Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Second Best

Words and Snaps by Ben

Initial D is one of the foundations of many motorheads out there. At some point, we all rooted for Takumi and his understated AE86 to win, and he never failed to disappoint. And then as he made friends, so did we, and we learnt to love more and more iconic Japanese cars.

Most got to follow the main heroes as icons of our passion, yet some were moved by the other characters, the supporting roles that trade the lack of genius with other skills to get by.

In Joseph's case, it was Itsuki, Takumi's best friend and the comic relief of the series that caught his heart. Itsuki bought a Corolla in the hopes of following Takumi and his AE86's footsteps, but ended up being laughed at for buying an AE85 Levin, the downtuned, SOHC version of the Corolla.

Nevertheless, Itsuki never faltered. He decided to hold on to his AE85 and hone his driving skills after Takumi showed him that the driver skills can make any car fast. Later in the show, he turbocharged his Levin, and although he knew he'd never be as good as Takumi, he never gave up on his dream to be the second best.

This determination and passion to forge on with a lesser car struck a chord in Joseph's heart. Since he was not able to get an AE86 here in Singapore, he settled for second best: an EP70 Starlet.

Be it a coincidence or not, the Starlet's front end design resembles that of Itsuki's Levin, and as a tip-of-the-hat towards the hard-headed character, Joseph placed an Akina Speed Stars decal above the right headlight, where Itsuki placed his.

Like the anime character, Joseph then started modifying his EP70 to put up more of a fight.

This is where Joesph and this Starlet's story began.

When he drove her out of the second-hand dealer's lot, Joseph's "Starleto", as he came to call her, was in a badly maintained-state. This only further motivated him to restomod her into something he could not only drive everyday, but also pit in the gymkhana and autocross arena.

As the EP70 is an old and rather rare car on our shores, Joseph had to think out of the box and find parts that would match his Starlet from across the Toyota range. The car you see before you is an amalgam of three generations of Starlet, a dash of Corolla AE101, and a pinch of Charade.

With his plans to take her to do gymkhana, he upgraded the suspensions to D2 adjustable coilovers, and strengthened the front end with a strut bar. For safety, he swapped the front brakes with those of an AE101 Corolla, and replaced with rear rotors with those of an EP82 Starlet.

He originally swapped the 999cc E1 engine in favour of a 1,500cc SOHC carburator powerplant, but the engine was in a bad shape and didn't last long. With a wish for more power, one idea came to his mind: to bring in a half-cut from Japan and upgrade his Starleto with it.

As the tide brought his plan to bear, the container doors opened to the front half of an EP82 GT Turbo. Joseph, like Itsuki, was going to get the extra oomph of a turbo.

Joseph then proceeded to give his EP70 a fresh new heart in the form of the 4E-FTE engine and its CT9 turbocharger. With its new power plant, Starleto went from pulling 55hp to delivering a whopping 133hp and 157Nm of torque through the front wheels.

While these numbers are not record-breaking, when matched to a 756kg platform, they become a very different ball game.

Joseph upgraded the intake with an open pod cone from Apexi, and let the engine bellow out its anger through a non-restrictive custom 2-inch straight through exhaust to churn out a bit more power, but also for the pleasure of the ears.

An EP71 radiator was added to complement the stock EP82 top-mounted intercooler, and to make sure all the power would get to the front wheels, Joseph upgraded the drive line with a Trinity clutch.

With his power and handling needs addressed, Joseph then turned to the aesthetics, and slapped on an EP71 Sport kouki full body kit, along with its rear spoiler.

Inside, Joseph decided to upgrade things too, and trimmed the EP82 dashboard to fit in the cabin of his EP70. He then  threw in JDM sport pedals, and upgraded the gear stick to a Tom's short shifter.

Finally, he brought one last upgrade to the interior with some Charade GTTi front and back seats to replace the original worn out ones, and managed to get his hands on a Momo Corse steering wheel.

With this, his Starleto was ready to take on whatever Joseph was going to throw at it, and he surely never hesitated to do so, as seen on this three-wheeling action shot back from the DriveritGymkhana + Auto-X Day.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and the limited paper-life of cars in Singapore meant the end of Joseph and his Starlet's story. This is is why at the time of the shoot, she wasn't wearing her Enkei TRD 5-spoke wheels that you can see above, but a random set of 16 inchers.

Perseverance being his motto, he is not giving up on his Toyota passion, and his Enkei wheels have already found home on his next project.

This, however, will be the story for another time.


Starlet EP70
4E-FTE 1,300cc Turbocharged
5-Speed Manual
Drive Layout
Max Output
133hp, 157Nm of torque

Power Mods
EP82 4E-FTE 1,300cc Turbo
Open pod Apexi Cone
EP71 Starlet Radiator
CT9 Starlet EP82 Turbocharger with Stock Dump Valve
Custom 2-inch Straight Through Exhaust
Trinity Clutch Plate for EP82 Starlet

Goodyear Assurance 195/50R16
Front AE101 Brakes, EP82 Rear Rotors
D2 Hard/Soft Adjustable Coilovers
Front Strut Bar

Starlet EP71 Sport Kouki Full Body Kit
Starlet EP71 Sport Rear Spoiler

Starlet EP82 Dashboard
Daihatsu Charade GTTi Front and Rear Seats
Steering Wheel
Momo Corse Steering Wheel
Gear Knob
Tom’s Short Shifter
JDM Sport Pedals

Joseph would like to thank Danny aka Daws from Kuala Lumpur, and Saber Tan aka SaberGT from Singapore.


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