I'd like to think I'm an eclectic guy with an oddly-wide palate for cars, but Eddie Melkumian of Everett, Washington may just have one upped me. Three years ago when I first saw his 1973 Toyota Mark II wagon I nearly pooped in my pants. I had my '87 Cressida at the time and was daydreaming of a 2JZ swap and being bagged. At the time Eddie had already done a 1JZ swap, bags and to an older, more rare Toyota.
For Eddie this whole automotive obsession started at the early age of 9, when he traded his Yamaha moped for a '76 Chevette. Tinkering and ruining that car sparked his interest in not just cars, but engineering as a whole. By 14-years old he had already picked up and read many engineering books hoping to someday go to engineering school. Working on cars was all he ever did in his childhood. Before leaving his teens, Eddie had already owned over 50 cars, at different times. His first Mark II wagon (not this one) was purchased when he was 16-years old.
"I just love the body lines and the way they look," Eddie says. He took that '73 Mark II and dropped in a turbo 7M-GTE swap from a MA60 Supra.
Now in his early adult life, Eddie has easily owned over a hundred cars. Everything you can think of he's owned. Mainly imports like a few Crowns, Crown pickups, Celicas of every generation, ten AE86s, five S13s, a few S14s and probably 70% of the Mark IIs that are still alive in the country have been owned by this guy at one point. Just about every Toyota model from the '60s to '80s he's owned.
"I just prefer the Toyota engineering to others. The downfall is Toyota owners are more into restoration, whereas the Datsun owners have more of a performance approach to their cars."
Now having just turned 23-years old, with a degree in engineering, Eddie works as an aerospace mechanic and has also started his own fabrication shop, Old Series Garage, where he does engine swaps, welding and restoration. He's done 7M swaps, JZ swaps, 4AG swaps, just about everything you can think to a Toyota. Currently he owns an astonishing 24 cars (This must be a Toyota record! -CT). To name a few in his collection - a JDM RHD '71 Celica coupe, an '85 Celica GT-S coupe missle, two other Mark II wagons, a Beams swapped '71 Celica, a track-car project '71 Celica that will be the sickest drift machine stateside when it's done and a bagged '02 Lexus LS430 for daily comfort.
This orange nightmare on roids, comes from his interest in everything from raised trucks, to lowriders, to rat rods, to drift cars, to everything in between that has wheels.
"I wanted to do something the US has never seen. The idea was mix a couple styles together to make a unique car. I wanted something that looked unreal, accelerated like a Supra and looked like it was dragged out of a field."
Originally the Mark II wagon came with a solid rear axle. But wanting some demon negative camber Eddie converted it to independent rear suspension, taken from a MA60 Supra. A jig had to be made to hold the wagon straight while the surgery was done. Afterwards, several precautions were taken to reinforcing the unibody for the conversion. All of this was done with a lot of planning in order to keep the factory floor and all interior panels factory-looking. Eddie is an absolute Toyota nut and likes some things original-looking.
"If you think you can jump into a custom project like this and expect to have it done in a couple of weeks, you're out of your mind. It's important to remember that you cannot buy any aftermarket parts for this car. There is no such thing as 'bolt-on' in the custom world. I ran into a million problems starting with the rewiring the whole car, to reengineering the suspension geometry. But my biggest problem by far is cops. I can't figure out if they love it or hate it but I get pulled over every time I drive it."
After all of that, he decided to install air bags so he can completely lay the car out. He claims, "I can get it so low, that the pinch welds on the rockers are completely ground down from scraping".
Chatting with Eddie, he told me about how the '73 Mark II is not a Corona, how it's Toyota's first X-chassis that led to the Cressida, Chaser, Cresta, and later Mark II cars, and how this particular year is the only year to look like this. In '74 Toyota made a refresh and everything started to change. There was a lot more info in the conversation but my ears, mind and pen were having sensory overload and I just couldn't catch everything. Basically, he put it best with "I know so much about cars and Toyotas that my head hurts".
Three years ago Eddie picked up this Mark II wagon and in 5 months he had it looking like this. Since then Eddie's been planning on restoring the entire car over. I personally love the rusted mutated paint. You just can't truly fake it like that.
1973 Toyota Mark II Wagon
Owner Eddie Melkumian
Hometown Everett, WA
Occupation Boeing Aerospace mechanic and automotive fabricator (Owner of Old series garage)
Power 350hp @ 6500rpm
Engine Twin-turbo 2.5L 1JZ-GTE from '92 JDM Toyota Supra; ARP head studs; HKS 1.5mm head gasket and boost controller; custom Old Series Garage motor mounts, oil pan, intake, piping, downpipe and exhaust; TurboXS blow-off valve; Spearco intercooler; Walbro fuel pump; RX-7 oil cooler; Northern custom radiator; Blackworks electronic fan
Drivetrain Toyota Supra R154 5-speed transmission; Mark II 3.91 gear and LSD; Old Series Garage driveshaft
Engine management HKS F-Con V Pro; custom Old Series Garage harness
Footwork & Chassis '82 MA60 Supra independent rear suspension; Universal 2500 series (front) and 2600 series (rear) air bags; Koni front and rear shocks; Old Series Garage lower control arms, front camber arms and rear camber arms; MA60 Supra rear toe arms; two 5-gallon tanks; 8 solenoids; 6 switches; DC5000 Viair compressor; 3/8" lines
Brakes Stainless steel brake lines; '92 Supra master cylinder; drilled rotors
Wheels & Tires 15" Enkei 92 Mesh rims
Exterior Hella low beam headlights; Mercedes high beam headlights; Lexus HID ballasts and 5000K bulbs; TE27 Corolla turn signals; JDM Toyota fender mirrors; optional dealer and aftermarket roof racks
Interior '73 JDM woodgrain Mark II steering wheel; Supra shift knob; '73 Mark II coupe cluster; '78 Mark II tach; aftermarket boost gauge
Thanks you I would like to thank everyone that participated in this build and Old Series Garage for their hard work and skills. A huge and special thanks to Alex Stefankiv, Josh Thorne and the Thorne family for their uncountable hours of help, skills, talent, patience and dedication.