Friday, March 8, 2013

Racing Panda

Text by: Ben Photos by: Ben

Performance. Now that’s a word we often hear around here.

Horsepower, torque, ponies, Kilowatts, ft-lbs, oomph, kick-in-the-ass - we’ve heard it all, yet some people out there are not hunting for the highest numbers. People like Mr K., for example, whose passion for cars originally revolved around the seductive looks of sports cars. Like many of us, he grew up fascinated by legendary cars such as the Supra and the Celica GT4, although he was never much one for the literature. Knowing power numbers or what engine was tucked under the hood did not really matter; what counted was that they had to look fast.

It was only until years later, when he got behind the wheel of his first car, that he started to pay attention to what was happening under the hood, and truly brainstormed how to improve it. A stroke of fate landed him a chance at owning an SS-I Celica; though it was not a GT4, it shared the namesake, and so he got it without hesitation.

As many of us do when we get a second-hand car, Mr K. drove straight to the workshop and started sorting out the kinks and adding what he wanted. The necessary works encompassed new engine mounts and a full gearbox overhaul. Once the car was running smoothly, he turned to the aesthetics, which began with a Bomex body kit and a carbon fibre hood complemented with a brand new white paint job.

He further enhanced the looks with a set of flat bronze 17” RM 2766 MB A-Tech rims shod in Bridgestone S001. Peeking from behind the five spokes, is a set of VTTR Mini 6 pot brakes ensures that the Celica halts promptly when needed.

At the rear rests Mr K.’s favourite mod – an APR GTC 200 GT-wing. “I simply love it. There’s not much use for it, but it just looks gorgeous!” he states.

Mr K. decided to direct his build toward looks and handling, which led him to upgrade the stock suspensions to BC V1 Series. Killing two birds with one stone, this endowed for a better handling and a lower, better-looking ride.

His quest for better handling called for him to throw in a handful of bars to keep his chassis tight and sturdy. TRD catered to his needs with front and rear strut bars, with an anti-roll bar completing the set.

With the upgraded handling capabilities, the Celica could do with more power and Mr K. obliged, turning his attention to the engine bay for a tad more push. This resulted in the 1.8L four-banger receiving a velocity stack allowing for more air to get to the bored-out throttle body and, ultimately, pump out more power. He also threw in a Cusco oil catch tank to release the pressure in the crank case and ensure a better reliability of the Toyota motor.

The 1ZZ-FE powerplant’s exhaust gases are channelled out of the combustion chamber through a Super Dynamics 4-2-1 headers, before howling down the Apex’i N1 Exhaust that graces the rear diffuser of the Bomex body kit.

Inside, the red and black theme follows Mr K.’s simple-yet-classic philosophy, with the only changes made being the steering wheel to a MOMO Street Fighter, and the gear knob to an NRG full carbon one.

The finishing touch is given by an Apex’i RSM to give Mr K. a quick overview of his engine’s status at all times.

All in all, Mr K. kept his Racing Panda clean, peppering only simple enhancements that go with his style without being overly ostentatious. This just goes to show that you don’t need to be the fastest around to look good and enjoy your ride. As to what’s next in store for his Celica, Mr K. answers “it depends on my next pay cheque!”


‘05 Celica SS-I
4-cylinders 1.8L
5-Speed Manual
Drive Layout


Bomex Bodykit, APR GTC 200 GT-Wing, Carbon Fibre Hood

Steering Wheel
MOMO Street Fighter
Gear Knob
NRG Full Carbon
Apex’i RSM

Velocity Stack, Big Bore Throttle Body
Super Dynamics 4-2-1 Headers, Apex’i N1 Exhaust
Cusco Oil Catch Tank

BC V1 Series Coilovers
RM 2766 MB A-Tech 17x8JJ 
Bridgestone S001 225/45/17
VTTR Mini 6 pot
TRD Front Strut Bar, TRD Anti-Roll Bar, TRD Rear Strut Bar


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