August 04, 2020 By Francis G. Pallarco Photos: Randy Silva Netto

Tuner: Sonic Wagon

We need more wagons like this

Depending on one’s taste, this particular car body style is classified either as a; station wagon, estate or shooting brake. Its unique body style is highly associated with family out of town trips, loading supermarket bags, taking the dog to see the vet and more. Family related activities that strongly explain why car enthusiasts continue to revere the station wagon. Sadly, such cars have been replaced with minivans and SUV’s. But it doesn’t seem to stop certain individuals from pursuing their wagon-esque passions. Just ask Alex Lim who didn’t pass up the chance to own one when a Dubai-Spec ’94 Corolla wagon import came up for sale.

Just like other iterations of Toyota’s best-selling nameplate, the seventh-generation Corolla also featured a four-door station wagon. Sadly, this variant never made it onto our local car market. As far as I can recall, station wagons were still being sold during the eighties, but it eventually lost its appeal when the minivan and the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) became more practical.

Aside from its rarity and uniqueness in our local car scene, what’s great about this nineties-era wagon is that it’s not old enough to be considered as a classic nor is it modern enough. But apart from its time period, its overall build quality really speaks for itself, everything on this wagon looks so right, there’s nothing that looks out of place. A neat and clean build is always the first thing that comes to mind when anyone sees it.

But it wasn’t that way when they got hold of it. A lot of work and parts sourcing went to achieve its current status as Alex explains, “Being a base-model, XLi variant, it didn’t have any power options like power windows and side mirrors. So, we upgraded most of it along with the rest of the interior with JDM pieces.” Apart from the TRD gauge panel and the Recaro SR3 front seats, most of the interior pieces were handpicked from a Corolla BZ Touring variant. The result is a pristine looking interior that merely sitting inside is like being transported back to the nineties when the “Big-Body” Corolla broke into the local car scene.


Exterior-wise, the entire wagon body has been kept all-original, but that didn’t stop Alex from adding a Toyota Corolla GT front bumper, a rare GT front lip and side skirts from a BZ Touring variant. Achieving an impeccable custom refinish is no easy task as this one includes the wagon’s underside. But thanks to the efforts of HQ Restorations, the paint execution is spot on while the custom midnight blue metallic color perfectly matches the overall shape and build theme of this wagon.

Under the hood, the original 4AFE engine was swapped with a 20-valve, 4AGE “Blacktop” that provides more power. Owing to the build quality invested by HQ Restorations, the whole engine bay looks factory stock down to every nut and bolt and it’s as if it left the factory that way. Underneath the car, the suspension is all Corolla-spec with front struts and rear links so it’s easy to maintain and find parts. In order to make it handle better and dial-in the desired ride height, the stock dampers have been replaced with Dynamics (Streetspecs) Coilovers that’s fully height adjustable including the damping levels. Under the fenders are 17-inch, Zepter, 3-piece wheels by Work, which happens to be one of his favorite rims from his childhood. Unbelievably, these are brand-new, old stock wheels that they just happened to stumble upon stashed away. Talk about luck!

Overall, this amazing wagon build is something hard to top or let alone emulate as it excels in almost every aspect. It even won 3rd place in its class during the recently held Trans Sport Show that says a lot about how everything was put together. Having retained its functionality, as a wagon while increasing its fun factor by more than tenfold makes it really hard not to appreciate this build and ultimately want one.


1994 Toyota Corolla XLi Wagon

(Dubai version Original Left Hand Drive)

Alexander Allison Lim

Engine 4AGE 20-Valve, blacktop

Engine Mods TRD Front Upper Strut Bar, TRD High Tension Wires TRD Spark Plugs, TRD Thermostat

Transmission 6-Speed Manual

Interior Mods: TRD Instrument Cluster, TRD Center Panel carbon Fiber Trim Recaro SR3 ‘Confetti’ Seats, BZ Touring Rear Seats BZ Touring Tonneau Cover, BZ Touring (front/rear) Sidings BZ Touring Rear Trunk Matting

Car Audio System Alpine Headunit, Focal front Separates, Focal rear Coaxial Speakers, Alpine Underseat Powered Subwoofer

Suspension & Brakes Dynamics Performance Streetspecs Coilovers BZ Touring Front Disc Brakes

Rollers Work Zepter Wheels (17×7/et40) Toyo DRB Tires (205/40/17)

Exterior Mods Corolla GT front Lip, Corolla GT front Bumper BZ Touring side skirts, Brand new Headlight Brand new Corner Light and Bumper Light

Body and Paint Custom Metallic Blue Refinish by HQ Restorations

Kudos To Leonard Lim, Bodz Garcia, Noli Cabreros of HQ Restoration, Buff n’ Grime Glasscoating by Johnd Santos, Dynamics Coilovers, Pau & Patrick Miranda of Pristine Products & Interior Upholstery Henry Bird for Emtrac Battery, Nad lang of Glasspro Glass Detailing, Glenn Porcalla and Nonoy Lee for my OEM parts, Jdmunderground, Grupo Toyota,

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