You’ve likely heard it before; your dad or uncle or grandfather reminiscing the good old days of motoring. The days when cars ran on carbs and they used to race around Greenhills like it was their own racetrack. They would say that no modern car can replicate the character of a Mk. I Escort, a Bar-type Lancer, or a TA22 Celica like the one you’re ogling at right now. While it holds true that cars of yesteryear hold much character in their shapes and quirks, this Celica won’t be telling the same stories your dad or uncle did.
No, this car will tell a totally different story. A story that begins in its death, it will tell you how much of a rotting shell it was during the first decade of the new millennium. It would appear back then that its glory days were over, much like a good number of its brethren. Nobody cared about a heaping hunk of scrap. One that, should you choose to fix, would cost quite a fortune anyway. So it seems that the Celica has been left to die, to let its body oxidize and let nature take its course. That is, until a man decided to buy it off its previous owner. It was November 2012, and this car had no idea it was on its way to resurrection.
Four painstaking months. It took four months of round-the-clock work to bring the Celica back to life. From removing rust from the body, to sourcing parts, to paint, and finally to putting it all together, much effort and time was given just to get this car back on the road. Oh, but roadworthiness is but the first of many things for the rejuvenated Celica.
You see, the man who bought and built this car is an architect by trade, one of them artsy-fartsy types. He constantly sketched drawings that seemed like more things were in store for the build. Wide custom steel fenders, wider ATS wheels, a custom buck chin spoiler, and a ducktail wing soon made their way from sketch pad to the body. It was starting to look like those factory works cars from the car’s heyday, and surely this was pleasing news for the Celica.
It didn’t stop there though, as the interior needed fixing as well. Much of the interior trim was missing from before, hence most of it has been stripped out altogether. A custom roll cage made its way to stiffen the much aged chassis, as well as some nary a modern seating and safety in the form of a pair of Brides and Takata Harnesses.
Seeing that the Celica’s cabin has been updated, some personal touches went in as well. A Window Net, Jason Mask, and a black Baseball Bat display themselves in the cabin as a nod to the man’s ever-growing affection towards Japanese Kanjozoku styling.
With all the work put into the Celica, it needed a proper debut for all to witness its return to asphalt. The annual Transport Show of 2013 was coming up, and what better way to introduce it to the community than to have it displayed for all to see? True enough, curious guests of the show had double takes on the Celica as nobody has ever seen one done like it. It looked to be a perfect blend of modern style and old school flair, all while staying true to its Japanese persona. This was enough to garner a class-winning award for “Best in 70’s sports” for the show.
Upon returning from the show, it really was time to let the Celica stretch its legs and go out for drives. It eventually made rounds at a few meets and easily received compliments left and right. Many a curious people have asked how the car was done, and the man who built it would humbly explain all his work and all the tiny details put into the car. Such was the fascination of everybody to the Celica, along with his down-to-earth personality, that many friends have been made by the man in such a short span of time.
Now, surely the attention the Celica has been receiving meant that many individuals are still drawn towards Japanese nostalgic cars even to this day. The man discovered that there are plenty of others like him who keep their retro cars in tip-top shape, looking like they just rolled off the showroom floor despite being driven regularly for decades. In order to celebrate this, a regular gathering every first saturday of the month was held: The Sushi Meet and Run
Since June 2013, retro Japanese cars from the 70’s and 80’s became the stars of the late night monthly meet in Makati as more and more people gravitated towards the event every month. The meets always had a laid back atmosphere about them, where like-minded car enthusiasts would enjoy the evening thanks to the man with the nice Celica. Plenty of people would chat about their cars and get treated to coffee by the gracious host. And once the clock strikes twelve, all the carbs breathe life into the motors as everyone makes their way up the skyway for a midnight cruise towards Alabang. The Sushi Meet and Run has become a staple meet to attend monthly, and the Celica has since been the poster car for the occasion.
To this day, the Celica sits in the Sushi Machine workshop as the prized possession of the man. While this car is the object that drew people closer to him, it was the humbling and earnest man behind the car that made them stay and attend the monthly meets regularly. Beyond the gleaming sheet metal and the fancy bits and pieces, this Celica reminds us that cool cars don’t make cool people, cool people make cool cars.
1971 Toyota Celica (TA22)
Engine And Driveline
1.8 Single Cam 13T Engine
Ported and polished head, re-bored block
Oversized dome pistons, big valves
Redline Intake Manifold
Redline Carburetor Linkage
Redline Velocity Stacks
Twin side draft Weber 40 Carburetors
SMT Custom 4-1 Headers with thermal wrap
SMT Custom Exhaust
Mishimoto Aux Fan
NGK High Tension Wires
Project Mu Reservoir Socks
Wheels, Brakes, and Suspension
ATS 13×8 front, 13×9 rear
1″ Aluminum Spacers
Drilled and Slotted Rotors
Cusco Strut Bar
Cusco Camber Plates
Sushi Factory Front Coilovers
Kingspring Rear springs
O-sulee spring cushions
KYB Shock Absorbers
Push Start and battery Kill Switch
Aircraft Toggle Switches
ARC Titanium Shift Knob
Bride Vios Bucket Seat (Driver)
Bride Reclinable passenger seat
Nardi Deep Corn Steering wheel
NRG Quick Release Hub
Takata 4 pt. Harnesses
Sushi Factory Custom Rollcage
Jason Mask, Baseball Bat, Tsurikawa
Sushi Factory Front Lip
Sushi Factory Rear Wing
Sushi Factory Fender Flares
Sushi Factory Front, Side, and Rear Diffusers
Celica GT Front Grill
Kameari fender Mirrors
Works Leather hood belts
Works rubber trunk straps
Benen Front and Rear tow hooks
Splitter Support Rods
photos by Kelvin Christian Go