was kept in place, though the transmission fluid would inevitably reach temperatures too high for operation. To combat the increased heat, a Works Engineering ATF fluid cooler was also put into place, maintaining a good range of temperatures.

When adding a turbocharger to a car that isn’t normally turbocharged, or even when modifying a turbocharged car, a good bank of gauges is necessary in order to keep track of all the different parameters associated with the different components. Drift Performance makes a good set that includes boost, water temperature, oil temperature and oil pressure, which were then installed for this Camry. An M7 EM-CON engine management unit also sits in place to control the operation of the engine, while the stock tachometer is replaced by an APEXi RSM unit.

The car in its stock form is designed to be comfortable and isolated. While this is good for a luxury car, this is a bad idea for a performance car as it results in poor body control and poor feedback from the road. There is a balance necessary between feel and pliancy, where if the suspension is too stiff there will be great feel but poor pliancy, and opposite for if the suspension is too soft. To solve this, HWL adjustable suspension was installed in all four corners and ProFoam chassis strengthening was injected into the free space around the car for better rigidity. Brakes were also replaced by a VTTR six-piston big brake kit for extra stopping power.

While this Camry could have remained a sleeper car, the owner chose to ensure that people would see him coming. The Australian version of the Camry, also known as the Aurion, has received some attention from TRD in order to create a racier model. Some of these components include new bumpers and side skirts, which After12 has chose to fashion their bodykit after. Vertini 19-inch wheels were also put into place, wrapped in Nexen N6000s for the front and Toyo C1s for the rear.

Just to round out the package, some extra goodies were put into place for the interior. The regular head unit was changed for a Pioneer P80 RS II, paired with a Steg amplifier and AD component speakers. To fill in the bass is an MTX subwoofer, while an Audison processor ties the whole package together.

Hyperfacts!
Car: Toyota Camry 2.4
Engine Mods: After12 custom bolt-on turbocharger kit, After 12 hybrid turbine with actuator, After12 custom intercooler kit, Conxept custom turbo manifold, GReddy RS blow-off valve, Works Engineering oil cooler
Electronics: M7 EM-CON Apexi RSM, Drift Performance gauges (boost, water temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure)
Transmission: Works Engineering ATF cooler
Chassis & Handling: ProFoam chassis strengthening package, HWL adjustable suspension
Brakes: VTTR six-piston big brake kit
Wheels & Tyres: Vertini 19-inch wheels, Nexen N6000 245/35/19 (front) and 245/40/19 Toyo C1s (rear) tyres
Interior: Pioneer P80 RS II, Steg amplifier, AD component speakers, MTX subwoofer, Audison processor
Exterior: After12 TRD Aurion-style front bumper, After12 TRD Aurion-style rear bumper, After12 TRD Aurion-style side skirts
Garage: After12 Motorsports

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