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So, I'm a girl. I'm blonde and I'm not in my early 20s, so ... I think that makes me the only non 20-something Asian dude who is building a V8 swap fire breathing 2200 pound first gen Toyota Celica. Yeah, I don't really blend when I ask questions on the Celica drifter car forums. But I don't mind. I love this car! I had a 1972 Celica many years ago (a friend still owns it and he won't sell it back to me!) and I vowed to find another one, and squeeze a better more modern engine into it, and put all kinds of good parts on it to make it fun and fast and tough and zip around a corner on two wheels - and not because it is about to tip over. I scared myself enough times when that happened driving my dad's VW camper... Anyway - I'll have to add to my story in stages. I have 1487 other projects going on simultaneously, and a few other cars to keep watered and fed and groomed. I'm trying to document all the Hellica build stages in photos. It's growing up so fast (*sigh* they always do) that a few weeks ago we made the first actual street drive, engine all connected with the mechanical and wirey bits, and suspension working and everything! Borrowed the wheels temporarily off my twin turbo Supra (that's another story) and took a spin up and down the twisty highway by my house. But back to the start: My fabrication genius friend Ken and I looked at a lot of Celica projects on line when we embarked upon this project. What we learned was: 1) Most stock Celicas of this era are in BAD shape. 2) People who start Celica resto-mod projects never seem to finish them. 3) Most first gen Celicas, stock or not, are in bad shape - see point #2. We had no idea if a V8 swap Celica - not modified so much it might has well have been a Catterham underneath - would actually fit together and work. I wanted to keep the little Camaro lines and look, with a motor noise that rivaled the great sounds of my LS7 Corvette. Was it possible? We were stubborn; the gauntlet had been thrown down. When we went out to see the first Craiglist Celica for sale, it hit me that this car is SMALL. Like as in you don't really remember how tiny these things were. I used to drive one every day and I forgot how small these cars are. You almost can't fit one tire for my Corvette inside the passenger compartment of the Celica. It has been the single most challenging aspect of building this car with bigger faster better parts. But my Colombian connection came through (thank you to Jan and cousins from Bogota) and we discovered a car semi locally that might work. The then-current owner had started to swap a four cam Lexus 1UZFE V8 engine into a 1973 Celica, and - well - see point #2. The car was relatively complete, but much of it was in bins. The smiley bumpers were straight (praise to God!) and it had an extra trunk lid and extra hood. He even threw in a spare Corolla GTS rear limited slip rearend. Note: guys, if you want to make points with the girl, a sure fire way is to THROW IN A SPARE COROLLA REAR END. I digress. The engine compartment steering bits had pretty much all been removed to make room for the Lexus motor. (One helpful hint here: if you want to FINISH that Celica swap project, the car will at some point need its under hood steering bits.) So, it was a messy lots of yelling and getting the floor jack team effort to make a left turn up onto the ramps of the enclosed trailer. But with help I got it home, got it into the garage and then concluded I was utterly insane.
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