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 |   |  1991 Toyota Celica All-Trac - Build, Race, Break, Repeat
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1991 Toyota Celica All-Trac - Build, Race, Break, Repeat

Honoring Toyota's roots, one track day and one blown engine at a time

Aaron Bonk
Mar 13, 2019

Photos by Right Over Crest, and photomotiononline.com

The Toyota Celica All-Trac is represented by fewer than 1,750 examples in the U.S. They were developed with the same manufacturer impulses that created performance greats like the Evo and STI. With its already turbocharged 3S-GTE four-cylinder and its very un-Toyota-like and rally-capable all-wheel-drive architecture, it's the Celica your early-'90s inner fanboy always wanted. "Celicas of all generations were appealing to me, especially since 99 percent of them had their own moment to shine in the rally world," explains 34-year-old John Clayton, owner of this '91 beauty.

1991 toyota celica all trac GT four RC carlos sainz edition front end conversion Photo 2/23   |   1991 Toyota Celica All Trac GT Four RC Carlos Sainz Edition Front End Conversion

It's that turbocharged 3S-GTE of Toyota's that was, in large part, responsible for all the praise those All-Tracs were known for. Toyota produced five generations of the engine, the last of which yielded roughly 260 hp, but it's the second-gen version that North America's most familiar with. The 2.0L four-cylinder used in the Celica and MR2 Turbo features the sort of high-end engineering you wouldn't come to appreciate for another decade, like piston-cooling oil squirters, an air-to-air intercooler, and a twin-entry turbine housing you still don't know why you'd need. "Even to this day, the 3S-GTE engines and their close relatives are highly appealing," John says. "Toyota used the powerplant or a version of it in so many iconic race cars of the early '90s and '00s."

After searching far and wide for his ideal All-Trac (many of them tended to be in rough shape or corroded), the Austin, Texas, native was able to locate one in California without a spec of rust. He knew retaining the All-Trac's 3S-GTE wasn't negotiable, just not this particular 3S-GTE... "Hands-on experience started the second I purchased the Celica, since it needed a rebuild right out of the gate," John says about his and the car's honeymoon period some 13 years back. According to John, this All-Trac's gone through multiple engine builds, some replaced with identical and original second-gen motors, and some by means of overseas transplants. He's been grateful to have done the work with his grandfather, the man he credits for teaching him most of what he's learned.

1991 toyota celica all trac RC carlos sainz edition front end conversion Photo 6/23   |   The exterior looks completely OEM, which is half true. The front end is actually a conversion sourced overseas that only came on the Celica GT-Four Carlos Sainz Edition. The hood and front bumper feature improved aerodynamics.

"I finally swapped in a fourth-generation 3S-GTE—the current setup—which brought the car into the modern day, [as far as] engines go with its coil-on-plug ignition," he continues. Also, bringing the engine up to speed and making it reliable enough for repeated track use is a Treadstone Performance front-mount intercooler that's plumbed thanks to Dedicated Motorsports. Allowing the 3S-GTE to breathe freely are a 3-inch downpipe from TCS Motosports that connects to a custom mid-pipe and an HKS exhaust. John's dyno'd the car at Boost Logic to make 230 whp and 240 lb-ft of torque—not monster power but more than enough to have fun.

Paint and bodywork were also projects tackled by John and his grandfather. You ought to take notice of the Celica's more aggressive front end. It's not your typical All-Trac armor, but a conversion that was made available outside the U.S. that pays homage to Toyota's two-time rally champion Carlos Sainz.

1991 toyota celica all trac 3sgte swap Photo 10/23   |   The fourth-gen 3S-GTE motor in all its glory! Also check out the cleanliness of the bay, which John reveals has had the holes filled, factory bracketry and battery tray eliminated, and wiring harness extended to hide other components out of sight.

John also spent a good amount of time fine-tuning the chassis and suspension. He installed K-Sport coilovers, poly bushings from Super Pro, and some heavy-duty bracing and a sway bar in the rear. He tells us the only thing left to do is upgrade the weak factory wheel bearings, and he's in the process of retrofitting beefier spindles from the new Toyota Prius (who would've thought?).

Many challenges and headaches have come and gone and John admits he's even drafted "for sale" ads when emotions ran high, then later deleted them when cooler heads prevailed. All along, though, John knew his Celica All-Trac wasn't the sort of car you own for more than a decade then unload in a hissy fit. It's more than that and something he can't imagine ever parting ways with.

1991 toyota celica all trac OMP corsica superleggera steering wheel Photo 14/23   |   1991 Toyota Celica All Trac OMP Corsica Superleggera Steering Wheel
1991 toyota celica all trac honda s2000 gauge cluster Photo 15/23   |   Inside, you'll notice an OMP steering wheel, Bride driver seat, and a Honda S2000 cluster that's been cleverly retrofitted. The cluster uses a standalone speed sensor that's dialed in to show John his mph at 100 percent accuracy.

"The end goal is to create my own personal version of a rally ST185 setup but for [the] tarmac," John—whose backyard practically belongs to America's own Formula One track, Circuit of the Americas (COTA)—says. He instructs at track days there eight times a year and puts his own car through its paces when possible. "I'm always searching for the elusive best lap time. Or mechanical failure. Whichever comes first," he says. "Build it, race it, break it, and repeat."

1991 toyota celica all trac john clayton Photo 19/23   |   Custom magnets can peel off or stick on when John's on the track. The 185 stands for ST185, the rally Celica that's won 16 WRC series.
1991 toyota celica all trac RC carlos sainz edition front end conversion Photo 23/23   |   Paying homage to the Celica rally cars that he fell in love with as a kid, John doesn't just park his car in the garage—he takes it out on Formula One's Circuit of the Americas whenever he can. His personal best time is a 2:38.86.
By Aaron Bonk
415 Articles
1991 Toyota Celica All-Trac - Build, Race, Break, Repeat
Tuning Menu
Owner: John Clayton
Hometown: Austin, TX
Occupation: Service writer
Instagram: @csalltrac
Power: 230 whp, 240 lb-ft of torque
Engine: Fourth-generation 3S-GTE engine swap; Treadstone Performance front-mount intercooler; Dedicated Motorsports intercooler piping; TCS Motorsports 3-inch downpipe; custom mid-pipe; HKS exhaust; powdercoated valve cover, intake manifold, turbo compressor; Turbosmart E-Boost2 boost controller; semi-shaved/tucked engine bay
Drivetrain: RC five-speed manual transmission; Centerforce DFX clutch; solid rear subframe and differential mounts
Footwork & Chassis: K-Sport Pro coilovers; Whiteline rear sway bar, sway bar bushings; Super Pro polyurethane front and rear control arm bushings; custom rear chassis bracing
Wheels & Tires: 17x8 +35 Compomotive TH1782 wheels; 235/40R17 Toyo Proxes RR tires; ARP extended studs; titanium lug nuts
Exterior: GT-Four RC Carlos Sainz Edition front-end conversion; JDM rear corner lights; 3E5 Super Red paint; Spinnywoosh door magnets; '93-spec taillights; Rally Armor Motorsport-spec mudflaps
Interior: Bride Maxis3 Low Max driver seat; OMP Corsica Superleggera steering wheel; Honda S2000 instrument cluster; TWM shifter assembly; Cobb Tuning shift knob; custom rear bulkhead
Thanks: My lovely wife—without her the car would not exist; my grandfather for being the best role model a guy could want; my Arizona family and friends, including Beals Autobody and Tony and Dale at UMS Tuning; my Austin family and friends, including Joe Lamping for taking me under his wing, Karen and Trevor at EdgeAddicts, Dedicated Motorsports, Biddle Motorsports, Roman and Zahair at Boost Logic

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