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 |   |  Honda F22C-Powered 1977 Toyota Celica
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Honda F22C-Powered 1977 Toyota Celica

A couple continues their journey through life together in a highly unique classic.

Joey Lee
Mar 28, 2016
Photographer: Robin Trajano

The Vongs are no strangers to Super Street. Peter and Theresa have been on this crazy ride before. We encountered them in '11 when the now-married couple was flaunting a LS1-powered Nissan 240SX in our mag. Since then, they've been busy focusing their time on building a family along with Peter's successful online business. Though their attention was directed towards other areas in their lives, cars have always been an important part of it. They tinkered with smaller projects here and there to stay busy but this '77 Toyota Celica has been an ongoing build since their S14 flew the coop.

1977 toyota celica smiley front bumper Photo 2/22   |   1977 Toyota Celica Smiley Front Bumper

"After we sold the 240, I promised my wife that I would be done with the car scene for a while." Peter says. "We were trying to save up for a house and had plans to have a second child but we ended up adding another member to our growing family. I was perusing a local car forum online one day and came across this Celica—I guess you can say it was love at first sight. I'd always wanted to build one of these and this seemed like the perfect opportunity."

1977 toyota celica honda f22c engine Photo 3/22   |   Majestic engine bay with a 2.2L heart out of the Honda S2000.

The Celica Peter discovered seemed like an ideal base; besides the dated bright green tone, the car had already been swapped with a Honda S2000 engine. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with it mechanically, and the photos of it looked decent for the price. Peter made plans to drive it around for a couple years, build the Vong family empire, and then tear it down—so he thought anyway. Appearances can be deceiving. The Celica "looked" like everything was fine and dandy but it turned-out to be anything but that.

"I bought the car off of the Internet, so it was completely sight unseen. I had photos and videos that the owner sent me, but it was in far worse condition than I thought. It originally came from Oklahoma City so the car had a ton of rust. When I received the car, I noticed that the bright green was just a single layer. You can still see the original red paint revealing itself along with the exposed rust. The floor board on the driver's side had two holes from rust that were large enough for me to put my foot through it while driving." Vong explains.

1977 toyota celica trd rear spoiler Photo 7/22   |   1977 Toyota Celica Trd Rear Spoiler

Attention had to be focused towards the cancer that was eating-up the near 40 year-old coupe. The car ran great with an updated heart but the rest was in dire need of attention. The Vongs looked at the uniqueness and redeeming qualities of the Honda F22C swap as a worthwhile investment so the couple decided to strip the chassis bare and start from scratch.

1977 toyota celica bride straddia venus ii maziora edition seats Photo 8/22   |   1977 Toyota Celica Bride Straddia Venus Ii Maziora Edition Seats
1977 toyota celica bride stradia venus ii maziora edition seats Photo 9/22   |   Rare Maziora Edition Bride seats—the finish on the shells match the Neo Chrome perfectly!

The Celica was walnut-blasted so the raw shell could have all of its rust repaired. Once the body was refreshed, the Toyota saw life anew wearing a fresh coat of a rare "Midnight Purple" hue originally intended for a Nissan Skyline. The richness of the iridescent paint might normally be the most extravagant part of most people's builds but not for the Vongs—they had something much more colorful in mind. Before that, however, the exterior needed some aesthetic enhancements. The original metal bumpers have been updated with fiberglass "Smiley" pieces. Giving the face a much edgier look is a TRD chin spoiler. The rear spoiler is likewise a classic TRD piece. Molded over-fenders offer the Celica a wider track, and help to provide the sleek body with some girth.

1977 toyota celica neo chrome shift knob e brake Photo 10/22   |   Neo Chrome erthang, including the shift knob and E-brake handle.

Never the family to do things the conventional way, the two elected to utilize modern air suspension technology. Many would scoff at the idea of using bags on a Japanese classic but more are starting to come around to the concept. It is a show car/cruiser after all so comfort takes precedence over performance, especially when it comes to dated suspension design. Each corner features an electronically managed air bag over a Bilstein gas shock. An Accuair VU4 4-corner valve unit keeps the plumbing simple, while Addco sway bars and new polyurethane bushings keep the body rigid.

1977 toyota celica bbs rs wheel Photo 11/22   |   Three-piece BBS RS wheels have been rebuilt by 5One to 16x10/12".

Since the system is electronic, the Celica can air-up and pancake on top of the tires at the touch of a button via an Accuair E-Level Touch Pad. Once it is aired-down, you can get a better grasp of just how beefy, and incredibly lavish, the custom-built BBS RS wheels are. The staggered 16-inch classic mesh wheels are a product of popular wheel customizer, 5One. Each of the faces was carefully stripped before coated in a custom "Black Solar Rain" finish. The barrels and lips are brand new, bumping up the wheels to 10- and 12-inches wide, respectively. Burnt titanium bolts are used to keep the three-piece wheels together and valve stems in Neo Chrome were used just to say they have "Neo Chrome valve stems". It would seem a little audacious to have something as simple as valve stems in that color-shifting finish, that is, until you look at the rest of the build and realize that it is heavily-applied throughout.

1977 toyota celica s2000 gauge cluster Photo 12/22   |   S2000 cluster modified to fit to match the motor. Nice touch!

Under the hood is where the iridescent chrome is most prevalent. Everything that isn't essential to basic engine operations has been removed to direct all attention to the Neo Chromed F22C valve cover. Sitting adjacent to it are a set of 48mm Jenvey ITBs, which horns have also been done in the same finish. The engine mounts, oil cap, coil pack cover, and even the radiator cap have been matched in Neo Chrome. If there were a way to Neo Chrome the J's Racing header and have it be able to sustain the unique coating under high heat, it's safe to say the Vongs would have done it as well. Mated to the 2.2-liter is a matching six-speed manual transmission from Honda that connects to a TRD limited-slip differential from a Zenki AE86.

Inside the cockpit you will find everything that you'd ever want from a resto-modded Japanese classic. It still retains its nostalgic sensibilities while offering modern creature comforts. A factory digital instrument display from an S2000 has been transplanted into the RA-chassis to complement the engine. Surrounding it is a restored dashboard, which is wrapped in a black suede. The door panels, headliner, center console, and other factory interior pieces have also been cloaked in matching suede. Incredibly rare "Maziora Edition" Bride Stradia Venus II seats were sourced by Peter specifically because its chameleon-like tinge matches the Neo Chrome-theme. As you'd expect, there are also a number of accessories within the interior that have also gone through the Neo Chroming process such as the steering wheels, adjoining bolts, pedals, and shift knob. Contemporary tunes encompass the cockpit area thanks to a custom audio system from Newport Auto Sound that features components from both JL Audio and Kenwood. The final detail which pairs the classic Toyota with modern-day Honda is the seamlessly integrated S2000 Push Start button in the dash.

1977 toyota celica neo chrome steering wheel Photo 16/22   |   1977 Toyota Celica Neo Chrome Steering Wheel

Even with the enormity of this entire build, Peter and Theresa Vong have never taken their eyes off of the prize. Their growing family is still their number one priority. Perhaps that is why this resto-mod creation has spanned the course of four years. Many would have completed this in half the time with the proper resources but the couple chose to take their time. During that period, Peter has grown his own business beyond expectations and the duo also introduced their second daughter to the family. Oh, we should also mention that they also picked up an R35 Nissan GT-R as a daily driver. Things are good for the Vongs. They are a shining example of how car enthusiasts can stay in touch with their hobby while progressing with a positive trajectory in life. If you have the vision, passion, and courage to challenge yourself, life gets better with age.

1977 toyota celica jenvey individual throttle bodies Photo 20/22   |   Even the horns of the Jenvey throttle bodies have been Neo Chromed.

Return of the Power Couple

Peter and Theresa Vong created this '95 Nissan 240SX, which we featured in the August '11 issue. Under the hood was a 5.7L LS1 V-8 that made 398 hp with ease. Other highlights included air suspension, SSR Vienna Kreis wheels, C-West aero, Zenki front, and Recaro seats. Now they have this ridiculous Celica to add to their resume. What'll be next, power couple?!

1995 nissan 240sx cwest aero Photo 21/22   |   1995 Nissan 240Sx Cwest Aero
1995 nissan 240sx ls1 v8 swap Photo 22/22   |   1995 Nissan 240Sx Ls1 V8 Swap
By Joey Lee
243 Articles
Honda F22C-Powered 1977 Toyota Celica
Tuning Menu
Owner: Peter & Theresa Vong
Hometown: Westminster, CA
Occupation: Online Entrepreneur
Engine: '05 2.2L Honda F22C swap; Jenvey 48mm individual throttle bodies; Aspec exhaust with titanium tip and 2.5" piping; J's Racing 4-2-1 exhaust manifold; AEM fuel rail; RC 650cc fuel injectors; TF Aluminum pulley kit; Koyo radiator; Nuke Performance fuel filter, fuel pressure regulator, vacuum station; Neo-Chrome throttle body horns, engine mounts, engine cover, oil cap, coil pack cover, radiator cap
Drivetrain: Honda F22C six-speed manual transmission; 4.3 final drive ring and pinion; TRD AE86 Zenki limited-slip differential with TRD solid spacer (overhauled and shimmed to 11kg by Technosquare)
Engine Management: AEM EMS
Footwork & Chassis: custom air suspension system with two struts and two coils; Accuair VU4 4-corner valve unit, E-Level management system with TouchPad; Bilstein gas shocks; GSP front pillow tension rods, rear lateral link, trailing control arm, lower link; Addco sway bars; polyurethane bushing set; OEM Toyota AE86 strut casings, Zenki rear axle bearings
Brakes: custom Wilwood front brakes; OEM Toyota AE86 rear brakes, front brake caliper brackets, wheel hubs; StopTech rotors
Wheels & Tires: 16x10" front, 16x12" rear BBS RS three-piece wheels by 5One with carbon fiber BBS caps, burnt titanium bolts, Neo-Chrome valve stems; 215/45R16 front, 225/50R16 rear Falken Azenis RT615K tires; Gorilla lug nuts
Exterior: SMILEY fiberglass front and bumpers; TRD front lip, rear spoiler; custom front center mesh, molded over-fenders, rear valance, inner headlight covers; smoked corner and tail lights; Hella H4 headlights; AeroTech hood latch; APR carbon fiber side mirrors; Nissan Midnight Purple 3-stage paint
Interior: Bride Stradia Venus II Maziora Edition seats, seat rails; Wedge Engineering brackets; Takata harnesses; black suede interior (dashboard, door panels, headliner, center console, rear seats, kick panels); black carpet, floor mats; Neo Chrome steering wheel, steering wheel bolts, E-brake handle, gas pedal, clutch pedal, brake pedal, shift knob; custom steering short hub with Works Bell quick release; OEM Honda S2000 cluster; Auto Meter gauges; JL Audio MBT-RX Bluetooth module, 8W1V3 subwoofers (x2); Cache Clok-D line driver; Audison Bit Ten; Kenwood XR-900/5; Hertz ESK130.5, ECX130; Odyssey PC925 battery
Thanks You: my wife Theresa; my daughters Emalynn and Mikaela; Linh and Tam at Jer Development/Auto Magic; Steve Pan at 5One Wheels; Lance at Newport Auto Sound; Steve Wong and Ian Pak at Falken Tire; Miguel Jara; the 1UP crew; R-Rydes; Juan's Auto Upholstery; Dom at Nuke Performance



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