If you’ve been to any of our trackdays, chances are you’ve seen Martin Tierney’s Celica 190 vvtli. This thing has done nearly as many track days as we have! Now on his 19th day, you certainly can’t argue that Martin has got value out of the car!
With close to 200bhp, a close ratio box and a diff, the Celica’s make a great base for a track car with very few mods. However, they have a bad reputation for blowing engines due to oil starvation and as such can be picked up cheaply (for about a grand or thereabouts) and are a great alternative to a B Series Civic. With a few precautionary upgrades including a baffle for the sump, possibly an oil cooler and a way of keeping coolant temps down (more on this later) you can more or less forget engine issues. And when the motor hits ‘lift’ it’s more than a match for it’s Honda counterpart.
They came in a couple of variants and the 190bhp Tsport version with the 6 speed close ratio box is the one to go for, the ratio’s are ideal for Mondello Park’s tight twisty track. Some versions came with a limited slip diff and although this particular car didn’t, Martin has fitted one, out of a corolla. With 190bhp on tap you really do benefit when it comes to getting the power to the ground, especially round long sweeping turns such as Parabolica and Honda where the tendency would be to light up the inside tyre on cars with an open diff.
Martin’s car is one of those long term projects that I love to see. It’s been developed steadily over the last 3 years with small modifications after each and every track day and more substantial mods over the Winter periods. Although it doesn’t necessarily look like it from the outside, the car is now developed to the point where he’s struggling to get any more lap time out of it without spending more serious money. Now down to 2.03’s on the full international, that’s not hanging around by measure. At the last track day Martin walked me round the car and explained everything that has been done to date.
ENGINE & GEARBOX:
Standard 190 bhp engine with custom baffled sump, design copied from an online forum and manufactured by a local fabricator. Cone air filter (replacing the wife’s tights the were previously used here!) Evan’s waterless coolant which has effectively reduced the coolant temps enough so that an aftermarket/uprated alloy rad is not needed. Previously the car was getting hot after 4-5 laps. Additional front mounted oil cooler.
Synthetic Dot 5.1 fluid, EBC drilled & grooved discs (standard size), Carbotec pads, braided brake lines.
Tein adjustable coilovers, front strut brace, fully polybushed all round. Whiteline anti-rollbars.
Sparco bucket seats, Sparco harnesses, fully stripped interior, dash trimmed, heating removed
WHEELS & TYRES:
The 15″ Wheels are an unknown make but are pretty light and are fitted with 2nd hand Hankook slicks on the from from ebay and rally remoulds on the back
Half wrap in the TRD colours by Darran O’Hara from 99 Red Balloons, drilled front bumper for extra cooling, home made splitter – otherwise, standard
So what’s next for the Celica? To be honest Martin seems a bit unsure of where to turn his attention and that’s understandable. It’s a common conundrum, do you start to pour more serious money into what was relatively a cheap car or do you sell and buy something that’s quicker from the outset or has greater potential? He’s done all the standard ‘go-faster’ mods that you’d expect and everything from here on is either expensive or going to give minimal gains and probably reduce practicality. For example, if he wants more power it’s either cams and a remap or a supercharger – both options are into the thousand’s. There is weight to be removed but it’s minimal, poly windows, fibreglass doors, bonnet etc, all possible, all counteracted if a roll cage is fitted. Aero – will the celica start to sprout wings and splitters?
We’re not sure what the plan is for Martin’s Celica but we hope he hangs on to it and continues to modify it and we look forward to finding out what’s been done by the next trackday!