View Full Version : Project: Celica Prime

05-03-2010, 09:07 AM
My Celica is finally moving up from being a lowly no-name autobot to becoming a Prime. So what will the Matrix and me be upgrading him with? Lots of shiney stuff and some muscles to flex of course.

But before I get ahead of myself, we'll start off with some history/pics.

My Celica GT-S was built Dec. 12th 1989, shipped to the US, sent to a dealer in NC and sold January 8th 1990. From what I know, it was primarily driven in the NC area until it was brought up to PA in 2005. I bought it a few weeks later for $1,000. It was in pretty good condition except the clutch was going and the paint was faded and clear coat was peeling in places.

My first gift to my 'new' Celi was a set of 15" Coil rims from American Racing and red paint for the calipers. I also cleaned up the header cover, it looked pretty bad when I got it. I also got a set of seat covers for Christmas that year.

Shortly after I shipped out to Basic Training and then sent to Aviano Italy. I didn't get the chance to ship it so it stayed at home. While I was gone I bought an Invader body kit and a 'shogun' spoiler for it. When I came home on leave I put the whole kit on with a little help from my dad and one of my friends when they had the time. I also put a new headunit since the vol. down button quit working in the old one.

Fortunately that was all the futher I dove into the ricer pool. I had a few other plans in that direction but never got around to them.

A little while later the aftermarket bumper had to be removed to pass state inspections (the actual steel bumper had to be reinstalled) but my dad forgot about the bolts holding it on and accidentally ripped them out of the fiberglass. He also took the time to sand, smooth and primer where needed to so it would be ready for paint. When I finally came home and was being transferred to Hill AFB in Utah, I decided to remove the spoiler too. It was annoying to look at and parts of it had cracked and would hold water, not fun when I opened the hatch. I filled the holes for the 'shogun' and poked out the bondo we plugged the OEM holes with to re-mount the center of the 3-piece, I also bought and installed a set of JDM rain visors. During my time home I found out that the guy who did my clutch had forgotten to put all the bolts in for the right CV axel's carrier bearing. I was on my way to watch the World of Outlaws when one of the brackets came off. It wasn't until we were on our way back that anything noticable was happening. I got within 1/4 mile of home when the CV axel pulled out of the tranny. I ordered all the bolts and put the bearing and the one remaining bracket back onto the engine block. Good thing it happened then, because I was about to take a 1,800 mile road-trip out to Utah.

We made it to Utah without any major problems. At one point I hit a blown semi tire that I couldn't avoid in traffic. It cracked the lower part of my front bumper and I ended up losing a foglight about 300 miles later because it was knocked loose. About a month after I got to Utah my water pump went bad and blew my radiator. I got both replaced (I did the radiator, I had the local Toyota dealer do the pump since I didn't have the tools) and haven't had any problems since.

Once I moved out of the dorms on base and got an apartment with a garage, I started doing some minor modifications. The first was adding the hood spoiler and mirrors from the ST185 I had in Italy. I forgot to pull all the stuff for the mirrors so I adjusted them manually. I also re-installed the side pieces of the 3-piece spoiler.

Heading into summer 2009 I decided it was about time the Celi got a new paint job and to save some cash and do some learning, I decided to do it myself. I went out and got a HPLV gun, a compressor, and about a gallon of Super Red II. Over the 4th of July weekend I washed, taped and shot. It didn't come out perfect, but the whole goal was one color, not three. It ended up being about one thick coat but I didn't get any runs or bugs in the paint.



Sorry 'bout the blurry painting pics; roommate didn't really get the hang of my camera 'till about 1/2 way through.

I started gathering parts shortly after as I deployed to Afghanistan the next weekend (July 8th). I had a lot of time on my hands to figure out which way I wanted my build to go and research the parts. I finally decided I'd go pretty much all suspension since my Celi was about to turn 20 in Dec. and then a little easier breathing with a basic Intake/Header/Exhaust upgrade and do some cosmetic updates.

This winter one of my CV boots got sliced open on ice, eventually making the outer joint to seize. Went to Autozone and swapped the whole axle for a new one, might do the passenger side soon if I get the time/money.

Underside pics:

That pretty much brings you to speed up until the begining of the build.

05-03-2010, 10:35 AM
Ok, time for the shiney goodness. Here's the parts (in no particular order) that will bump up the GT-S to Prime.

Autobot logos and Autobot oil cap:

JDM power-folding mirrors (now with heated glass!):

GT Styling Solarwing II:

Autopal DOT euro-style H4 headlamps:

Engine Ice hi-performance coolant:

Ledglow interior accent lighting kit:

Clear turn signals (might smoke 'em):

JDM clear corners:

DDM Tuning Hi/Lo 55w 8K HID kit:

6th gen. adjustable rear control arms:

Pivot headlamp controller:

Helix throttle body spacer:

Suspension Techniques rear anti-sway bar:

Megan Racing coilovers:

Sparco racing pedals (from my 185):

ACE Engineering front underbody brace:

eBay header:

Garage Pro racing seats:

Wedge Engineering aftermarket seat brackets:

5-point racing harnesses w/cam-lock:

JDM vented tails (including center):

My led tail/signal conversion (http://www.celicatech.com/forums/showthread.php?p=30096543#post30096543):
(pic of final product)

Spectre intake:
http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/1/0/0/spectre-8208-modular.jpg(example pic)

Custom cat-back exhaust:

TWM Performance short shifter & Piston weighted shift knob (gunmetal):

6th gen GT spoiler:

6th gen GT-Four riser blocks:

Moog rear swaybar endlinks:

Stainless steel brakelines (coated black):

Front and rear strut tower braces:

17" Sport Edition CE rims, gunmetal w/machined lip

Kuhmo Ecsta HP tires

Parts from:
eBay: Logos, oil cap, corners, turnsignals, belts, heated mirrors, TB spacer, header, Pivot controller, Autopals, valve caps, strut braces
Carsponsorships.com: Coolant, interior lights
Pittfirefighter (6gc.com): Spoiler
(6gc.com): Control arms
DDM Tuning: HID kit
JCWhitney: Seats
RedRkt01: Coilovers, anti-swaybar
ChrisD: JDM Mirrors
Trance4c/Conrad_Turbo: Underbody brace
Summit Racing: Rear visor
TWM Performance: Shifter & knob
Wedge Engineering: Seat brackets
Autozone/Checker O'reily: Paints, intake kit, spark plugs, tools, transmission mounts, endlinks
Master Muffler: Cat-back exhaust
Techna-fit(alamomotorsports.com): Brakelines
Tirerack.com: Wheels and tires

I know I got the vented tails from someone on here, just can't remember who...

05-03-2010, 11:49 AM
The tear-down

I jumped the gun (April 6th, 2010) after work due to a touch of "Mechanic's Itch" and pulled the interior from the doors back. No seats, no belts, no panels. This helped a bit because I was able to identify that my quarter-panel windows were leaking a little bit. Nothing a little sealant and a some cleaning won't fix.

I decided to paint all the panels black that weekend (April 10th) to match my new seats and belts and my eventual interior color scheme.
I used Krylon gloss black paint for all the hard plastic pieces.


April 16th, just before I went TDY to Vegas for two weeks, I pulled the rest of the interior that wouldn't affect driveability; door panels, dash trim, passenger seat and center console.
(Yes, I realize I forgot the passenger seat belt, lol)

To make the now-much-louder ride bearable, I did a little redneck engineering to keep the radio in place. 2 wire brushes and rubberbands ftw!:biggthumpup:

More interior pull/paint (May 8/9). I used Rust-oleum fabric and vinyl paint for all the 'soft' interior pieces like the armrest, dash and door handles.


Center console rebuilt to get an idea of what it'll look like:

May 15/16: The final elements of the interior were painted/dyed this weekend. Everything is now ready to go back in next weekend.

The seats didn't get as dark as I wanted, but for the time/money spent I can't really complain. Ignore the front seat, it was a prop for the headliner.

These were my tools of the trade for the color change. I haven't used the red engine paint or the lens tint. The red will be for my calipers and I'm not sure if I'll smoke my lights just yet (paint was buy 1 get 1). I used the Krylon Rust Tough for all the hard plastic, the Rust-oleum fabric & vinyl for all the vinyl pieces (soft stuff), the Rust-oleum black Engine enamel for anything in the engine bay (strut bar, intake, etc.) and the Simply Spray for the fabrics.

05-03-2010, 02:13 PM
Engine bay work

This is where all the underhood goodies get page time. There won't be too much going on here but everything helps.

Intake work
We'll start off with the intake side. Before I could do my custom intake I put in my TB spacer to get all the dimesions right. In the process I had to get some new vacuum lines to make up for the extra distance.

I bought the Spectre modular intake mock-up kit a few months back so I could lay-out my intake and get exactly what I needed to do the job. I also needed to get a 2.5" to 3" hose adapter to get it all to 'bolt up'.

After I got it the way I wanted it I went down to Autozone and got all the parts I needed. I also picked up a cleanable air filter covered for 10 yrs/10,000 miles. The pipes were a little to shiney for me so I decided to subdue them a bit in high-temp gloss black.

I got an intake bracing kit from Spectre to make sure the intake didn't move around on me.

I also moved the air temp sensor to the filter to help keep things accurate. (Before I put it in the filter, hard to get a pic underneath)

Exhaust work
I decided to go with a custom cat-back set-up from Master Muffler in Layton UT. They hooked me up with 2.25" pipe from the header, through the flex pipe and resonator back to a Magnaflow 3" dual tipped muffler (model 14815). Total price of ~$630, no cat.

They even let me hang onto the old system, just in case.

Next I installed the "eBay header". The job was pretty straightforward, but the old header was a little reluctant to go. I eneded up pulling it along with the bracket it attaches to and needed to use High-temp sealant to seal between the new header and the rest of my exhaust.

I also installed my NGK spark plug wires and Bosch copper plugs.

Drove 15 minutes to work that night, nice and bronze. (There are a few fingerprints though, I forgot to wipe it down before I started it up.)

05-03-2010, 04:16 PM
The Inside Job

All my interior work will be going here. This will pretty much comprise of the re-installation of all the stuff I pulled plus the mods I'm putting in.

First up: TWM Performance short shifer/weighted knob.

Pretty straight-forward and they provide instructions so I'll just do the before/after.
(I'll get one up from before the console removal later) Just wanted to add that some time ago I removed the leather cover on the stock knob because it was falling apart. I peeled it off and cleaned up the knob with some goo-gone/windex. I actually think it was better nice and smooth rather than with the old cover.


For the time-being I redneck-rigged a cupholder so I didn't need to hold everything in my lap.

Got the headliner re-installed and some of the support pieces

Mirror Wiring (June 17)
I had to make a custom wire harness for the JDM mirrors, so I used some cables I had lying around. It starts behind the e-brake where the armrest goes, around the shifter and through the center console, around the footwells and into the doors.

I had to pull the rubber grommet out of the door to get the wire ran through. There isn't a whole lot of room in that thing for an extra harness.

Interior Rebuild
First part fo the re-install went along with the new mirror wires. I wanted to check fitment and lenght so I put the passenger door back together for the time being. Looks pretty good in all black.

June 22
Re-installed the center console and rear seat area (belts and plastic only, no seats) since the majority of wiring is done. Also installed the red LED accent lighting, put the wiring under the center console and the control next to the driver seat.

LED accents on:

05-03-2010, 06:46 PM
Exterior Mods/Upgrades

The first major upgrades I did on the exterior were the headlights and foggies. Ran the HIDs and put in some aftermarket fogs from walmart/autozone. I also did the Fogs rewire so they can be on with the lights off.

Old vs. new foggie

New fogs in (8K HIDs on)

On w/o headlights

55W/8K HID glory in Autopal Euro DOT housings. These things are absolutely amazing; pure white light, almost like snow.

I finally decided it was time to put the Autobot logos on Prime and they fit quite well.

05-04-2010, 11:28 AM
The Groundwork

This is where I'm putting all of my suspension upgrades: Megan Racing coilovers, Suspension Techniques rear swaybar, Moog endlinks, SS brakelines, strut tower braces (When I get them) and ACE Engineering front underbody brace. I put everything together over a long weekend so I'll put the pics in the best order possible.

This was my goal for the weekend, you decide if I accomplished it.

Day 1 started around 11AM. I got the Celi up on jacks early and worked late into the night.

Passenger side front

Passenger side rear

Old vs. new

Coilover installed

Underbody brace

Day 1 came to an end around 3AM, I only was able to get the front coilovers in and the underbody brace.

Day 2: I started around 1PM but it got really hot so I waited until 8-9 when it cooled down enough to work more than 10 minutes at a time. I finally managed to break all the brakelines loose and pull all of the old components. I decided just to cut the endlinks off the old struts since they were rusted together.

New vs. old swaybar

New swaybar in. (I know the bushings aren't in the pic, I didn't have the grease for them) I was surprised how easily the new bar went in; The old one took me about 1/2 hour to get out, the new one went in in about 10 minutes, maybe less.

I repainted the brake calipers as well while I had them out.

After parts installation:

Old parts out:

Out-of-the-box ride height was a bit low, I acutally had to lower the rear about an inch just to bolt up the coilovers to the hubs. The whole car sat even lower than the Type-R, the Celi's roofline was about 1/4-1/2 inch lower than the Teg. After it settled a bit the fronts were about 1/4" clearance and the rears were actually sitting at -1/4" under the fenders.

There was no way I would've made it out of my driveway.

I got caught up helping a co-worker redo his brakes on sunday and I had to work early monday morning for a bit so I all I managed to get accomplished was getting the front ride height adjusted (raised 1-1/2"). I'll be doing the rears this week (raising about 2") and bleeding my brakes so I can get it back on the road.

UPDATE: April 09 2011

I just got my strut tower braces in a few weeks ago and installed last weekend. I had to do a little drilling and then some dremel work to make them fit but they came out great.
I snagged some quick-release pins from work to make the rear bar easily removable for when I need the hatch for cargo. Thier primary use is to lock aircraft landing gear in place so I'm sure they'll stand up to the stress of some hard driving.

UPDATE: April 19 2011

I ordered a set of wheels and tires from Tirerack.com after apparently running over a 6" nail, ruining my driver rear tire. I figured this was as good a time as any to pick up the rims I was looking at while replacing my tires. I placed my order around 4-5 PM Monday afternoon and they showed up before noon Tuesday, I was quoted 3-4 day shipping. I am not complaining. Total package (incl. mount, balance, road hazard protection, and shipping) just shy of $850.

Prime is now ready to squeeze a nice big brake kit in those wheel wells, but that's an order further in the future.

05-04-2010, 01:42 PM

05-05-2010, 08:48 AM

05-05-2010, 09:07 AM
Open for comments.

Mods: Please 56K this

05-06-2010, 06:57 PM
Wow, that was an awesome write up so far. Nice history on the car too. So you are sticking with the 5sfe for now? Certainly keep us updated on the interior as I have tossed the idea around to redoing mine black.


05-07-2010, 12:44 AM
wish i had money to spend like that

05-07-2010, 01:15 AM
wish i had money to spend like that

Don't we all.... But at least he is doing it wisely imho:biggthumpup:

05-07-2010, 01:37 AM
Looking good so far!

I second the wishing I had that kinda capitol laying around.... My project would be moving much faster LOL

05-07-2010, 04:12 AM
wish i had money to spend like that

Actually these parts have been coming in over (almost) the past year.

I started my researching the big stuff while I was deployed since I had pretty much nothing else to do. Guess I forgot to add that to the history, painting was done the weekend before I deployed last year.

05-07-2010, 04:30 AM
I started my researching the big stuff while I was deployed since I had pretty much nothing else to do. Guess I forgot to add that to the history, painting was done the weekend before I deployed last year.

Where were you deployed? What group?

05-07-2010, 04:50 AM
I deployed to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan with the 421 Aircraft Maint. Squadron from Hill, I can't remember at the moment what we were designated while there though. I'll find out when I go into work tonight.

05-07-2010, 05:16 AM
Thank you for your service!

It appears your reward is a very nice looking Celi ;-)

05-12-2010, 07:06 PM
Updated with pics from last weekend.

05-17-2010, 09:23 AM
Updated with final tear-down pics and the begining of all my underhood upgrades.

05-17-2010, 07:42 PM
want some more infor on the TB spacer please, airaid doesnt make one for our cars so this is a good alternative.. any benifit from it that you can tell?

05-17-2010, 08:30 PM
WOW score on the parts! where did you get the autobot emblems?

Why did you mount the air filter under the car? i would worry about the distance and the possible road damage and water intake.

05-18-2010, 01:53 AM
Updated with new part pic, intake pic, and short shifter pics.

Now for Q&A time:
Celica9303: I got the TB spacer from a company called Helix Power Tower on eBay (link here (http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/97-98-99-TOYOTA-CELICA-2-2L-HELIX-THROTTLE-BODY-SPACER-_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQhashZitem518c252ebcQQitemZ35024 3598012QQptZMotorsQ5fCarQ5fTruckQ5fPartsQ5fAccesso ries)). As far as benefits go; I haven't had the Celi on the road since I pulled the dash. As soon as I get the basic running gear back in I'll let you know.

Mr. Lojo: I got the Autobot emblems on eBay here (http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270390365315&viewitem=&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWAX%3AIT). Check out thier store too because they also did my oil cap and offer a wide variety of colors as well as Decepticon emblems (if your into that, lol).

As for where I mounted the filter; I put it that low to catch the colder/denser air (purpose of a cold-air intake). I made sure that it didn't hang lower than any of the bracing under the car though and installed the breather filter up top to avoid sucking in water when it rains.

06-23-2010, 05:48 AM
Bump for updates:

Interior install pics updated
Exterior mods/pics updated
Engine bay pics: air temp sensor relocation pic added

Check out the redneck cupholder.

06-24-2010, 01:17 AM
Any update?? And do your mirrors retract? Or do you not have the switch and control box.....I can't find my control box....its here some where ......I really really hope it is

06-24-2010, 01:56 AM
I have the switch and control box, that's what the custom wire harness is for. I just haven't gotten them installed yet, the ones on it now are from my old 185 (folding but not powered). I hooked the powered ones up to test my connections and they worked, more or less. I'll try to get them complete this weekend by hardwiring everything since I don't have the car-side connectors.

06-26-2010, 08:44 PM
Nice work, Im interested to seee how your intake/throtle body spacer works out for you.

06-30-2010, 10:06 AM
From what I could tell the TB spacer and intake made the throttle more responsive. Could be that I had to change where the cable sits so it didn't contantly high-rev. It also makes a great 'turbo spooling' sound at about 1/4 throttle.

Got my exhaust done this week too, updates on that once I get the pics on here.

07-01-2010, 07:03 AM
Nice, what I am specifcly wondering is how that relocation of the air filter is working out for you as far as grabing more/colder air , It looked like a lot of turns to get it where it ended up.

I just finshed my struts today HUGE difference.. I need 2 rear stabilizer links, I am goign to read back through your posts, did I read you used gen 6 rear stabilzer links ?

Ok I just went back and see you did say you are running gen 6 rear stabilzer links, Im going to look for a set myself... I also wanted to ask you do you notice a difference with the engine Ice , in other words would you reccomend?

07-01-2010, 09:18 AM
Updated with exhaust work pics.

@Omega: The intake seems to be doing its job well enough, it was the easiest/inexpensive way to route it. Most people go through the wheelwell but I havent relocated my battery yet, so it would have required some cutting.

I plan on running the 6th gen rear control arms, theres a thread on it in the technical write-up section. I still need to get the hardware for it so I might not be doing it right away. I overlooked that I needed different bolts for the job. Oops.

I haven't flushed/refilled the coolant system yet either, so I can't say if the Engine Ice will do as it's advertised. That'll probably come this weekend while I do all the suspension work.

07-01-2010, 07:23 PM
Im going to look for that thread right now, on the 6th gen control arms, I might do the same thing this weekend, suspension and coolant flush.... Im also going to post some new pictures....

07-06-2010, 09:38 AM
Updated parts list
Added suspension work post
Added suspension pics

Almost done with my current build!

01-05-2011, 03:57 PM
Where did you get the fabric spray at?

01-06-2011, 05:15 AM
Sorry for the lack of updates guys, I've been pretty busy with work and fighting wheel hub issues for the past few months. I never actually got around to flushing the radiator, or much else for the project, as I went back to PA for a few weeks immediately after the suspension was done. After I got back everything else seemed to kick into high gear except the build right up to when my wheel bearing shelled about 2 months ago. It's been down and stuck on-base ever since but hopefully I'll get it home soon after I pull the hub off my newly aquired All-trac.

Anyhoo; UtahSleeper, I got the fabric spray from Simply Spray (http://www.simplyspray.com/). It's a decent product but it still feels kinda tacky even after all this time. However in the instructions it says it works best if you spray, then rub the dye into the fabric with your hand (there are vids on the site). I forgot that step a few times and when I tried it seemed like it was sticking to my hand more than the fabric, so I just left it be. I'm sure if I had passengers more often it probably would have loosened up a bit though. For the headliner/rear seats/sunvisors I used about 9 cans (I got 10 for about $110 shipped to my door).

I would advise NOT using the Rustoleum vinyl/fabric spray as it makes everything like a wire brush, IMO it's best suited to just vinyl parts.

01-07-2011, 01:06 AM
Thanks. I ended up finding some of the fabric spray at hobby lobby. Going to try it on one of the seat covers for my Corolla. I detached it from the padding and I will spray it then wash it before reattaching. The older seat covers seem alot easier to remove then on newer cars so far. Hoping the wash will make it file like normal.

01-07-2011, 02:20 AM
Interesting on the fabric spray. I imagine you need to have those seats super clean before you can use the spray to the best of it's abilities. Ever think about renting a steamer from the grocery store? I'd love to see pics on how that turns out.

01-07-2011, 05:06 PM
Steam cleaner could be a good option. What made the most sense to me was removing the skin and washing it on hot in the washer. My car has 30 years of grime though.

01-07-2011, 06:06 PM
You might as well just use a wash in dye and soak them in it at that point. They work really well and never become tacky.

01-07-2011, 09:27 PM
I have been looking in to RIT, but not sure I have something that will hold the water needed as well as the seat covers. I will see how the spray dye works soon thought.

01-08-2011, 12:48 AM
As long as its RIT for synthetic fabrics, it should work great. I've been thinking about drip dyeing the top half of my seats to get rid of the gradient.

04-13-2011, 06:52 AM
It's been a while but made a few updates:

Parts: Updated pic of autobot accessories
Exterior mods: Added pics of Autobot logos installed
Groundwork: Updated with front and rear strut tower brace install

04-13-2011, 04:19 PM
the power mods look good, im not a fan of the body kit but thats just me. keep up the good work.

04-17-2011, 03:10 PM
That's a lot of work going on. Keep it up. I recently just got my project going again so I know what traveling and long projects does to your progress. We seem to be using similar project thread posting methods...I like it.


04-20-2011, 07:57 AM
Updated with my new rim/tire package. 17" Sport Edition CEs with Kuhmo Ecsta HPs courtesy of Tirerack.com

I'm glad you guys like my progress. I know the body kit is a like/don't like anymore but I left it on as we used rivets to install it. Maybe a little custom work can make it look a little better, if not somewhat functional.

Oh yea, found this in my tire sunday moring after I got home from work. Nothing like opening the car door and hearing a tire hissing. Only the tip of the nail was showing when I first pulled the wheel, what you see in the pic is after I deflated the tire and yanked on it with a pair of pliers. It never did come out the whole way, maybe I'll just cut it out to see what it is later.

Here's the reason behind the new rubber:

07-24-2018, 12:10 AM
I know it's been a looong time, but did the GT Styling roof spoiler ever get installed?