When people spend thousands of dollars enhancing their car, there’s usually
some kind of ‘connection’ with the vehicle. It might have a sentimental appeal,
they might like the image it projects or quite simply it might give the biggest
bang for buck.
Well, Matthew X’s Toyota Seca CSi is an exception. Matthew tells us the car
came into his possession when his aunt handed it to him ‘not running’. After
transporting the vehicle home, the reason for the Seca’s immobility was soon
It had a flat battery.
Matthew can’t help laughing when he tells this story and, to this date, he has
cunningly avoided telling auntie what was actually wrong (so keep this to
Once the Seca fired into life with its new battery, Matthew was able to enjoy
the awesome performance from its carby 1.6 litre engine. Er-hum. At this
stage, it was more important to address the looks department – hubcaps and a
standard ride height aren’t exactly the kind of things that come to you in
dreams... In the first instance, Matthew whacked on a set of 17 inch Shooting
Star rims along with custom lowered springs.
This was a good start but the aged standard maroon paint was a big turn off.
Fortunately, Matthew’s a pretty handy kinda guy so he proceeded to strip the car
back to its bare essentials before getting his brother to stir together a custom
purple paint mix. This was sprayed by a nearby panel beater and Matthew put
everything back together.
And the result? Well, pretty much what you see here – undoubtedly the most
bad-ass looking Toyota Seca in Australia! The only recent body alteration is a
set of 18 inch Zenetis wearing 225/35 rubber. Matthew likes to change wheels on
a regular basis and says the 225/35 18s are a very tight squeeze under
the rolled guards. Yep, this car is rubber’d to the max!
With the body lookin’ top-notch, it wasn’t the engine that came in next for
mods – it was more urgent to fix the interior.
Have a look inside and you’ll see a custom cream/yellow leather and blue
suede covering the dashboard, console, door trims, roof lining and seats. The
seats, by the way, are reshaped versions of the standard seats – and you’d never
guess it! A Momo timber steering wheel, aftermarket shift knob and a trio of
AutoMeter gauges (oil pressure, water temp and boost pressure) finish things off
And we mustn’t gloss over the spectacular audio/visual system.
Open the rear hatch and you’ll find a pair of 12 inch Sony Xplod sub woofers,
Sony 6 x 9s and a big 1200W 4 channel amplifier integrated with the new interior
colour scheme. Up front there’s a CD/DVD unit with a flip-down LCD monitor. And,
not to be outdone, Matthew also fitted a giant 16 inch LCD flip-down television
screen that’s mounted on the underside of the roof – watching it is sorta like
sitting in the front row seat at the cinema!
And now, yep, it was time to fix the engine performance.
Matthew handed the car to V&E Rigoli who proceeded to remove the factory
motor to make space for a 4A-GZE import engine. Matthew wanted somewhere around
150kW (200hp) at the wheels so it was decided they’d remove the factory
supercharger (which can be unreliable at such high power levels) and run the
low-comp engine with a custom turbocharger set-up.
V&E Rigoli fabricated a custom exhaust manifold from steam pipe and
mounted a Garrett T28 turbocharger alongside a TurboSmart 38mm external
wastegate. The exhaust system is a mandrel 3 incher fabricated by V&E, while
the intake side of things is taken care of by a K&N filter mounted ahead of
the left front wheel.
With the big wastegate set to give two different boost levels (11 psi and 15
psi) via a TurboXS bleed, there’s a need for good intercooling. V&E fitted a
custom polished front-mount ‘cooler and mandrel pipework. Note that an Odyssey
battery was required to provide clearance for the intercooler pipes and the
standard front bumper got the chop to fit the core. Other engine bay goodies
include a TurboXS blow-off valve and an oil catch can.
The 4A-GZE was purchased from an engine importer minus its associated
ECU so the task of controlling ignition timing and fuel delivery was handed to an
EMS programmable system. Note that V&E also converted to an EFI Seca fuel
tank and high pressure pump. Oh, and while the car was up on the hoist and the
back-end was pulled apart, the existing drum brakes were replaced by discs as
fitted to more upmarket Seca models. A high quality set of brake pads were also
The engine is mated to the factory Seca 5 speed using a heavy-duty clutch
and, so far, there haven’t been any problems breaking gears – but the selector
forks are a different story. Matthew says he’s pretty fast and furious
changing gears - and this photo shows the result! A distinct lack of traction
undoubtedly helps the gearbox survive its torque loading – Matthew says there’s
not a lot of hook-up through first and second gears. A LSD is on the wish-list
for the near future.
Poor traction comes as no surprise given the amount of power this
front-wheel-drive Seca is punching out – 151kW (203hp) at the wheels on the
V&E Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno, which translates to roughly three
times the stock output! Matthew tells us he uses the car on a regular basis
and, aside from selector forks, it’s been extremely reliable. How well the
gearbox will hold up when a LSD and sticky tyres are fitted is the big question
– it’s likely some strengthening will be required to run Matthew’s 12 second
quarter mile goal.
Whatever time the car runs, you can bank on the engine soon receiving an
all-out performance build along with a bigger turbo. Matthew says the body could
also do with another freshen up – a respray in the same high-impact colour along
with maybe shaved door handles and gutter lines.
Matthew says he’s dreaming of a 10 second Seca; just so long as the battery
has enough juice to crank the engine over...
+61 2 9756 3413