View Full Version : The Hatchback - 1988 GT

05-23-2011, 10:34 PM
I didn't tell anyone here, but my baby has been in the garage since December. The original plan was to show up to the dragon in a car everyone probably forgot I had, but my Mom got sick and all my money went to helping her. That's why I couldn't make it without splitting the cost with Seth this year. So my focus has now shifted to turning the hatch back into a drivable vehicle, instead of the mobile storage unit she's been for the last three years. I want to drive her again.

The History

The hatchback is the first Celica I ever owned, the reason that cars and this site now take up much of my life. Most of you don't know that I used to have no interest in cars. I didn't even get my license until about a week before my eighteenth birthday. I was the very type of person I loathe now, I was ignorant of the machine that got me from point a to b, and practically proud of it.

My first car was a '99 Saturn SL1 that my sister had bought new and transferred to me when she moved to Washington in the early 2000's. I pretty much destroyed that car with neglect. Though I loved the newfound freedom, I hadn't yet learned to respect what had given it to me.

Then on December sixth of 2002, the Saturn was totaled coming home from school. It was in downtown Denver, a driver in a full-size SUV decided he was going to turn left from the third lane. I was in the second lane from the left, which was left or straight. Not having time to react, I nailed the front end of the truck at 40mph. I went up on two wheels, coasting accross the entire six lane intersection, taking out a light pole on the way. The car dropped back down on the sidewalk, moments before I hit a tree. That's when the airbag deployed. Fortunately, I walked away with only one injury, powder burns on my wrists from said airbag. That aside, the car saved my life.

Everything was settled by late December, and my Mom came to me one day and said, "I found you a car, it's a Toyota Celica." We went to pick it up, and I fell in love instantly. All black, tinted windows, and it just looked awesome. That night I drove her to school. Since I had driven nothing but a Saturn 1.9 SOHC, the car seemed like the fastest thing in the world, even with a 3S-FE. I was enamored, suddenly I wanted to know everything about the machine I was sitting in. I learned the very basics, I taught myself to change the oil and do other very minor repairs like changing a flat, but with school there wasn't much time for more.

Then everything went to hell on the night of March 29th. A few friends and I drove up to Ft. Collins, the site of Colorado State University, to party. We had a blast, and made it back to the first friend's house without issue. But as I went to take the other friends home, smoke started pouring out of the heater vents. As the electrical shop showed me later(though I still wouldn't understand completely for a while), the previous owner had put a jumper wire in the headlight circuit. The lights shorted, and melted a large portion of my dash harness. The repair would be as much as we spent on the car, money we didn't have.

I was devastated. In only three months the car had become a part of me, and I couldn't face the thought of letting her go. I had to do something, so I learned. I picked up a Chilton manual from the library, and read. I parked the Celica outside my grandfather's house, and bought a '91 Mitsubishi Galant from a relative for $300 to get me to school. I called multiple junkyards in search of an uncut harness, and finally found one. For the next six months I spent what little time I had outside of class/homework pulling apart the interior and replacing the harness. Other than an oil change, that was the first real work I'd done on a vehicle.

I still remember vividly the day I started her back up for the first time, and everything worked. The joy was indescribable. I've never felt as content as when I drove her around the block. I recall thinking, this is MY car. The Saturn never really was, and the Galant, the only car bought with my own money, was no more then a temporary solution. I was home behind the hatchback's wheel.

The Now
Five years ago I bought my '89 coupe, which I pretty much brought back from the dead to be my daily driver so I could put less miles on the hatchback and restore her. Problem was I lived in an apartment until a year ago. I lent the hatchback to my girlfriend at the time for a few months three or four years ago, but other than that she sat parked on the side of the store I work at. I finally got her home last year, and into the garage last December. The last few years have been hard on the car though, and as much as I hate to admit it most of it was my fault.

It's time to get my car back again.

05-23-2011, 10:35 PM
This is the hatchback as she stands currently. Dusty, dirty, and unregistered, but still running. I'll gloss over what I've done the past few months, and what I still need to do.


So dusty!!! :(


The window I blew out. All of the old sealant and glass are cleaned off, I just need to put the new one in.


Rust spot I need to take care of on the passenger rocker panel. Other than the fenders, this is it for rust.


I've got everything for the GT-S brake swap lying in wait except for the wheels.


The beautiful driver's fender Seth found for me. I still need a passenger.


Early 5S external coil distributor swap is already complete and the timing's set.


The new window waiting to go in.


My aluminum radiator should arrive Wednesday, and installing it is my plan for my day off Thursday.

05-23-2011, 10:46 PM
Oh yeah, and she now has a Hayden transmission cooler hiding between the condenser and radiator.

05-23-2011, 11:43 PM
Cool, I know what it feels like having a car sit un-driven for what seems like forever!

05-24-2011, 01:32 AM
Cant wait to see her going. After all the dragon fun Im starting to get back on MudHoney, lots to do.

Whats the deal with the 5S dizzy? Whats to gain?

05-24-2011, 02:19 AM
The 3S-FE has an internal coil, and higher power options aren't available. So if you want to upgrade you need to convert to external. There is a method to modify the cap, but yeah... that results in melting. The cap arcs internally and everything goes to hell after a while. When the only option is a $50 cap and wire set, it gets old pretty quick.

To be honest there isn't any need to upgrade the ignition on a motor that redlines at 6k, but I wanted to see if I could. I've been screwing with the coupe's ignition off and on for years, and this swap is the best conclusion I've come to.

05-24-2011, 03:17 AM
Funny story.
When I was at PAP getting my GE engine for the swap, I didnt even think about the coil being external but happened to grab it from the trunk of the car beside me cause it said toyota on it
and I figured it would be usefull, had no clue it was the coil lol

Oh BTW. What you gona do with the stock wheels once you swap to 5 lug? I may be interested if shipping isnt to much and/or you dont want a whole lot

05-24-2011, 04:00 AM
Was planning on hanging them on the wall, but I'll think about it.

05-24-2011, 04:04 AM
I just need some cheap matching wheels till I can get a matched set of 17"s
If you dont wanna part its cool. Ima start watchin PAP for some

05-25-2011, 01:36 AM
Great read and love the car, even in pieces. My first Toyota made me expand my knowledge on cars to a whole new level for the same reason, to want to take care of her.

05-26-2011, 11:54 PM
Radiator arrived yesterday:


I tried to eat it earlier today:


Then I though it would be more useful installed:





I filled it and was going to bleed it, but some idiot left the battery hooked up again and it's dead. :sneaky: I think I'm gonna get a charger tomorrow, because I'm tired of hauling it to the store all the time.

05-27-2011, 12:08 AM
Where the hell are your cooling fans?


05-27-2011, 12:13 AM
Where the hell are your cooling fans?
Just made a post about that in the group buy thread. Holes don't quite line up correctly with the GT fan. It'll work but I need some shorter bolts for the top because I don't know what the hell I did with the originals. So I'll put it on later.

05-27-2011, 03:49 AM
looking good

05-27-2011, 04:21 PM
Chris, anything you need in red for this car....such as the interior.....I have.

05-30-2011, 09:40 PM
Alrighty, the to-do list. This was originally my Dragon trip checklist, but now it's to get back on the road, and some items aren't crucial:

Window - 50%
All old sealant and glass stripped, just need to install. Waiting until after I strip the rear, because that hole may be useful and give me less hunched-over inside the car time.

Clean Interior - 20%
So much crap from being a mobile storage unit for three years... This is honestly one of the most involved parts of this project, I hate that I let it happen.

Brake Conversion - 0%
All parts aquired except for steel lines and 5x100 wheels. Will probably wait until after the car is on the road.

Fenders - 25%
I'm counting finding both fenders as 50% because of how hard it is to find them unrusted at the bottom. I've got the driver side(thanks again Seth) but am still looking for the passenger. Once both are found I'll need to sand, paint, and install.

Tranny Cooler - 100% - DONE
Hayden high-performance transmission cooler installed.

Radiator - 100% - DONE
ASI aluminum ST165 radiator installed. Also new hoses and thermostat.

Gauge Cluster - 0%
I have the GT-S cluster waiting. I'm currently working on the face design. I'll also need to correct the mileage.

Hood Lifts - 0%
Going to put in pneumatic lift supports, and also install a switch & light. Will probably wait until back on the road.

A/C? - 0%
Would need new clutch/compressor assembly, as well as the R134a conversion. May ignore, since I won't be keeping the 3S-FE for long.

Grill Trim - 100% - DONE
Gray paint stripped on clear grill/headlight trim, replaced with a black-on-red motif.

Clean Engine Bay - 0%
So... Much... Dust... :(

Wheels/Tires - 0%
Style/size selected, waiting on funds to replenish. Will be done after car is on the road.

Front Lower Bumper Trim - 0%
Need to find one in decent condition. May require new bumper, mine's cracked.

Right Tail Lamp Assembly - 0%
Lens is cracked from a minor accident that happened before I got the car. I've got a pair of pre-facelift lenses, but I really like the late ones better. Keep forgetting to look when at the junkyard.

Quarter Panel Rust - 0%
Sand & paint, repair if necessary. Needs to be done soon to stop spreading, but may wait until car is on the road.

Coolant Flush - 0%
Coolant has been drained/refilled with radiator install, but she's due for a flush anyway. Taking this one to a buddy's shop.

Tranny Flush - 0%
May skip, was done before the car sat. Still deciding.

Oil Change
It's only been like 10 miles since the last one, but the four years between worries me, lol!

Title & Register
If we're being technical, my mother still owns the car. So we'll need to "sell" it to me and register.

05-30-2011, 09:42 PM
Chris, anything you need in red for this car....such as the interior.....I have.
I know man, I'm still kicking around what to do. In the coupe I kept the red dash, but made the center panel and console black. I may do the opposite with the hatchback.

05-30-2011, 11:46 PM
Some random Video...

*WW* on both because I cuss like a sailor.

Starting (http://crisco.celicatech.com/Hatchback/Video/2011-05-30_15-44-17_348.mpg)

Bleeding Coolant (http://crisco.celicatech.com/Hatchback/Video/2011-05-30_15-48-22_404.mpg)

05-31-2011, 12:09 AM
Installed the original fan today. What I ended up doing was widening the top hole further inside, and I had to do the same with the bottom. So all three bolts are in place.



I also had to add a few washers and use a longer bolt on the bottom, as expected. It seemed like it would dig into the radiator if I tightened the tab flush. Hopefully it doesn't hurt flow much. Sorry for the blur, hard to get auto focus that close with low light.


05-31-2011, 12:14 AM
Oh, and I need to re-adjust the TPS. The car started surging when I'd open the throttle very slightly and hold it. It would be fine when opened wider and at idle. So it's gotta be breaking that first connection a little late. I still don't think it's bad from doing it by eye originally though. :sneaky: :hehe:

Mr. Babb
05-31-2011, 03:30 AM
looking good bro :woot2:

05-31-2011, 05:19 AM
Chris. There are soooooo many parts that you listed that ARE ON THAT 4th gen I found up in Fort Collins. No BS dude. Go up there an have yourself a hayday. Seriously, the interior is freaking immaculate. I think the tail lights are even intact. I have no idea why it was in the yard in the first place.

And no worries on the fender. :)

06-09-2011, 09:26 PM
So, I just got Hook's port-matched intake manifold, and I'm thinking it'll go on the hatch for now.

The question is, polished or painted black? What I'm thinking is all black, while leaving the silver plate and red EFI lettering as they are.

06-09-2011, 09:39 PM
No, nevermind. I'm gonna save it until I rebuild the engine for the coupe. *smacks self for trying once again to do pain-in-the-ass work on a motor that will be removed in the future*

06-13-2011, 08:36 PM
Got off my ass and cleaned out the trunk today.


The pile of parts I took out:


How the fuck did I end up with so many partly used bottles of washer fluid? Did I not even check before I bought a new one? I wish I could remember.


The next step... :iorun: :ohnoes:


The really bad part is that the above piles weren't all that was in there. I'd already taken out a whole hatchback spoiler, coil springs, a box of harness wire, lens assemblies, interior parts, etc. There were about 10-15 random bottles/cans of oil, tranny fluid, and paint. I also filled a decent size trash bag. I did find a couple things I've been missing for a while though, that was nice.

06-14-2011, 05:50 AM
love the shifter on the auto....never did see that before.......just got done doing mine.


also an auto

06-14-2011, 08:12 AM
The deed is done.



The pile grew quite a bit(and yes, that's THREE MORE washer fluids, wtf?):


I finally found my shiny billet oil cap!


Of course that made the dust piss me off even more, so I got out the Purple Power and a rag and did a quick wipe-down of the painted surfaces, at least:


So now? I need a shop vac. Badly. Plus I've effectively covered the last bits of floor space in the garage. I need to build shelves...

I think once I get the window in I'm gonna back her out and wash her exterior. Still looking for the other fender, but they'll be freshly painted when they go on.

06-16-2011, 11:32 PM
Got the window in today:


Doggy kept trying to help:




I'm not putting the trim back on until I get some more silicone and fill the cracks. I ran out, and when you work at the parts store, you really hate going there on your day off. Still debating backing out and washing the exterior today.

06-17-2011, 04:08 PM
Wash her!!!! I did that recently and it made me happy to see my baby clean!

06-20-2011, 10:53 PM
Took her out and washed her today. Still not pretty, but cleaner:



Then the damn dog came in with muddy paws and jumped on the hood. I kicked him out and washed that area again. Then I decided to take the buffer and some Meguiar's Ultimate Compound to the hood to see what I'd be dealing with. Before:




Still needs work, especially all those tree sap spots I need to remove, but it should look fantastic when done. For now, the dog started whining and scratching the garage door so I came in for a while.

06-21-2011, 02:47 AM
Damn Chris, did you think they were going to stop making washer fluid??

06-21-2011, 02:59 AM
Damn Chris, did you think they were going to stop making washer fluid??
Lol, funny you mention that... About three years ago I got an email at work about how methanol prices were going up, and that we needed to be ready for the price of premium washer fluids to go up significantly. So I bought a case, six gallons, before it went up. I put it in the front passenger seat of the hatchback, taking a gallon when myself or Mom needed one.

The sad part? Not one of those gallons were included in what I pulled from the car last week! So the previous accumulation had been happening for like three years prior to that.

08-05-2011, 12:49 AM
Houston, we have fenders!

The local PAP hasn't had a new fourth gen for months, they added one Monday and this was my first day off since then. They're rusty but only on the surface, everything is intact. It should clean right off. Even though I have a driver side I bought both. Gonna use a friend's sandblaster, but he's taking a trip to Alaska and it might be a while. There's a body shop behind my store and I know the owner, I might ask what he'd strip and paint them for.

10-07-2011, 08:32 PM

Well, there goes that $40. Didn't think it was that bad.

10-07-2011, 08:34 PM
Looks like you need a pair of black front fenders.

10-13-2011, 04:20 AM
Finally got my gauge faces perfected. The solution turned out to be a three layer setup. Backlight film for the top layer, a blank sheet of transparency film for rigidity in the center, printed transparency film on the bottom. Either film used alone causes issues.

Problem 1: Transparency film only
At night the transparencies work perfectly, only allowing light through the color areas, not the black. In daylight however, the glare is ridiculous. The gauges wash out almost completely. You're constantly tilting your head to find an angle that gives you a faint glimpse of where the needle is.

Problem 2: Backlight film only
In daylight the backlight film works great, the printed side is matte and you get a great deal less light reflection. But at night, since the film is translucent, all areas light up, including the black. This makes the marks blend in to the background, and they become more difficult to see.

Example(the large faces are corrected, the small are not):

And the final result with the three layer process:


10-13-2011, 04:41 AM
That sucks ass that the fender actually was rusted. I think that pisses me off more than it does you.

10-13-2011, 04:47 AM
That sucks ass that the fender actually was rusted. I think that pisses me off more than it does you.
That's the one I got, the red one you got me is okay.

10-13-2011, 03:52 PM
Wanna make me some gauge faces? Lol.

Not sure how that'll work though cuz I have my boost gauge in the center of mine instead of a temp gauge.

I still have them fenders....hell i have the whole f*ing car.

10-13-2011, 04:18 PM
Wanna make me some gauge faces? Lol.

Not sure how that'll work though cuz I have my boost gauge in the center of mine instead of a temp gauge.

I still have them fenders....hell i have the whole f*ing car.
I'd need the faces to scan in. All I've got are the ST/GT and GT-S(150mph speedo) faces. I've got no clue how it would work with aftermarket ones though. I'd need one to test. But AIRC my iEquus gauges couldn't be taken apart without destroying them.

I do want the fenders, but I need to play catch-up with my money for at least a month or two. I'm going to be mostly commission now, so I'm pretty sure my checks will suck until mid December.

10-13-2011, 04:25 PM
Ewwww I hate commission.

The '89 is a GTS. I'll have to rip the cluster out & do it all over again (needles, etc). The boost gauge though was a bit of a headache though lol.

10-13-2011, 05:03 PM
Ewwww I hate commission.
Me too, but this is based on department sales, not individual. I get $800/month base pay, and 3% of what the parts department makes. They've consistently done $49k for the last nine months. Even if it drops to $40k over the winter I'll still be making $200 more after taxes than I made with O'Reilly. At $49k it's $400 more. So I'm happy with it. :)

10-14-2011, 03:05 AM
Hey man, those there guages look sweet.
I'm excited to see the final product, so you had better keep at it there man.