Owning a classic or vintage car can be a hassle if you are not savvy enough to source for the age old parts giving its life away the minute you crank on the ignition but definitely would be a dream come true if you can bring it up back to shape better than its showroom conditions back in the old days. So we’ve found one that is in its transformation into a muscle car, the Japanese way.
It happened on a fine night at a car wash venue where we saw it parked nicely in the inner garage. It so happens that the car belongs to the owner of the car wash venue in Ampang who is also a car enthusiast and owned a lot of cool looking cars in almost every segment. Apart from the 1976 Celica ST you see here, he owns other classics too, like the Volkwagen Kombi Type 2 (T2) and the Beetle. He also has a Ferarri. The 430 mind you. A spanking new Land Rover Evoque and a German muscle Audi RS6 to name a few. So here you know he is definitely into cars. And what better way to wash these cars than washing it at your own car washing business.
Back to the Celica, the car’s interior and exterior has been restored in good shape from scratch. This includes tweaks on the paint job and rust control which is the most vital things you need to attend to if you are into restoration projects such as these. Only thing is that the engine which is the 18R-G TwinCam engine with a Yamaha head and running gear and has a peak power at about 100 kW (134 hp) at 6,000 rpm had to be replaced with newer generation engine with more torque to it. Take it like a heart transplant thingy. So for ol skool Celica purist might hate the next few sentences because he had plonked in a Nissan engine instead. There. Done. Said it.
Taken account of the weight distribution and power, he chose to have the SR20 (I know it’s just a four cylinder, not some monstrous V configurated engine, but it’s a Japanese, they are, err…small), insanely retarded with a 272 degree cams, strengthen veins with Samco hoses and pipings at 3.5 inches to the back. While the breathing systems assisted by HKS to the tornado-like Garret turbine and the orgasmic blow-offs come from Sard. Cooled with a custom made intercooler out on the front, the Celica has a healthy 320 brake horsepower controlled with the Nissan G90 electronic control unit.
And with all those torque, he fitted in some wide rubbers all around with Kumho Ecsta Supra 235/40z on a 17 inch Advan Racing offset wheels at the rear and 215/45z at the front. These strong grippy tyres on all fours is held stronghold by TEIN adjustables and the muscle car stance is complete. With the grunt from the engine, you don’t need music in the car. The grumble, the popping, not forgetting the roar is music itself to the ears and terror to the next car by the road.
Speaking of the interior, you can help it but to feel awesome in the GTR34 half bucket seats, holding the MOMO Racing Line steering greeted with meters on the A pillars. There, you’ll see Defi full range of essential gauges such as oil temperature, exhaust temperature, turbo meter and differential pressure. By the dashboard you’ll have Apex’i auto timer, and the ever-so-important RSM (excellent figures here but we can’t tell you, or else we gotta find elsewhere to wash our cars) and the AFC Neo to sums it up. And to finish off the project, he add on some carbon fibre side mirrors and some chrome trims to have that ol skool but yet race prep looking to it.
To show off those 320 horses, he did a burn out on the already wet floor of his car wash. And he said that is one of the reason why he bought the car wash business from the previous owner. To do burn outs. Really? We’ve enjoyed it nonetheless to see the restored muscle from Japan, to hear it roars although differently and to feel its awesome presence amongst the new and modern rides you can see everyday. Now go flex those muscle out in the open!
words: Jeo pix: Damion Chee