Think of Celica's nowadays and you'll likely come up with AWD GT4s or the current VTi-L screamer. There was a time, though, when Celica was little more than a good-looking car with a dearth of power and roly-poly handling - that's the early TA-series.
Some thirty odd years after it rolled off the production line, though, this TA22 (the earliest Celica model ever imported to Australia) has undergone some major character changes....
Eddy Koimanis picked up this blue beauty about eight years ago "as a beaten up stocker that was ready to go to the wreckers." It's just as well Eddy was there to save the day. You see, Eddy had already owned a TA-series Celica with an imported 3T-GTEU 1.8-litre turbomotor in it. As you might imagine, adding more than 100 horsepower to the standard 80-odd horsepower output ensures the rear-drive Celica is a bundle of fun to pedal!
The new acquisition initially followed in the footsteps of Eddy's other Celica. The standard 1500cc 2T mill was torn out and replaced by a 3T-GTEU 1.8-litre DOHC turbo and, while he was at it, he followed through with a full body tear down and bare metal respray. The colour that hides those naked panels is "Lagoon Blue" - 70 percent blue pearl and 30 percent lilac. Eddy did all the work himself at home - as he says "not bad for a concreter by trade..."
After driving the car around with 3T power for 12 months Eddy became increasingly aware that parts for the aging JDM engine were getting hard to come by. That was a major part of the decision to upgrade to 1G-GTE 2.0-litre DOHC, 24-valve, twin-turbo six-cylinder power. The fact that the 1G motor is stronger, torquier and earlier to boost was also pretty attractive!
Dropping the 1G six into the nose of the Celica was a bit more involved than it was for the 3T. Eddy purchased an ex-Toyota Chaser engine, gearbox, computer and loom package from Sydney's SSS Automotive and got stuck into re-fabricating and relocating the engine mounts, new heater hoses, rearrangement of the steering rack, setting the radiator forward and altering the grille. The Hornet 85mm bonnet scoop was necessary for clearance.
Impressively, Eddy managed to splice the original Chaser ECU into the Celica wiring and got the 1G up and running. Because the stock computer was allowing detonation at high boost, however, he's since made the switch to a programmable MicroTech system. This works with a set 7M-GTE coils with Magnecore leads, while fuelling is provided by a set of Skyline GT-R injectors (450 - 460cc according to Eddy) with a Bosch 044 pump. A vane pressure regulator, ½-inch fuel lines and Speedflow fittings complete the fuel delivery set-up.
The standard 1G twin-turbo system - in addition to frequently having just one turbo shaft seize - are particularly small. Eddy has since moved up to the twin-turbos off a 1JZ 2.5-litre twin-turbo; the standard 1G turbine housings are retained, allowing the larger capacity huffers to be mounted on the stock exhaust manifold.
The 1G-GTE was one of the relatively few production turbo engines released with water-to-air intercooling. Eddy still uses the OE twin-entry heat exchanger and electric pump, but relies on a big Subaru radiator to shed heat that is conducted into the water. No blow-off valve is fitted.
Of course, there wasn't much point bolting up an OE peashooter type exhaust, so a full 3-inch mandrel pipe was called into play. Ditto for the air intake - there's nothing factory about the Sakimoto air filter.
Incredibly, Eddy's 1G Celica has endured a massive 130
power runs! Having been tested in various mechanical configurations and tunes, the car is presently making 166.8kW at the wheels (measured on a Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno) on 17 psi boost and with the tank filled with pump 98RON. With 10 percent methylbenzene added to the fuel mix, however, the car pushes 181kW at the wheels on just 15 psi boost.
One interesting point - the 1G engine incorporates secondary set of butterflies prior to each inlet port and it's essential that these are opened at high rpm if you want maximum power. Eddy says - while they were working the system out - the engine made only 114kW ATW running just 11 psi and with the valves shut. An extra 16kW was snagged with them opened.
The driveline comprises Toyota's highly regarded Supra 5-speed box (the strong 1G version according to Eddy), a heavy-duty brass button clutch, upgrade pressure plate and, now, a Hilux type 4.3:1 locker diff. You can really hear those tyres skipping whenever Eddy executes a tight manoeuvre.
In order to prevent those straightened, rust-free and beautifully painted panels being bent Eddy has improved the car's stopping abilities tremendously. At the front you'll find XT130 Corolla discs, while the rear employs the Hilux discs that came with the Japanese-import 27-spline axle assembly.
Corners no longer pose a problem for this classic era Celica - the front now rides taught on Pedders 1-inch lowered springs and Sports Ryder shocks, while the rear uses 1-inch lower heavy duty springs and Pedders Comfort shocks - the slightly softer rear-end aiding traction. A Whiteline adjustable panhard rod was fitted in unison with the lowered suspension, and the suspension rubbers have been swapped for new Nolathane items.
Grip is provided by 205/50 and 225/50 Simex tyres mounted on Millennium 16 x 7-inch alloys.
The cabin arrived in Eddy's hands in pretty sorry condition. While there is still some work to be done on the inside, it's been improved markedly with the addition of GReddy water temp, oil pressure, EGT and boost gauges. The steering wheel is a relatively small diameter Boss job and pews are grippy AutoTecnicas. New black and grey fabric has been applied throughout the interior. Eddy has also installed a '86 Toyota Cressida centre console - the gear level had to be relocated about 4 inches and somewhere was needed to mount those aforementioned gauges.
Gone is the standard AM radio and in its place is a Kenwood ADC-5020 6-stack CD head unit with remote. A 100W amp boosts the signal to a pair of 7 x 10 Kenwoods in the rear shelf.
Aside from further getting stuck into the interior, Eddy still has a few big ideas in store for his already slick Celica. Plans are to crack a 12-second ET with the current set-up; the car has already run a 13.4 on just 13 psi boost and with no preparation. Once that goal has been kicked, Eddy will be slotting in a run-riot 1G engine that SSS Automotive tracked down during their last trip to Japan. The engine in question has around $20,000 of go-fast accessories thrown at it - cams, big turbo, you name it! Eddy is pretty excited at the thought of maybe running in the 10s (with traction permitting) and, given the car weighs only around 1000 kilograms, it seems like a definite possibility.
VTi-L what? GT4 who?
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