For the love of Levin

Wani Roslan

The Toyota Corolla Levin AE111 BZ-R is quite a rare car as only a few can be found in the sultanate. Produced between 1995-2000, it is the most-loved car of local auto aficionado Mohammad Ariff bin Haji Zaini, who has owned one for 10 years.

Bought in 2010 from the first owner, the car had never been modified. The two-door coupe was originally equipped with a 4A-FE 1.6 engine and automatic transmission before it was converted to six-speed manual-transmission. Today, it is still in tip-top condition.

As a Toyota car-enthusiast, he converted the engine to a 4A-GE (20v) Black-Top, which is the car’s original engine specification, according to the Japanese model.

“The original (4A-FE) engine overheated, the head gasket was leaky and a few other problems which caused the engine to break down,” he said. “Because of that, I fully converted it to a 4A-GE engine (half-cut).” He further upgraded his car to a 7A-GE 1.8L engine, for a bit of extra power and torque.

Regarding car maintenance, he spent thousands to keep his Levin in top condition as maintaining a car over 20 years is not easy.

Toyota Corolla Levin AE111 BZ-R. PHOTOS: MOHAMMAD ARIFF BIN HAJI ZAINI
Mohammad Ariff bin Haji Zaini upgraded his Toyota Corolla Levin’s engine to a 7A-GE 1.8L engine

“If there is a problem with my car, I won’t leave it for a few days or weeks. I will check it by myself and take it to the workshop because I believe the longer you stall, more problems will arise,” he said.

He said the accessories and parts of his car can be obtained from Malaysia, Thailand and Japan. Some parts can also be found in certain shops in Brunei.

“I have friends in Malaysia and Thailand. If I want to get car parts, I simply liaise with them,” he added.

Mohammad Ariff fixed his own car with the help from his friends, and only sends his vehicle to a workshop if the car has major problems that need specific equipment. Apart from the Toyota Levin AE111BZ-R, he previously owned several cars including Toyota Levin AE86, Toyota Levin AE92, Toyota Levin AE101, Honda DC2 Integra, Lexus Altezza IS200 (Japan spec), Toyota Caldina GT-4 ST246, Toyota Caldina G-TT, Toyota MR-2 SW-20, Toyota Land Cruiser Mark-II, Toyota Caldina ST241 and Honda EP-3 Type R. He currently owns an Audi A3 S-Line.

“I only kept most of the cars for a while because I don’t have space to keep all of them. I ended up letting them go,” he said. “The only car that I don’t want to let go is my Toyota Levin AE111.”

He said, “Some cars that I bought attracted people from Malaysia. They asked me to sell it because they know those cars are pretty rare.”

Every car has its own special feature, he said. “I don’t see Levin as a classic car even though its age is between 20–25 years.

“It does not look old which makes it unique, and it has a sporty look which is still in trend.”
Ever since he bought it, he has been delighted to share that the car has never troubled him.

“This model is beautiful, and it looks like an S15 Silvia. It is underrated and a lot of people do not even know this model exists,” he added.