Reimagining An ’80s Celica
I Want To See More Of This

What is it that grabs your attention? In my continuous hunt of cool and innovative cars to feature here in Japan, this is something that has always changed. Like styles, fads and general fashion, there is a lot that can make you notice a car. But one thing that I’ve always craved to see more of in this country, is attention to detail. This is something I see plenty of in Japan’s hot rod and custom scenes, but when it comes to JDM sports cars built for any discipline, it’s always lacking.


But thanks to guys like Satoshi Nakatogawa, that may have started to change. Satoshi runs S&A Auto-Create, and he and his team are the guys responsible for some of the coolest engine bays I’ve seen at shows like Offset Kings and StanceNation this year. Shaving bays and tucking wires is nothing new in most developed car cultures around the world, but it is here in Japan where aesthetics have never really had as much importance placed on them. I’m totally for function over pretty much anything else form related, but as time goes by I’m personally beginning to appreciate the fusion of these two schools of thought. As long as function is held as the most important factor, what’s the problem with making other areas of a car more pleasing to the eye?


So I took it upon myself to stop by Satoshi’s garage in Kanazawa and have a chat to him about his style and how he’s come to take this path over the usual bolt-on JDM approach to tuning. I’ll dive into more detail about this when I give you a tour of S&A Auto-Create, because right now I want to concentrate on a build the shop has just completed.


Call it the perfect example of the point I’m trying to make. It’s an older Japanese car which its owner has possessed for a long time, and because he’s not planning on getting rid of it any time soon, numerous modifications have been made to improve the way it drives and looks, all the while retaining its ’80s visual appeal.


The car in question is a 1984 GA61 Toyota Celica XX, or to the rest of the world, a MkII Supra. It’s just been through a complete refresh, which on top of a pure white paint job extended to the fitting of USDM fender flares.


It’s looks as new as the day it rolled out of the Toyota factory more than 30 years ago, and that’s all thanks to an uncompromising attention to detail – and a bunch of modern day performance upgrades. Starting with the suspension, Satoshi built up a set of custom adjustable coilovers for the Celica, not only to give it a functional ride height for a daily driven car, but for the dynamic feel that modern dampers can deliver.


The braking system has been upgraded too and now centers on Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII 4-pot callipers and cross-drilled rotors at the front.


The big stoppers hide behind 17×8-inch Barramundi Design Eleven 2-piece wheels shod in Bridgestone’s newest Potenza RE-71R high performance rubber.


I love how the ride height has been raised sightly at the rear to emphasise the GA61’s wedge-like design.


The USDM Supra overfenders are a great a addition too, as the car looks far too narrow in its JDM iteration. The rear wheels are slightly wider and run the older Potenza RE-11 tyres, which I know from first-hand experience are impressively grippy, having served me well over the years as my 19-inch setup for Project GT-R. Here, 17×9-inch rims run a +2 offset, but to really fill the rear flares out properly 25mm spacers were needed.


There’s an Evo VII Brembo conversion at the rear too; 2-pot callipers custom-painted in gunmetal grey, and again fitted over drilled rotors.


I couldn’t help but turn the lights on for a few shots; I’m a true lover of pop-up headlights and rate them as one of the coolest automotive styles to come out of the ’70s and ’80s. As you can see, the main beams have been well and truly upgraded too. A modern HID conversion ensures the old school look doesn’t necessarily imply an old school lack of light.


The Celica was practically finished the same morning of my visit and was just awaiting a trip to the local shaken center to be re-registered and fitted with a fresh pair of licence plates. Luckily, S&A Auto-Create had prepared some temporary ‘slash’ plates, which meant we could legally take the car out on the road. Those who know these cars have probably spotted the USDM roof spoiler already – another one of those small additions that help make this car even more unique on the roads of Japan.


One final USDM addition are red side markers replacing the black plastic trim pieces found on JDM models.

A New Heart For More Performance

There’s no way anyone could fault the execution of the exterior; it’s all been done tastefully to highlight the car’s aggressive stock look. With the right sort of stance and a well chosen set of wheels, there is not much else this car really needs.


But that thinking only applies until you lift the bonnet up on its gas struts…


Blasphemy? Insulting? Who the hell cares! If you get your panties in a twist when seeing cross-brand engine swaps, you aren’t living life to its fullest if you ask me. I find it all rather comical and totally warranted, as there is no arguing the benefits any well-chosen performance engine brings to a properly resto-modded car. Would it have been better to find a 2JZ dropped in the place of this Honda F20C? Of course not, that would be bordering on boring given the large numbers of those conversions. The choice of VTEC power-plant here was more down to bumping performance through a proven modern setup and keeping it all very reliable. So by ditching the Celica’s original six-cylinder 1G motor, there’s now an extra 70hp or so to play with.


Satoshi explained that despite the S2000 engine and its corresponding 6-speed transmission being slightly smaller in size, it all ended up weighing about the same as the original 1G and its gearbox once everything needed for the swap was fitted. With the Honda motor and ‘box a little more compact however, fitting the combo slightly further back in the chassis has had a positive effect on how the car handles and feels through the steering wheel. Along with the engine, a large HPI radiator was also fitted.


The massive gap that the smaller four-cylinder engine has opened up makes the entire bay look far more minimalistic than it ever was when stock. Satoshi even closed up the underside with a carbon cover to help smooth the air flow under the car and make things a lot more presentable.


As the S&A Auto-Create guys do with many of their projects, the Celica’s bay was also treated to shaving and wire tucking to really clean it up. Satoshi told me that a massive number of man hours go into creating a look like this, especially when you’re after a paint finish as good as the exterior.


One of Satoshi’s specialities when it comes to fabricating is exhaust manifolds, so it came as no surprise to hear that he built the custom header for this project.


The header runs into a valved stainless steel system, which when closed to its quietest position does a really good job of silencing the barking Honda engine.

This short video should hopefully give you a little more feel for what the car sounds like, and how it appears inside and out.


So there you have it – simple and to the point. But that’s what you may think before you take a look at the Celica’s interior…

The Personal Touch

The resto-modding continues into the cabin with the stock seats having been retained, but stripped of their cheap ’80s vinyl and custom re-trimmed in soft leather. That goes for the door panels too, as well as the surrounding area of the instrument binnacle.


Simplicity has, however, been sacrificed a little to satisfy the owner’s love of gadgetry. There’s quite a lot of stuff happening in and around the dashboard and center console with auxiliary Defi gauges positioned inside the glove box, and a roof-mounted switch panel where the engine’s start/stop button is located. In fact, there are so many buttons and toggle switches that even Satoshi doesn’t even know what they all do! He did, however, show me the red and white push buttons on the center stack – the red giving two very short honks of the horn and the white one blinking the hazards three times. They’re the ‘polite’ buttons if you will, as in Japan you give two honks to let people through in a junction or merging situation, while the hazards are a secondary thanking procedure when someone lets you through.


The Celica is also fitted with the latest Pioneer Carrozzeria navigation system which has a roof-mounted, flip-down screen onto which directions are projected. So very Japanese!


To get the engine swap working perfectly, the S2000’s instrumentation, entire wiring loom and ECU were carried over from the donor car. The dash cluster is beautifully integrated inside the Celica’s instrument binnacle and even displays the engine’s original mileage.


Having ridden in the car for a while, I have to say I was very impressed by the suppleness and outright comfort of these soft leather seats. They certainly got some things right in the ’80s as modern day seats tend to be on the overly firm side.


There’s plenty of lateral support too, and just a few mechanical adjustments are required to find the perfect seating position.


In the back the rear bench has been re-trimmed with the same leather design.


It doesn’t really matter where you look, the attention to detail and quality of execution is evident right throughout this build.


It’s an inspiring thing to see too. In a market where domestic manufacturers have cut down on providing fun and exciting cars for the masses, this is what enthusiasts are starting to do.


I seriously hope that what we’ve seen with this Celica is going to become a trend in Japan, as in my opinion it’s where people should be going with their long-term project cars. But what about you – if you had the chance, what kind of car would you choose to resto-mod in a similar way? Would you engine swap it? And what other touches would you add to it, to make it your own?

Next up from S&A Auto-Create is a full feature on the Lancer Evo VI Tommi Mäkinen Edition I spotlighted last month. That’s a car that takes what we have seen here and does it in an even more performance oriented way. Stay tuned for that!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino

S&A Auto-Create 1984 Toyota Celica XX

Honda F20C 2.0L DOHC VTEC inline-four (S2000), HPI radiator, S&A Auto-Create custom headers, S&A Auto-Create stainless steel exhaust system, S2000 ECU, S&A Auto-Create custom carbon under cover

Honda S2000 clutch/flywheel/6-speed transmission, S&A Auto-Create custom propeller shaft, TRD 2-way LSD

S&A Auto-Create custom 1-way adjustable coilovers, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII Brembo 4-pot (front) & 2-pot (rear) callipers, cross-drilled rotors (front/rear)

Barramundi Design Eleven 17×8-inch +15 (front), 17×9-inch +2 (rear), 25mm rear spacers, Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R 235/40R17 (front), Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 245/40R17 (rear)

USDM overfenders, USDM roof spoiler, USDM side marker, custom white paint

Custom leather re-trim, Personal steering wheel, TRD horn button, S2000 dash meter custom fitted in stock binnacle, custom roof-mounted engine start/stop switch plus switch panel, S2000 shift knob, Pioneer Carrozzeria navigation system with projection screen, Defi gauges (oil temp, oil press, water temp), Defi Control Unit II, custom switches for double horn and triple hazard, OEM Toyota Celica XX carpets, custom integrated ETC card reader

More Toyota related stories on Speedhunters
S&A Auto-Create



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The F20C is the perfect engine for that little Celica! Props to the builders.


really love resto-modding. it like giving a new life to classic vehicles. if I've given a chance, I would like to resto-mod some old Alfa Romeos, especially the GTV6. if possible, the new Alfa-Maserati V6 would be the engine of my choice, with updated drivetrain/brakes and fit it with Alfa Montreal Autodelta-like overfenders.


Video/recording of how the car sounds on a car feature article? That's what i've been waiting for! Good job Dino, as always.


Looking forward to the Mak!


Looks like a motorcycle engine in that engine bay...


No this is a car worth showcasing...


Hmmm... I would do something a little more radical and swap a BMW engine into an ae86 Corolla. Perhaps an S14 e30 engine from the same period... Turbo charged... Oh yea, hahaha. I would restore everything to the Corolla's original condition-- inside and out, upgrade the suspension, brakes... and throw on some AC Schnitzer type 1 wheels. Mayyyyybe Work Equips. But probably Schnitzers. 

If only I had the money... :(


Oh yes.


Dino, thanks for bringing us this sweet Celica! 
I was thoroughly interested and impressed...(even got past the "re-imagined" phrase as I was expected Singer-quality stuff) and then I saw the engine swap.

Yes, I am that about to be "that guy" now

I am not going to rationalize the F20 into this chassis, but I'd like to hear from others too. I always thought one swaps a powerful motor from a heavy chassis into a lighter one. 

And then I read this:

" So by ditching the Celica’s original six-cylinder 5M motor, there’s now an extra 70hp or so to play with."

IIRC the F20 makes ~240hp/150tq...while the 5M makes ~175hp/170tq.  A higher revving/hp engine into a heavier car that needs more torque, not less

Makes sense to me!

Love the BMD wheels!


Great article, but that video...? Where's the 9000RPM at! ?


@SW1 I was doing some thinking.. And in this case, I believe it's a matter of overall weight savings to engine performance. I'm not an engineer, but I figure the benefit here is that the Celica is getting more hp and 20 less ft/lbs of torque with 2 less cylinders-- which means smaller block, smaller heads, and an overall smaller package, with better overall performance... And a shaved/tucked engine bay (perhaps a little more weight savings) 

Also, judging from the pictures alone, the Celica is a 2-door, perhaps not THAT much bigger than the s2k. So, maybe there isn't much loss in performance with 20 ft/lbs less of torque...

Figured I would take a shot at your invitation haha. My 2 cents.


This is sweet, shame they've all but rusted away over here.


@SW1 I agree. I'm sure the f20 is faster, but I would bet it feels slower in daily driving because it makes peak Hp (and tq) at such a high rpm, where the 5M probably made peak tq at 3500 and peak hp at 5500 or so? This especially confuses me because the engine swap didn't net any weight loss which would have been the only factor which would have made it make a little more sense, at least to me...

I would have done a more modern, but similar engine. s52 or even s54? Or maybe a VQ35 if you wanted to stay Japanese... I would have to think this car feels pretty stressed for power below 4k rpm.


@SW1 5mge= 160 hp 6mge=190 hp


Nice celica. Don't see many out now a days. This where the supra started. To bad the car itself hasn't been embraced much in the car world. Great post!


That speedometer is perfectly match with this Supra.


This car is soo cool. Reminds me of the Starlet you guys featured a couple weeks ago ;)


This car ticks all of my buttons. that nav unit is probably one of the coolest pieces of kit I've ever seen on the ICE end of things. Then you add the roof-mounted switches and stuff and you have an interior that I want for my car. and it's in something as freakin' gorgeous yet simple as this car, with an unusual engine swap to boot? Perfection.


To be honest, that engine looks a bit lost in there.


kayjaypug205  haha, it does, but think of all the stuff you could do with that room, if you start wishing for more power!


This car came with a 1gge, a 2 liter straight 6 without a ton of torque. That's where the G in ga61 comes from.


@McMaster Right, no real weight savings... Not sure how I missed that part in Dino's words. Ha... I suppose the swap really was for the sake of doing something different.


For some reason I just like, well done to the inventor !!!
That navigation thing is out of this world lol.. So need one for shits and giggles


to answer your question Dino, I'm approx 2 weeks from finishing my semi-restoration project: A '91 Honda Prelude, with pop-up headlights of course! Going for an ae86 style black on white combo with some retro four spoke work equip 01 reps.

keeping the stock lump and autobox for now as it's gonna be my daily and allow the S2000 to be kept for special occasions, plus the retro gear shifter is like something out of the last Starfighter!

it can be tricky to find parts for older disappearing cars, but the rarity makes it worth it.

great article btw, maybe one day I can get the lude into the spotlight.


I'm actually a lil shocked this didn't have a Toyota 2AR in it....


I've always preferred this design over the Mk. IV because I like facets and creases.

Drop in a 1JZ turbo and it'd be perfect.


LOVED it! Despite my continuous struggle to accept cars swapped with motors from another brand.
PS: That Eclipse in the last pic though...


That engine choice was a bit of a curve ball. I thought MAYBE a 1/2J swap, definitely didnt think about a F20 at all.


cjopant that's really nice without going nuts


billibean ya, perfect street car basically. weird engine choice tho


Speedhunters Honda? No no no no


cjopant yeah I was expecting some 1jz or whatever since I think it basically drops in


Personally I won't drop in an F20C but aside from that, I love everything about it!


If you get your panties in a twist when seeing cross-brand engine swaps, THEN WHY ARE YOU HERE?


An S2K and an A61 Celicasupra are about the same weight, both circa 1,250kg.


Speedhunters Testanera777 これは僕に作れってことですかねぇ、、、


I wonder if the rear rubs


Guy must have alot of money to waste. You see when it comes to registering cars. The bigger they are the more money. Also the older too. You replace the engine with a smaller one but the car is the car. Its old and the size it huge to the cost is up there. Japanese taxes are no joke.


PhatRainbows at first i was like why honda? why vtec? and i was like yes, why wouldnt someone do such thing, and also it isnt that bad of a swap


ryukyustriker Well, if you do these types of things over a large amount of time........Then you don't need to have a lot of money all at once, all you need is a job.


GarageWoolery If you go into presentation mode and look at the picture with the rear tires there are no channels in the sidewall.


Speedhunters 今でも欲しいダブルエックス


DriftingMindz_JP my thoughts exactly on the eclipse!


That engine bay!


What an amazing build!
I do find it rather surprising to hear there were no weight savings going to the 4 cylinder. I'd imagine the handling benefits of having almost no weight in front of the crossmember would be more than enough reason though. Would love to take this for a blast up the mountains with all that extra turn-in. The carbon under-tray is also a lovely aesthetic touch, as not only does it provide a small performance benefit, it also means when you look under the hood you don't see a bunch of dirty filthy road in front of that lovely engine.

I should point out that this car would've left the factory with a 1G-GE engine, not the 5M as mentioned in the article (unless this was a particularly rare 2800GT). I will also point out that the over-fenders and roof spoiler were also standard items for the AUDM models ;) I'm also fairly certain that those are USDM tail lights to go along with the red vent reflectors.
The interior absolutely blows my mind. I can see why the owner went with the multitude of switches and button's. These cars kind of feel like a spaceship even in stock form, with the pop-up headlights and the factory digital dash, so adding in more does really fit the mood of the car. That nav system is straight out of Star Wars!! SO cool.

thanks so much for sharing this beautiful car!


What if that car is a TRANSFORMER?


Isn't the s2k motor one of the highest hp/liter ever? Not that his decision needs to be validated but it's a special engine. Also didn't expect it to sound so deep and throaty. very good.


bluestreaksti it was the highest HP/litre (Specific Power Output) at the time I believe. Doubt it's still the case though.


"So by ditching the Celica’s original six-cylinder 5M motor".... if it is truly a GA61, as stated in article, it wouldn't have had a 5M it would have had a 1G... not sure how much you boys know about Toyotas, but yeah I caught that right off the bat.... Great pictures, but please try to do your homework a little better.


For a production naturally aspirated piston engine, yes. It has since been beaten by Ferrari and Porsche, but only just. Incredible engine.


F20C + 6MT weights the same as the 5M + 5MT ?
I wonder if F20C is extremely heavy , or 5M was so lightweight ? XD




TanyaR You are right, my bad. I edited it


That Eclipse though in the last pic!


Very nice car... but i walways get super exited when i get a glimpse of Dinos R34 :D


Looks like a fun cabin to be in.


billibean cjopant No it doens't. You need custum everything. Engines from the m serie basically drop in, like the 7mgte.


To be honest I was actually happy when I read this article, I was fully expecting a 2JZ swap but then up pops this four banger. Really really impressed with this build.


more pics of the grey 90? or maybe 100 cresta in the first pic please :)


RDS I'd imagine the 6 speed box would be a lot heavier than a 1G spec W-series 5 speed, and the F20C probably isn't a lot lighter than the 1G, there you end up.


Such a clean and quality build, that's what I like most!


He went through a lot to make it look American why not throw "Supra" on the hatch too?! That hatch looks so lonely.


So, is this photographer 2 feet tall? Almost every shot is from about most people's knee level. Makes for dramatic photos but not so hot for getting a true sense of the car.


Here's my MA61, still has the stock 5mge but I am planning on swapping in either a v6 or v8 just for better balance. It has Stance coilovers, fronts are 16x8.5 and rears are 16x9.5 +0 offsets. I am dying to get my hands on a pair of JDM tail lights, the smoked look makes it such a clean addition to the overall look of the car. I am totally in love with Satoshi's car. This is how every sports car should look, hell of a car!


This Celica is stunning! Very cool.


Beautiful white supra/celica...
Slow golf clap...


@Uriel very sharp!


Barramundi Design Eleven 2-piece wheels damn near make any car look good, even this cheese wedge.


Interesting car. I did the opposite. Put a bigger engine in the smaller Celica bay.


speedhunters_dino TanyaR thankies! Got a bit confusing there for a bit, was wondering why a F20 was weighing the same as a 400+lb 5MGE lol


yotafan sweet Celly, takes me back to my childhood. My mom had a black one that we kept for a while til my bro got into an accident in it.




Wires Any place I can follow your build?
(is yours the white and black lude on instagram with the blue engine bay?)


It's everything I love about my Prelude but more. More angular, more grip, more brakes, more RWD. I am drooling over this thing.


@Uriel What kida wheels are those? And what about the front lip?


Here is my baby.. Hopefully when the 2JZ build is all done you guys will get to see it up here..


why would it have a rav 4 engine?


Token Blk Guy Nice paint.


It was 1G ? Which 1G btw ? 1G-GTE ?



Google'd ,
F20C is 148kg
F20C + 6MT + electronics (wire & ECU) is 209kg
Some source say the 6MT is about 45-50kg
Google show W58 is somewhat 90 lbs to 110 lbs .
I found 1G-FE weights 176.65kg , and 1G-GTE weights 385 lbs .


what a waste..... putting that useless anemic honduh crap in a Classic performance car. ugh!


love this car.


Fantasy engine swap is my favourite game Dino! This might be a little bit oddball but I've always wanted to build an MGB GT (hardtop) with a reliable and moderately powerful Japanese 4 cylinder,  TE37V's, Brides, craft square mirrors. Kind of a British classic JDM mash up. The actual engine of choice changes around a little but I had been thinking SR20VE with some nice ITB's would fit the bill...
Wifey won't let me play for the moment though so it'll have to stay a fantasy for the time being! lol


the car was very good 
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