Project TA22 Celica part 6 : The finish line

Joey Geurts

Posted on November 12 2014

The last few months around here has been quite a whirlwind to say the least and it’s been hard to get to some of the things that aren’t of the most absolute importance here but I think we’re beyond long overdue for an update on the blog so how about we catch up a little.

One I’ve been meaning to get around to is our long-term TA22 restoration project.  I made it all the way to part 5 and it would be a shame to not see it through so how about we finish up the next chapter.  Those of you that follow our Facebook or Instagram page know that car has since been completed (over a year ago now) and is now residing in it’s new home up north.

If you need a bit of a refresher, here’s the rest:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part4 Part 5

If you’re all caught up now, here’s  what the Celica looked like when we left off in part 5.

The paint is all finished up and the arduous task of undercoating the chassis is done.  It’s time to start getting this thing back together again.  The motor in this car has ran absolutely perfect with great compression numbers ever since we imported it from Japan so there was no need to tear it down so we ended up re-gasketing the entire motor while we had it out to make sure there wouldn’t be any peaky leaks.   The motor had recently been rebuilt in Japan with upgraded TRD 1750 cc pistons before we received it and whoever did it put some serious attention to the motor.   I noticed  head has been treated to a bit of a port job after removing the intake manifold.

And the intake manifold had been port-matched as well.

HKS cams!  These are the kind of surprises I like finding when I bring a car in from Japan, you never know exactly what you’re in for sometimes until you pull it apart…   kind of like Christmas.

While the motor was great on the outside, it definitely needed some attention before it ends up back in that immaculately painted engine bay.

The easiest place to start on any engine bay is a properly presented valve cover,  I decided to keep this one OEM wrinkle black.

Satin silver refinish on the TEQ oil cap and done.

The Trust exhaust manifold was in pretty sad shape so we ended up getting it ceramic coated in a color referred to as tungsten that I thought suited the car well, not too crazy or too plain.

And while we’re on the exhaust, I just had to keep that rare TRD muffler in place but this one ended up with an original satin black finish instead.

Every bracket on the motor was also stripped and refinished.

After disassembly and cleanup of the carbs and new steel braided fuel lines, this motor was starting to look good enough to be worthy of that engine bay.

Before the motor can be placed back in it’s final resting place I had to take care of a few other items that are easier to do with the motor out, starting with a re-built brake master cylinder, booster and clutch master cylinder.

Cleanup and installation of the brake lines and we’re ready to drop the motor back in…

Next up is stripping down and re-painting the radiator, installing the washer bottle with heat-protective tape to keep it from getting melted by the header and running the new heater hoses.  I also need to finish re-looming the crusty old wire harness.

The factory routing of the heater hoses was killing the look of the engine bay for me so I decided to re-route them in a way that made them not run directly over the header.  Much better.

There are a lot of little things that will look very out of place in a restored engine bay such as fender bolts, old zinc on brackets and even the wiper motor needs to be cleaned up and repainted.  Every single part gets some attention in a build like this.

If you read the previous posts, you’l remember that the battery tray had to be removed because of the amount of rust that was hiding underneath it so I fabricated this new tray out of stainless steel so rust would never be an issue again.  While I was at it, I also decided to make a custom SS bracket to go with it.

And there you have it.  It’s not a crazy wire tuck , or shaved bay but I wanted to keep this one closer to stock and still easy to work on.  The idea for me was to build it in a way the engineers at Toyota would have if they had a little more creative freedom.

Now onto the rest of the car, I still have a lot of parts that need some attention before they can be re-installed…

Let’s start with the strut brace, I stripped and re-finished the center and color matched the original Cusco blue on the mounting brackets for a bit of color in the engine bay to go along with the Cusco camber plates.

The grill is up next.  The nice thing is that the trim is stainless steel so with a bit of work with the polisher these can come out very nice.

The badge has to have the “GT” refinished, masked off and the surrounding area re-painted satin black to be the same as it was when it left the factory.


Remove the grill to be re-painted satin black again and we’re done.

The headlight bezels were in pretty poor condition just like everything else but at least the chrome was still in good shape.

After some more time with the polisher they turned out very nice, now all that was left was to mask off the chrome and re-paint the rest of the bezel satin black.

The stainless hood trim gets a a bit of polishing as well.

The front spoiler was mocked-up and modified to fit how we wanted in the primer stage of the car along with the counter sunk holes I made to work with the stainless steel button-head fasteners so there was never any worry it wouldn’t fit perfectly after getting it back from paint.

I could  mount the fenders and fender mirrors again now that I would be stuck working around them anymore.  It’s really starting to come together now…

Now to install the over-fenders.  We also spent a lot of time perfecting the fit on these so they would fit as nicely as possible without the use of any type of flashing or rubber used between the body and flare.

NOS Celica script and Dragon badges are now in place to go along with the perfect set of TRD (Tosco) wheels.

The C-pillar garnish needed some work so I started off taping off the chrome so the rest could be re-painted in the same charcoal grey that was used originally on the GT.

Moving along to the rear, the same had to be done to the tail light bezels.

Center panel gets the same treatment along with the GT badge.

I takes some hard polishing with the proper compound to get the tail lights looking new again but the results are well worth the effort.

After getting the rear spoiler back from paint we decided we wanted to black out the center how it was done when the parts were offered from TRD back in the day.

Same SS fasteners used on the front spoiler and over-fenders for continuity.

There’s just something about a TRD ducktail spoiler on a Celica coupe that is just so right.

FRP bumper and custom brackets mounted…   so close now!

While I was at it, I also decided to paint inside where the vents mount because I really dislike seeing the body color (especially if it’s light) behind any type of vent.  OCD can get the best of me in the restoration process but these are the small things that drive me crazy if they’re not taken care of.

Re-painted the grill behind the bare aluminum, clear coated vents and I really like the way it turned out.   It’s the little details that sum up the entirety of the build.

Interior is up next, I started out having the OEM carpet duplicated.  How cool are the rear seats in the GT?

The blue fabric on the Bride TTM-L’s was out of place and looking shabby so we ended up having them re-covered to the customer’s specifications as well.

The center console was in terrible shape so that needed to be restored  and we also tracked down an OEM clock since this one was missing.

I made a new rear parcel shelf to replace the old one and added a bit of padding underneath to cut down on the noise.

Now to re-install the door cards, but before I can do that a had to do a little trouble shooting with a weak motor on the power windows.  After not having much luck finding anyone locally that was willing to rebuild it, I decided to do some research and take it on myself.  Luckily almost everything on these older cars can be taken apart and rebuilt unlike newer cars.

It turns out that after a bit of careful cleanup on the commutator shown here:

And the brushes that contact it to provide power shown here:

It was just enough to get the windows working again along with some fine tuning of the window regulator alignment.  It just goes to show that you don’t necessarily need to outsource everything if you do a little homework and aren’t afraid to step outside your comfort zone from time to time and expand your skill set.   All that is left now is to replace the inner door plastic shield to keep out the moister and debris.

New NOS Toyota door moldings in place along with quarter window seals and the doors are done.

Last up is the trunk, yes the trunk.  Like I said, every part gets attention.  We’ll start with a new trunk seal to keep water out of the spare tire well that is a very common place for rust to occur if your seals are in poor condition.

Some of you that are familiar with the coupes know that the gas tank is located in the rear and the divider is made out of  flimsy particle board so they rarely survive.  Instead of tracking down another OEM unit I decide to make a gas tank cover/trunk divider out of aluminum instead.  The first step is to mockup the design out of cardboard and transfer the pattern onto the aluminum.

I then roll a bead into it with a bead roller I picked up specifically for this job that will add quite a bit of structure before bending the rest of the shape with the brake.

And it turns out a bit like this, way cooler than particle board.  New tire on the original spare and I recreated an OEM style spare tire cover to finish it all off.

Final polishing of a few areas by my friend Mauricio from Cio's Restoring the Dream, the only person I trust to paint our cars because of the pride he takes in his work and extreme attention to detail that fits in perfectly with our philosophy here at JDM Legends.

And that’s it!!!!  After a year of my life spent in the restoration process of this Celica it’s a very rewarding experience to take that first trip down the road and to hear those side drafts wail again.   I can honestly say that this is the most thorough restoration we’ve completed up to this point and I am very proud to have this Celica run the JDM Legends banner.  We have afew more restorations in the works as well as a few others to catch you up on so I will do my best to keep the blog updated.     Stay tuned….




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