1971 Toyota Celica GT
|The Fifth Celica|
The stories are as old as Civilization. Which Civilization? Almost every culture has stories of a great treasure accumulated sometime in them past , hidden away from safe keeping and left alone, untouched, for years even centuries . most recently, the culture known as automotive man, the story ranges from “The Widow’s Cadillac” to the champion-winning Ferrari that is the only remaining one of the three of its kind that were built, and is rumored to be in a hole underground n Northern California or in a self storage unit somewhere in Florida. However, one never hears these stories about Japanese cars. There are lots of reasons: Japanese cars are too new, they just weren’t that valuable when new and still aren’t , there were lots of them made so they aren’t rare, and one of my personal favorites, ”Japanese cars have no history”, which could only be uttered by someone with a short and selective memory.
It is unfortunate that the Celica on these pages has no public history, because to those who care, it is a historic vehicle. Thought it certainly had great commercial success, the Toyota Celica is not remembered for racing success, as are the 510 and Z-car. This is the car that was supposed to change that. Its serial number shows that it is the fifth Celica off the line, and it clearly was meant to be a factory effort at racing in the United States. It is left hand drive, and was prepared for racing by Toyota Racing Development in Yokohama, Japan before being shipped to the States. Unfortunately there was no class for the car to race in when it got here, so it was stored in a Toyota warehouse for more than a decade. It was taken out and refurbished to go vintage racing, but once again was ineligible for competition, this time because it was one year too new. At this point the owner, called Joji Luz of Toysport, a gentle man who eats , sleeps and breathes Toyotas, and offered to sell him the car. Mr. Luz could not say yes fast enough.
This Celica is basically a full-on race car, built with Toyota factory parts by TRD. What was then known as Toyota Sports Corner, or TOSCO. Joji Luz tells us the change came in the early or mid 70s, apparently just for marketing reasons. Chassis preparation began by stripping the car and re-welding all the uni-body seams to ensure structural integrity. The suspension was reassembled with TRD springs, shocks and anti8-roll bars. Most brake hardware was left stock. However, the master cylinder was modified, braided stainless steel lines were added, and TRD pads and shoes were installed. The car currently has 13 x 7-inch Minilite Magnesium wheels, the classic late 60s racing wheels, with Yokohama AVS-I tires.
The engine is where this Celica’s setup gets really interesting, and to those of us in the US, exotic. Throughout the 70’s , Toyota’s standard small-displacement engines were the 2T and 3T, different models of the same basic pushrod four-cylinder design, the T-series. In Japan however, there was a racing version of the 2T called 2TG. Those familiar with the alphabet soup that Toyota uses as an engine designation system will recognize the G as indicating a wide angle DOHC cylinder head configuration. That is the engine installed in this Celica. But it’s even more special than that- the engine is a pre-production unit with no serial number. Toyota had to be in a hurry to get this car on track to beat those pesky Datsuns. The eight valve engine is built to rev, with the oversquare dimensions of 85mm bore and 70mm stroke, for a displacement of 1589cc. The block was modified with the installation of oil squirters to cool the pistons. The bottom end is built on a TRD forged steel rods that were balanced, polished and lightened. TRD forged pistons with moly rings give 10.5:1 compression. TRD remachined the head for big valves, 45mm intake and 38.5mm exhaust. The head was ported and polished, and a full TRD drivetrain was installed-double valve springs, keepers and lifters. The intake camshaft has 11mm of lift and 288-degress duration, the exhaust 10.7mm and 304 degrees. Because this engine was intended for high rpm competition use, a TRD dry sump oil system was installed, which minimizes power loss due to windage and ensures that there is always oil supply, even in long hard sweepers. Induction is by dual Solex sidedraft carburetors, one large diameter venturi for each cylinder. They are the ancestors of today’s Mikuni carbs. Ignition is provided by a TRD capacitive-discharge system , and the exhaust is simple: a TRD header and a straight pipe. A TRD clutch sends the power to a TRD built five speed with 2.701, 1.734, 1.286, 1.0 and .86:1 gearing. The rear end features a TRD limited slip differential with 4.8:1 ring and pinion, and has an oil cooler to ensure long life at high speeds and loads.
When the Celica was taken out of storage, it was repainted at Kent Racing in Gardena California. It was soon passed on to Joji Luz who too it to Toysport, where new safety equipment was installed. TRD racing bucket seats were mounted, and Simpson harnesses were installed properly. There are some TRD gauges as well.
Toysport is known for having some pretty wild and fast project vehicles, but Joji plans to leave this one alone. As he says, “It’s a keeper.” The fifth Celica ever made, the odometer shows only 38,000 miles, and many of the later miles are known to have been accumulated in on-track testing. The car is nearly new condition. Many older cars show wiper marks on the windshield. This has none. The TRD parts still have the gold-colored tags that originally came on them. The car is perfect, and we can only support Joji in his plans to preserve it. Many of the “neat old car in barn” stories involve the car being passed through a variety of owners who neither know nor much care about the significance of the car, and each one damages or neglects it a little more.
Fortunately, this Celica was kept properly by the right people, and we can’t think of a better place for it to end up than with Joji Luz.
|Other Articles: Tiny Panganiban||by Dan Barnes. photography: Les Bidrawn , Sport Compact Car Sept. 1998|