Guest Blog: Ying Hua>>a Starlet Gt From Down Under

Hi Speedhunters! My name is Ying and this is the tale of my 1990 Toyota Starlet GT EP82 from Melbourne, Australia.

My story begins late one night in 2004 on an almost empty freeway. I saw some headlights approaching incredibly fast. As it flew by, I caught a glimpse of the two letters that would shape the next few years of my life. A glowing “GT” badge fixed in the middle of the tailgate. I drove back home intrigued. What the hell was that?

A few hours later, I discovered this little car was called a Starlet GT. The car weighed 830kg and was powered by a 1.3 litre turbo engine. Huh, starlets come in turbo models?

Whilst there is a small turbo starlet community in Australia they aren’t a common sight on Melbourne roads.

Having never driven one, sat in one, or known anyone that had owned one, I decided to buy one.

A few months later, a stock GT from Queensland (read: the other side of Australia) popped up for sale. The car was test driven by a friend there who gave it the thumbs up. It arrived on the back of a truck a week later.

The car was showing its age and quite rough around the edges but I instantly fell in love with it. It never missed a beat, was hilarious to drive and fantastic on fuel!

2 years passed and in 2006, a new kid showed up at work. He explained to me how he took his Supra to the track and how easy it was to take a street car to the circuit. On my birthday he presented me a brand new 4 point harness and said, “Now you MUST go to the track.”

And to the track I went!

The day ended abruptly with the one question I didn’t want to know the answer to.

“Hey…what’s that knocking sound coming from the engine?”

And thus, concluded my first track day. From then on the GT would affectionately come to be referred to as the “Tartlet” due to the random collection of parts from Toyota’s, Subaru’s and Mazda’s which had found their way on to the car. 

I bought another GT as a donor car and a new engine went in courtesy of my boyfriend Dan who also conveniently doubles as my mechanic!

Track day rolled around again. From my own observations, I had come to a conclusion. There are certain drivers that are racing prodigies. The drivers that were born to drive and are at one with the car. At the other end of the scale, there are those that have no natural talent whatsoever and must put blood, sweat and tears into learning how to become a slightly better driver. As I sat in the middle of the field, covered in dirt and miles away from the corner I should've taken a bit slower, I realised that I was one of those people that fell into the second category.

More track days came and went. Upon each return to the track, I slowly but steadily I chipped away at my time. DIY mods were met with either massive success or epic failure. Notably my first track day attempt on semi slicks saw me rolling back into the pits after the warm up session in a cloud of smoke. I had blown the turbo.

Overcome with irrational heart ache, I sat in the boot of my car. Questions flooded my mind. Was this car just not meant to be the track warrior I had hoped it would be? Why did it keep breaking? Was it too old? Should I just give up and buy a newer more reliable car?

I loved this car, and knew it was capable of great things. I still had some unfinished business. The tartlet had more to give and the only thing holding it back was me.

So the turbo was replaced with another stock CT9 and was back on the road and track in no time.

By now the car was starting to look quite bad with the clear coat peeling all over. As I was too cheap to pay for a proper respray, I visited the local Bunnings and came back with some supplies.

With the car now looking ghetto fabulous it was time to give the tart a bit more poke. This problem was solved by upgrading the turbo with a td04. Whilst not a terribly impressive set up compared to other performance cars, the WRX turbo combined with a light weight car was everything I ever wanted.

In this process I also managed to pick up my third starlet. A friend commented that it was like a pokemon story line. “Gotta catch em’ all!”

Many track days later and 5 years since the tartlet and I had met, I decided it was time to spice the relationship up. Perhaps, a new challenge was in order?  That challenge would come in the form of a 9 hour interstate drive to Wakefield circuit in NSW to attend a track day.

We arrived at the petrol station on Friday night before the track day. 9 hours on the road and we were finally there! I went inside to use the rest room and came back out to be greeted by a pool of green coolant vomiting out onto the ground. The water pump seal had blown.

The car was cautiously driven back to our accommodation about 10 mins away. The leaking had stopped so it looked like the car was going to make it back to Melbourne but this meant that I had to sit the track day out. I was gutted.

My head told me not to track. My heart said to do it.

I called up a friend who told me: "Either way, you're going to be upset right? So which option makes you the least upset?"

Dammit, I'm here to track. Let’s give it a shot!

As expected, the car died courageously half way through the day. There is no question as to what killed the car. Cylinders 1, 2, 3 and 4 were full of water!

At least it will be a good story to tell when I’m older – or perhaps for a Speedhunters readers month blog. Haha.

To be honest, I'm more annoyed the car didn't last long enough for me to post a faster lap time!

I have met some of the kindest people and my best friends with this car. Oh what a feeling!

Shoutouts to: Dan, Exe-Crew (, Au starlet club (
Photos courtesy of: Kam, Drew, Mugsee and Silas (
My blog on the Melbourne car scene: (

- Ying



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest



Fantastic story. Thanks for sharing!


Cool write up, and cool car...i bet its a blast to drive :)


So have you kept the tartlet or is that the end? Really nice story. I think one of the best of reader month so far!


admire the enthusiasm!!! love the story!!!

pocket rockets are always fun and it's great seeing pictures of it at the track :)

keep up the good work!


mad to see the little starlet's on speedhunters.. spesh an aussie one. well written story with it too..!

fairly sure i've met you before btw. spoke to you at a bobjane in FTG..? ..i had that red aw11. :)


kool story

nice car


Ah great too see a Starlet Gt Turbo on here. Greatly underestimated cars! Love the whole story as well. I have one question though, why did you pick the TD04 in stead of for example a CT9 Hybrid? I'd think the Hybrid would suit the track better, because it's more responsive and spools a lot quicker? Or were you making a lot of power with the TD04?


Great Story, Neat car! Plus it looks like a lot of fun to drive. If you keep chipping away, you will become a better driver. At least you are trying to get better, which is more then I can say for all these yuppies in fast car and no talent (natural or earned).


does anyone know the purpose of the pieces of tape crossed over each other on the headlights?


Tape is there so that if it smashes it doesnt shower the track in glass and stays together. japanese have this as a compulsary rule when you go on the track.


Hi guys!

Thanks for the kind words.

Josh: I could never get rid of the starlet. I have a ridiculous emotional attatchment to it now haha. I just picked up an MX5 as my new track car while the starlet takes a break.

RdS: Yup that was me at bob jane haha. aw11 ftw!

MichelM: The ct9 would definately spool faster. The td04 doesn't hit boost until 4k. On the street it's a bit annoying but on the track where you're higher up in the rev range I'm glad I went with the td04. Also the td04 came attached to the white starlet I bought :P

Alberto: I think back in the day it was in case you smashed your headlights the tape would hold them in one piece. On that day, we had to wait until the afternoon to get some track time. It was just a result of lots of race tape lying around and boredom. :P


Great right up there! I have to say I have seen this car in the flesh and both the driver and the car have come a long way since the beginning. Keep up the good work Ying and persistence pays off. 8-)


Nice story man! really enjoyed it :) Nice little car aswell, must be great fun to drive!


Ah i was there at that Wakefield track day, and remember having to dodgy around the stricken Starlet after it died coming onto the main straight. The poor thing!


Great read!!

Car was looking strong on that day at Wakey....pitty the car decided to shitself!

Although next time bring the MX5 so we can have a NA VS EA11R Battle!


Great story Ying!


Whay a great story!

So what has become of the "Tartlet" since the track day?


cool and rare! i never thought that starlet GT is this superb.


I'm not a fan of the Starlet but that was a great write up, well done!


This is a great story. It made me smile and laugh all the way through. Reminds me of what us normal car people go through every other week or month lol.

GT starlets used to be all the rage in my country (Barbados) but most of them have been written off it seems.


Great story! great read!...keep running, it will make you a faster driver.


Well well well... yingstar!

I must say everyone who's reading this. you have no idea the impression it gives you around the track.

I'm a big silvia guy, plenty of rwd cars, maily drift cars. However i've recentely been tempted into grip racing by Ying herself. To do this, she took me out for a ride around winton in her car. OMG this car grips up so well and the turn in is amazing.

At one point i'm thinking, yep here we go time to spin, but it kept turning in!

Well done on the car ying, oh and by the way i've got a 44mm tial external gate i'm selling. haha its got starlet's name written all over it haha.. sorry couldnt resist :P


Oh I remember this car now. It used to be green right :P

Mad props to you for putting this up for car lovers in the world to read about.

I'm sure there is still plenty more road for this little car to tear up, plus you still owe me a fast lap in it.

Thanks to everyone for their support on and off the track, this car has helped build my tolerance for turbo cars.

Big ups to Ying for loving the car so much and giving it a bootful every time it hits the track to raise more than a few eyebrows.

what else can i say about this little box of fun?

bloody turbo cars! :P


great blog - great insight into how people do get to where they want car wise - a true enthusiasts tale -i'm starting to see quite a few of these little pocket rockets now - roaring all over the place, spotted a couple of tasteful examples.. not tough as this though - nice one!! are they called Glanza in some places{?} still i love the one!!


Thanks again guys! The tart is alive again now running on engine #3. The plan is to eventually turn the starlet into a dedicated track car when funds permit. I've since bought an mx5 to use as a daily/backup track car so we'll see how that goes!

rupewrecht: Sorry if i held you up at all!

Will: A little part of me still cries for buying a 5 instead of a cappa haha.

Bigjoe: I've seen some CRAZY ep82's hailing from Barbados. They go all out on their builds there!

BENRYS: Thanks dude! If I inspire you to grip, maybe you can inspire me to drift...or gate!

Dan: You must be thinking of another car, this was never green...:P

NuggetG60YorkshireUK: Turbo starlets seem to be plentiful in the UK! The Glanza refers to later ep91 shape. :)




I LOVE these cars aswell.

Got a starlet GT Turbo too, Only it's a converted from a stock 1.3 XLi to a 1.3 turbo GT.

Lovely story wrote down!


Awesome read Ying!

I look forward to the new adventures of the MX5...not that I am biased!

Team RED Mazda for the win.


Awesome it's always great to see cars not being stored away in garage. I also really admire girls who go out and do what you did. Keep up the good work, and keep us updated, now that you have that MX-5, let's see some more tracking ahah.


Here in seychelles there plenty of these pocket rocket rides...will if i can start posting some nice ones on my site soon as i can.very nice right,those td04 setup are surely fast indeed.


Great write up and even greater story ... keep it up! Can't wait to hear more about it. Are you on jdmst forums?


Mark: Yeah i'm on jdmst. Just a lurker, I hardly post there. :)