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Bridging Worlds

The way I see the tuning scene, there are two main camps. One camp prioritizes function over form. This is the camp which believes in simple, tasteful exterior mods with more attention paid to good suspension kits, sticky tyres, lightweight wheels and power. Audio systems are kept as minimal as possible, so as to not add weight and destroy a car’s performance. Basically, this camp believes that ultimate performance comes first and looks a close second.

The other camp believes that a car should look as loud and garish as it can. This camp likes flashy paintjobs with custom decals, huge wings and chin spoilers, extreme bodykits with impossibly wide arches and big, heavy and flashy chrome wheels. Also on the top of their mod list is a loud and powerful sound system which would threaten to break windows. The people in this camp take things slow and cruise the streets while showing off their loud and eye-catching rides.

While these two camps don’t have an all-out war between them, you just know that they can’t really get along with each other. There’s no way someone with a performance mindset could appreciate a loud and flashy car and vice versa. But this Celica right here, this could very well be the bastard child of the two camps if they ever had a kid. This could be the car to unite the two camps; this would’ve been the child to unite the Montagues and the Capulets if Romeo and Juliet didn’t kill themselves in that dank little crypt.

I do not like flashy paint, chrome wheels, over-the-top bodykits and excessive sound systems. But somehow, I do find this Celica quite appealing, even though it has elements from the opposing camp. I’d imagine too, that someone from the opposing camp would find this car quite attractive as well. What we have here in this Celica, is a seamless integration of two different ideals, culminating in a gorgeous 2-door sports coupe.

This Toyota Celica was put together by Kegani Autotech, a small tuning outfit, headed by Kenny Lee, who is also founder and president of the Toyota 4AG Club. Kenny has also participated in local motorsport events with his trusty Corolla, such as the 2007 MME. Although this Celica doesn’t pack a lot of parts, it’s obvious that this isn’t some half-baked project, one can tell that each modification and part on this car is there to enhance the car’s performance and driving experience.

Under the hood is the 2ZZ-GE 1.8 litre engine with variable valve timing and lift, Toyota’s answer to Honda’s B18C. From the factory, this engine pushes out 190bhp, which is quite enough power for a car like this. For some noise a bit of power, an A’PEXi Power Intake air filter and an HKS exhaust system replace the restrictive factory items. By our guesstimations, this car should now be pushing out an extra 10bhp.

Any true performance car and driving enthusiast will tell you nothing delivers more driving thrills than a proper manual gearbox with three pedals. Nothing compares to the satisfaction that one derives from a perfectly executed heel and toe downshift or a launch of the starting line. This Celica used to be an automatic, but the owner saw fit to replace the sloth-like automatic gearbox with a close ratio 6-speed gearbox taken from the same model Celica. For better traction out of the corners, this gearbox also comes equipped with a LSD.

For pure driving thrills and perfect handling balance, only a fully adjustable coilover kit will do. By being provided with the option of adjusting damper settings and ride height, the tuning possibilities are nearly limitless. So instead of just lowering springs, this car has been fitted with TEIN’s Super Street adjustable coilovers which feature both damping force and ride height adjustment.

Replacing the puny stock wheels is a much more aesthetically pleasing set of Weds Sport SA-67R replica wheels. These wheels strike the perfect balance between flash and performance. Although measuring 18 inches in size, these wheels are quite light.

An alarming number of people out there spend thousands sometimes tens of thousands of ringgit on a nice set of wheels, but are reluctant to spend money on good quality rubber. Thankfully, the owner of this Celica isn’t one of them and has outfitted his baby’s feet with top notch Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres which measure 245/40R18 in size. These wheels may seem a touch too wide for the car but those big, fat arches do need to be filled up.

Inside, the interior remains largely untouched save for the Momo Race steering wheel, TRD gearknob and GReddy turbo timer.

The eye catching exterior is largely thanks to the flashy paintjob which flows seamlessly with the aggressive bodykit with its flared arches and numerous vents. This is one of the best bodykits I’ve seen available for the Celica and the Celica really needs this bodykit, as the stock Celica does look a little limp. This kit truly transforms the Celica’s restrained and boring demeanour. With that being said, I do think that the huge wing on the back – as nice as it looks – needs to be trimmed by a couple of inches!

Car: ZZT231 Toyota Celica
Engine: 2ZZ-GE, 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder, DOHC, VVTi-L
Engine modifications: A’PEXi Power Intake air filter, HKS exhaust system, TRD oil filler cap
Transmission: 6-speed manual with LSD
Suspension/Chassis: TEIN Super Street adjustable coilovers
Brakes: Stock
Wheels & Tyres: 18 inch Weds Sport SA-67R wheels, 245/40R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres
Electronics: GReddy turbo timer
Interior: Momo Race steering wheel, TRD gearknob
Exterior: Custom bodykit
Tuner: Kegani Autotech

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