Wish Upon A Star (Toyota Starlet)

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When did turbochargers go mainstream? Before we read you a list of turbocharged Japanese cars today, Those born in the 80’s will always remember the crazy turbo Starlet EP71.

Once in a while, you reflect on yourself on how much bigger you’ve grown over the years, and that was what meeting this little box was like. It was Toyota’s first supermini with a front-wheel drive. Just for comparison, our 2009 Hyundai Getz looks enormous next to it..

While the EP71 is rare, the EP70 here, is the most common surviving Starlet you might find today. Of course, pardon the EP71 body kit… afterall, which EP70 owner doesn’t resist the urge to put on some nice EP71 kit? Way before the Lancerlutions became popular right here.

The not-so-hot Starlet was still a joy to drive since it had the advantage of an extremely short wheelbase, plus a lightweight 750kg-ish body which began to move the moment the wind started to blow. Squeezing into this car isn’t just about getting in, it’s like being transported into the cyberpunk universe, with all the crazy 80’s high-tech dials looking at you – yep, they’re lifted from the Starlet EP71 as well..

Harking back to the old school, is a Weber 38/38 twin carburettors. You have to thank carbs for making intake modifications legal in Singapore because it does add a good performance upgrade, since it allows more fuel and air into the engine (and with a better ignition, more gainz).

To make most of the power, is an upgraded clutch, while the custom 4-2-1 exhaust header and custom free flowing exhaust is a welcome godsend, since Toyota no longer makes spares for this old girl. Instead of cramming more power, changing the gear ratios in the gearbox and fitting a LSD made this wonder fly.

The soft handling was banished with an entire series of upgrades, ranging from the coilovers, suspension control arms and additional chassis enforcement. Whiteline swaybars for both the front and rears, adjustable panhard rod (hello live rear axle). There is plenty of custom suspension work done too, with the FTuned Racing adjustable coilovers on Pedders springs and bolted to customized adjustable caster top mounts. Behind the front fenders, custom fender braces.

All of those sounds like this will be a real jiggly ride, but no matter, the interior is a nice place to be. Apart from a modern looking Defi to monitor the engine’s vitals, everything was fully redone: Restored front seats from original turbo Starlet joins the re-upholstered half leather roof and door panels. The Turbo steering wheel re-wrapped in leather, and it looks completely awesome in front of the Turbo dashboard with additional trays and speaker grilles.

Right now, you may think this car is slow car dressed up to look fast… at the hands of a skilled driver, this featherweight boxer is capable of delivering a podium finish. In Grassroots Autotest, a Starlet went up against a Mini Cooper S and a Civic Type R… and finished third. Mind you, it’s a 30 year old car vs cars 20 years younger.

Being a car enthusiast doesn’t mean owning a performance car, or throwing on the most expensive parts you can find. Even the unwanted and unloved rust bucket on sale on the internet for less than $2000 can deliver the most intense motoring experience you’ll ever have.

We need more cars like this. Badly!

Toyota Starlet

SARD aluminium radiator
XTreme super single organic clutch
Custom 4-2-1 exhaust header
Custom free flowing exhaust
Weber 38/38 twin carburettors, tuned by Gary’s Engineering
Gearbox with custom ratios and LSD
Cusco oil catch tank
FK Massimo engine oil

Front 24mm Whiteline swaybar
Rear 20mm Whiteline adjustable swaybar with custom mounts
Whiteline adjustable panhard rod
Whiteline Anti Lift Kit for front control arms
Whiteline adjustable front and rear strut bars
FTuned Racing adjustable coilovers with rear tuned Pedders springs and customized adjustable caster top mounts.
Custom fender bars

Fully re-upholstered in half leather including roof, door panels, turbo steering wheel re-wrapped in leather
Turbo dashboard with additional tray and speaker grilles
Front seats from original turbo Starlet, restored and re-upholstered last month
Full turbo meters and dash
Turbo Starlet steering wheel
Turbo Starlet original front seats fully restored
Defi Advance display and sensors

Starlet turbo bumpers
Starlet Turbo side skirts
Original working fog lights
Rear light cluster from Turbo


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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