TRUE TO THE ROOTS

WHEN LIFE GETS IN THE WAY, TAKE A BREAK AND RE­GROUP

Super Street - - Superstreetgarage.com - WORDS Ro­drez PHO­TOS Patrick Lauder

Thir­teen years ago, this ’75 Toy­ota Cel­ica was nowhere near the sort of con­di­tion that has you gen­tly shak­ing your head while ad­mir­ing just how clean and well-ex­e­cuted it really is. A pro­ject, in the most bla­tant of terms, is how builder Kong Vue viewed it. The trans­ac­tion was made—the car run­ning on its own power, at that time with an 8-valve 18R-g—and it was taken home where Kong and his four cousins would be­gin the long, wind­ing road to­ward cre­at­ing a high-level resto­mod.

As with most old-school chas­sis builds, strip­ping down the en­tire car, top to bot­tom, was at the top of the pri­or­ity list. This gave Kong and his cousins the abil­ity to see past mis­takes, any hid­den prob­lems, and, most im­por­tantly, al­low proper prep for a fu­ture in the paint booth. With all the dents, dings, and 30 years of life cleared off the car’s sur­face, a healthy slather­ing of gun­metal paint (sourced from an ’06 Corvette) was ap­plied, and the body looked far bet­ter than any fin­ish you’d find in the mid’70s. Avid Cel­ica afi­ciona­dos will also rec­og­nize the tail­light con­ver­sion from a ‘71 model. To com­ple­ment the fresh color change, a set of staggered 15-inch SSR Longchamps was added to main­tain that nos­tal­gic Ja­panese look and feel. In­side, the front door pan­els and rear pan­els re­ceived a re­uphol­stered fin­ish, and an ar­ray of Au­tome­ter gauges was added just be­hind the wood­grain Nardi steer­ing wheel.

All was right with the buildup ex­cept for one thing: The Cel­ica still didn’t run. “The car didn’t run un­til 2010. After col­lege, my cousins and I all went our sep­a­rate ways, and we didn’t get to fin­ish it un­til much later,” Kong re­calls. Like many en­thu­si­asts, life tends to get in the way of long-winded week­end wrench ses­sions, so the en­gine—ar­guably the best part of this en­tire pro­ject—had to be put on the back­burner un­til the group was able to join forces again.

We’ve fea­tured a num­ber of Toy­ota’s well-known ’70s icon in the past. Some have fea­tured Nis­san SR20DET en­gine swaps, oth­ers have opted for Honda’s high-revving F20C from the S2000. Kong, on the other hand, can’t re­late to cross-plat­form trans­plants. “I just don’t get those types of swaps. With my car, I wanted to keep a Toy­ota en­gine un­der the Toy­ota hood. We wanted to go with a fourth-gen­er­a­tion 3S-GTE.”

The group’s idea was to opt for an en­gine Toy­ota re­lied on for the ground­break­ing All­trac, mi­nus the weight as­so­ci­ated with such a com­plex drivetrain. “Weight re­duc­tion and power was the key.” Swap­ping and up­ping the power ante of­ten means cus­tom fab­ri­ca­tion, and Kong’s Cel­ica was no ex­cep­tion.

On the ex­haust side, be­tween the head and the Tur­bo­net­ics T3/T4 turbo sits a cus­tom ex­haust man­i­fold. On the other side, a cus­tom in­take man­i­fold at­tached to an In­finiti Q45 throt­tle body di­rects the forced air. A TIAL 38mm waste­gate and Greddy blow-off valve cough and whis­tle, and up front two more cus­tom pieces, the ra­di­a­tor and in­ter­cooler, help to cool things down. A cus­tom fuel cell joined by a Bosch 044 fuel pump and Aero­mo­tive fil­ters takes care of the fu­el­ing, while a Hal­tech E8 man­ages the op­er­a­tion.

In an ef­fort to im­prove the Cel­ica’s han­dling, es­pe­cially with its new­found power, a cus­tom rear axle was joined by one-off coilovers and a set of four-link bars. Techno Toy Tun­ing cam­ber plates were added and the ride height di­aled in. Fi­nally, Wil­wood’s Big Brake kit and a cus­tom rear disc con­ver­sion added a new level of safety.

Not un­like most deep builds, the garage hours turned into days, then weeks, and with life get­ting in the way, the years be­gan pil­ing up. The fact that Kong and his cousins were able to pick up where they left off and fin­ish a pris­tine resto­mod drives home the point that good things come to those who wait.

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