The Sainz Row (Toyota Celica GT-Four)

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Mention Mitsubishi and Subaru in the same question and the internet will explode in heated debate of which is the better car, until someone drops the word rally into the equation and argument ends here.

Mitsubishi no longer runs a rally team. The latest WRX, without discounting that it is still a good street car, is no longer the rally machine it was. These two brands were as closely associated to rallying as WRC itself. However, for those who were born before the Playstation 2 generation, it was, surprise, Toyota, that kick started the Japanese domination of the rally scene.

But if you look at the global scene, Toyota wasn’t the only Japanese manufacturer making headlines in the motorsports industry. Mazda dominated the LeMans and Honda was podium finishing in Formula 1, Nissan was causing trouble for the Australians and was winning tons in Japan.

More on this Celica. The base model was a boring 1.6 litre FWD with a 4 speed automatic which is more of an insult to itself than a shadow of a rally legend. Then, came the Grand Touring – Full-time On-road Uniquely Responsive, in short, GT-Four. Sadly, only 25 came to Singapore and it is largely forgotten today.

So, why does this car exist? It’s due the WRC Group A rally regulations. To qualify for Group A, manufacturers had to sell a minimum number of cars to the public in the form of Group A editions, which were effectively a legal version of the rally car.

Group A are highly sought after, as they so closely reflect the vehicle which achieved motorsport success. Today however, WRC has changed so much, that cars used in competition are more distant from the the car you see on the road. That’s why those who have lived through the Group A glory days will remember such cars.

The good stuff is, if you ever see one on sale, it will be the Carlos Sainz Limited Edition, since it was the only GT-Four model that was ever sold here. And this caught the eye of the current lady owner who has an impressive repertoire of cars she had owned, ranging from the DB8 to the CZ9A.

“I want to own a car from every brand,” she quipped when asked about her choice of the ST185.

The GT-Four Carlos Sainz Limited Edition was limited to 5,000 units worldwide, and it had several unique features that further improved performance over the original GT-Four. Firstly, the intercooler was upgraded to an air-to-water unit, a Torsen limited-slip rear differential to compliment the viscous LSD center diff, upgraded synchros and a short shifter.

But, when dealing with a car way into the second COE renewal, the price of loving an old car is to replace all the wear and tear components, either keeping it as close to stock or, in this case, having a ton of fun pushing more power out of the original block!

While Toyota built the car robust to handle all conditions, nothing hurts with a little extra cooling with better radiators and more coolers. In this case, the top intercooler setup was swapped for a front mount option instead – for better cooling performance.

Befitting a car with pedigree, the chassis saw the most upgrades, with coilovers, stiffer roll bars, lighter prop shafts, and LSD to allow this example to sing through the curves. Last but not least, with the car pushing the scales at 1.5 tons, better brakes are always a good idea, and sticking to the OEM high performance option is a brilliant idea since it delivers both performance upgrades plus the ease of finding spares.

And yes, if you were wondering, the pop up headlights… work! Ahh!!! We’re in love! Through the intense resto-mod process, other modifications such as the console, as well as the modern motorsports-accurate OZ Superturismo were added to complete the look, as the original OZ Chronos were too rare and too much of a financial hell hole to obtain.

With such extensive modifications, the entire project was completed in a custom livery that replicates Carlos’ exact car used in the 1993 Monte Carlo Rally. It really takes a special kind of car nut to understand the significance of this car before Toyota focused on making money instead of making cars, but yeah, we definitely salute the mad enthusiasts who do!

Toyota Celica GT-Four Carlos Sainz Limited Edition

Motec M800
innovate Wideband
MOCAL 28 row oil cooler
Upgraded 3 core Aluminium Radiator
Mishimoto Front Mount Intercooler
Injectors are injector dynamics 725CC
Forged piston and conrod

AMR engineering coilovers
Upgraded Whiteline rear Anti Roll Bar
Cusco Rear LSD
Driveshaft Shop Carbon Center Propeller Shaft
Lexus LS430 4 piston Brake Calipers Front,
ST205 2 piston rear calipers
Superpro undercarriage Bushings
OZ Superturismo WRC

STACK instrument panel

Faithful reproduction of the WRC version


About Author

Always finding ways to keep his hands full, Krado loves to tinker with his car whenever he has the free time. Usually ends in tears or a multiple fluid facial.

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