After four years, several police stops and 25,000 miles, the Celica GT-S long-term project vehicle Turbo acquired from Toyota has held up much better than we imagined. This arrest-me-red cruiser has put up with the dredge of daily driving and soaked up the burning sun from being parked outdoors, and yet the Celica is not worse for the wear.
The Blitz supercharger has worked wonderfully and we haven't had any mechanical mishaps. We did have an unfortunate snafu, however, after hitting a tire on the freeway that tore up the front bumper and bent the intercooler. The Starshield protective wrap was no match for a loose tire and couldn't save the paint, although luckily the bumper was intact and just needed repainting. We dropped the damaged Kaminari bumper off to strip the original paint and have it repainted and replaced in no time. And even though the Blitz intercooler now sports some battle scars, it's still working fine.
Over the years of taking the GT-S out to events it still breaks necks with its rugged looks, and menacingly harmonic sound of the Blitz supercharger. However, the Sparco sports seats and matching red cloth interior have taken a beating from the sun, and certain parts are starting to fade from red to orange. This is definitely something to consider when deciding which material to upholster your interior with. If we were actually showing the car, we would have to replace it; but for our purposes of racing it around town we're okay with the fading. (Also preventing a show car career for our GT-S are the mean tire and grease marks on the back of the seats from us hauling around parts in it. Nothing beats a lift-back with fold-down seats. We have hauled more wheels, exhausts and body parts than an F-150.)
Speaking of sun damage, the other interior pieces to feel the heat of the sun are the Blitz DC-II gauges. We've received numerous compliments on the super thin DC-II gauges that are suction mounted to the windshield along the A-pillar. This suction mounting is incredibly advantageous in that you don't have to cut into the A-pillar housing and they are easily removable when you want to ride in stealth mode. The downside, however, is that the suction mounts droop in the heat of our California sun. While easily fixed with a quick push up when you get into the car, it nonetheless could be annoying for some owners.
The one cosmetic piece we did was to replace the Racing Heart wheels. We selected some gold SSR D5R 19-inch beauties since previous wheels were preproduction prototypes and weren't meant for street use. The original Racing Hearts had been bent from too many potholes, which gave the GT-S a mean shake that could be felt on the steering wheel. We encased the SSR D5s in Falken FK-451s. We gave the FK-451 line a try because of its popularity with enthusiasts, and its affordable price. We've been satisfied with the FK-451s - the only notable difference is that they don't have as much grip as the higher-end line. As such, if you're going to the track you probably want to swap out your wheels with something stickier.
We've taken the Celica out to the track on several occasions and the Hotchkis suspension has performed like a champ. With no additional adjustments needed, this vehicle hangs corners surprisingly steady. The GT-S performs better in corners with more power and begs for high exit speed. The big wheels and body kit does get in the way of true track racing, but we all face the quandary of whether to build our car just for performance or for looks too. It's hard to have the best of both worlds.
Up next for the Celica is a sound system upgrade from Car Audio and Electronics. Since we always wanted this car to be a daily driver and not a racecar we aren't too worried about a little extra weight from the in-car entertainment. Other than a bit of ICE we're quite satisfied with our Project Toyota, and plan on leaving it as is to drive into the ground. We just hope we don't have to go to traffic school again for driving our can't-miss-red road warrior.