Two of the biggest head turners at this year’s Toyotafest were a pair of seriously mean drag racers built on a daruma Celica chassis. Both were caged, tubbed, and running mills from the legendary Toyota JZ family.
Before we get to the technical details, let’s first admire how beautifully Cary Miller’s 1972 Celica sits, thanks to a 3/4 back-halved rear. Those are 195/50-15s on 5.5-inch-wide Centerlines in the front and massive 325/50-15s on 12-inch-wide Centerlines on the rear.
Pop the hood and you’ll find a Supra 1JZ straight-six with a turbo the size of a watermelon. It’s 72mm, to be exact, and though they haven’t dyno’ed the car Cary says it’s estimated to put out something north of 800 horsepower.
Power is pushed through a TH350 transmission and a Toyota 8-inch truck 4.10 locked diff. The steering box has been replaced with rack and pinion steering as well, and just for kicks Cary converted the car to RHD.
We first saw Cary’s car at Toyotafest years ago. Back then it had the guts but was covered in a coat of mottled primer. Now a coat of deep, deep gloss black paint has completely transformed the car. Best of all, it’s all all street-legal and smog-exempt.
Parked beside him was Karey McGee’s 1971 Celica powered by a 2JZ-GTE. It’s been dyno’ed at 450 horsepower to the wheels on E85 and low boost, fed through a Toyota R154 transmission and Ford 9-inch diff mounted on a tubbed 4-link rear. The wheels are 15×3-inch-wide Welds in the front and 12-inchers in the rear.
A lot of drag cars tend to look a little rough, built for purpose rather than style. Cary and Karey’s Celicas, however, are the rare examples that hit all the marks in both form and function. It doesn’t hurt that the Celica was one of the best-looking designs of the era to begin with. Together, the scene looks like the staging of an epic drag race.
Our Toyotafest 2017 coverage continues, but in the meantime check out Part 01 — New Digs, Part 02 — Celebrating the all-conquering Land Cruiser, and Part 03 — Fun to Drive, as well as a spotlight on Richard Pope’s 1977 Celica.
You can also revisit Toyotafest 2016 (Part 01, 02, 03, and 04), Toyotafest 2015 (Part 01, 02, and 03), Toyotafest 2014 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), Toyotafest 2013 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), Toyotafest 2012 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), Toyotafest 2011 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04, 05), and Toyotafest 2010 (Part 01, 02, 03).