A white elephant is a valuable possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness.
I think that this description is particularly suitable for my car, hence the name of this project. Note - this is a repost.. so I have dated things as such - car came off the road in Aug 2007... over 2 years off the road lol.. and still not much done.
As you read through, you'll find I've changed my mind several times. I have it left untouched because sometimes its useful to understand the thought processes.
Thanks to stagefumer for egging me on - go motivate him to finish his project :lol: viewtopic.php?t=1861
Enjoy the white elephant
Jan 21, 2008
I'm Dave/DeeCee and I am a GT4-A owner from New Zealand.
I thought I'd chuck this in as well as I had already written it for st18x.com when the admin asked "why did you choose a 5th Generation Celica?"
Note: a lot of references to New Zealand local places and content, but i think you'll get the drift
Interestingly enough, I fell into Celicas by accident.
Around 6 years ago, I was looking for a hatch, mainly Civics and the like as I always enjoyed whizzing around in the smaller hatches.
Unfortunately at the time, I couldn't find any within my price range and was desperately needing a car so when I was around in Miramar looking at cars on the side of the road, I happened to notice a ST182 Black Celica GTR for a half decent price.
The GTR was selling for 3300, and had to be sold that weekend as the owner was leaving for Aus. So I had a test drive and negotiated down to 3000, but also bought some of the sounds installed as well so that increased the price a little.
Considering that I had only driven 1600s up till that time, driving around a 2.0L was a bit of difference!
In the end, the curvy bio design got me hooked and for the couple of years I had it, it was low maintenance and a good runner. And as all things go, I ended up doing some little mods here and there, mostly stereo stuff.
In the end, I found that the GTR was just a big wallowing pillow compared to the GT4 I was about to own!
A friend of mine was selling his GT4A (3 years ago now). Now this GT4 he claimed was a RC model, but in fact was a standard GT4 but just A spec. I took for a test drive and man... it was fast, it handled well (at least compared to the GTR) and it was straight as.
Little things such as the factory widebody got me hooked and knowing that my mate was actually a nanna driving it just made the decision better and better knowing that it had had a pretty good life.
Also: he didn't like driving it in town, his wife drove in town; he didn't fang it cos he isn't a driver and he'd get scared when he'd put the foot down; the car was garaged all its life; he has all 90% of receipts; car had turbo rebuild in the last year at the time.
So after doing some research (which is now a sticky on toyspeed) and finding out that it wasn't an RC, I still bought the GT4A, but just negotiated down and ended up buying the GT4 for $6200. Yep, it may have seemed overpriced, but considering the history of it, I was very happy paying that.
Subsequently over the last couple of years, I haven't had a chance to do many major modifications, but more recently over the last year, I have made numerous purchases to increase the potential of my GT4A incl wheels and braces and suspension and RC intercooler and engine components.
As of August last year this was the car:
At this stage, I had removed the AC and cleared out the underside of the dash for my big audio install. I had also got some brand new 18" wheels in the pattern that I wanted and had installed some king springs and some new KYB shock absorbers. The celica was looking tight!!!
Then someone dinged me on the front guard on my first night out :cry: god that fucking pissed me off! you can notice it in the front guard on the above picture
Anyway I had gone to VTNZ for the warrant near the end of August and expected the car to fly through (esp since the mods were very cosmetic and nothing much more..) and was knocked back by the inspector saying that an oil leak in the car had oil all over the underside of the engine and was just impossible to tell if the car was mechanically sound!
I knew that the engine had a slight oil leak but never thought it was that bad!
I talked to my mates mechanic and he was talking about replacing all the hoses etc and potentially pulling the engine to get everything fixed up which was going to cost 1k - 1.2k and that really got me agonising over decisions. Don't get me wrong, he's a good mechanic, but some of the figures he was talking about at the time were a lot of money. He suggested that he clean up one hose that was the obvious leak, he'd slap a warrant on it and we'd sell it on and look to a diff car.
So here I was with a car that I'd just chucked 2.5k worth of wheels, tyres and suspension onto only two weeks earlier and was now talking about selling it!!
Around 1 week after talking to the mechanic, I killed the syncro gear hub on number 3 and with that, I agonised over what I should do with the GT4. Um.. i can't exactly sell the car with a dead gearbox now! I was planning to off load the car and everything with it and go buy a turbo altezza, or even supercharge the 3sge, as another friend and his dad were using a supercharged beams 3sge in their race car.
After talking with my work colleague who had recently done some engine work on a couple of his cars, he made something along the lines of this statement (note: he's an accountant, so the whole cost/benefit ratio comes into play):
If you buy that Altezza:
a) you'll have a debt to pay. The interest on that debt is money you are giving away.
b) you don't know what has been done to that "new" car. Have the belts been done, has it been thrashed or had an accident etc.
c) if you fix your car, then it you know what has been done and know what should be next in terms of maintenance instead of something of the unknown that could happen.
d) its cheaper to fix your car instead of going out and know what has been done to it instead of buying that other thing which you will want to modify and giving away money while you pay back the loan + interest on a car you don't know the history of.
In the end, the accountants words (sage old man..) hit home and I called Miles Udy gearbox specialists and quizzed him over things to be done and a quote on the work. In the end, it cost just under $3k to remove the box, and replace the cracked syncro hub and all the syncros in the box. I also got him to remove the engine so that I could fix up the leak as well.
Now, you may say that what I get done is expensive, but then again, I know that its been done once and its been done right!
So that is where the project currently sits. I have the engine on a stand / gearbox on the floor of garage. I continually buy parts here and there (most recent was the Tein adjustables I purchased) and I'm still focussed on re-engineering the celica to what my dream car would be.
Most people who know me, constantly ask when the Celica will be back on the road as a joke, but they also know that I'm a very busy person who is starting up a couple of businesses as well as working full time. Understandably, projects like this take time as I want to do as much as possible as I can to ensure that the costs are lower and to ensure that certain areas of work are done to my level of expectations.
So, i'll stick with my GT4 until I'm finished as it will have all my dream car bits and pieces and it will be as original as I want it to be.
The Bio design has actually endured a long time in terms of looking modern on todays roads. It never ceases to amaze me that it can still look reasonably fresh compared to more modern cars and this is after 18 years.
My mate said (after I mentioned that a rally light pod for the hood was for sale..) that he wished I'd gone for the rally look, and after watching a Celica dvd I downloaded, I can see where he would get that idea. I still have some mudflap material in the garage lol..
Thats my Celica story in a nutshell