From the Land of the Rising Sun to the Land of the Long White Cloud and back again, this MA61 Toyota Celica Supra has come a long way.
You’ve probably already twigged that it’s also a long way from stock. Did the colour give it away, or was it perhaps the huge supercharger rising through the bonnet like Odin atop a battle horse?
Before we get stuck into the details of this globetrotting Toyota, let’s start at the very beginning with owner Ewan Paterson’s habit of stuffing big engines into small places.
As I looked around Stacked Exports, Inc., Ewan’s export company in Osaka, he filled me in on the Celica Supra’s backstory.
Ewan bought his first Celica in 1996, a TA63, which became a bit of guinea pig for things to come. Ewan bought the car at a police auction where it had been confiscated from his friend. He rebuilt the car and rebuilt the engine, which of course then blew up.
Wanting something reliable, Ewan naturally decided to drop a Toyota 1UZ-FE quad cam V8 engine into the poor little hatchback. He mated that with a W58 gearbox and Tilton clutch and the Celica went like stink.
It wasn’t meant to be his forever car though, and Ewan eventually sold it to a friend.
Looking through the warehouse, it’s pretty obvious that Ewan has a knack for buying and selling fast machines and parts too. Stacked will source cars and components from all over Japan and ship them to anywhere in the world.
One corner of the building is reserved mostly for American customers who have bought cars but are waiting for the 25-year rule to apply so they can export them. Another corner is packed with boxes of goodies – think wheels, engines and bumpers. Whatever you can bid on, Ewan and his team can purchase it on your behalf.
And yes, that is indeed a very well known R32 Skyline GT-R drag car from years past, which like the Celica Supra at the centre of this story also made the trip from Japan to New Zealand and back again. You’ll have to wait a while for a feature, but we will make it happen.
This kind of obsession with fast cars is probably why, after selling his first V8-swapped Celica, Ewan invested some of the proceeds into another 1UZ powerplant without even having a body to put it in. Not for long anyway.
A year after selling the TA63 Celica, Ewan picked up this MA61 Celica Supra for NZ$750, or US$530 in today’s money.
In a way the choice was simple. Ewan already had the experience of dropping a big engine into his TA63, and indeed he already had a big engine ready to go. To make thing even easier, the MA61 had a larger engine bay to work with.
I’m not sure if it’s just Ewan or Kiwis in general, but I love his ‘make anything work’ attitude. You see, New Zealanders, like their Australian cousins, have a reputation of being pretty ingenious when it comes to making things from various other things.
When New Zealand switched to the metric system in in 1979, ‘number 8′ steel wire (a product used widely for farm fencing) became 4mm gauge, but the number 8 wire name stuck. Back in those colonial years, New Zealand and Australia were rather isolated from mother England, so resources were scarce. The Kiwis had to improvise and be creative with what they had, and they had plenty of number 8 wire. Today, the number 8 wire mentality remains a symbol of Kiwi ingenuity and resourcefulness.
But I digress, and in no way do I mean that Ewan has pieced this car together from bits in his garden shed. What I mean is he’s done most of the work himself, and figured out how to overcome some tricky problems along the way.
Now, back to how the Celica Supra all came together…
Shortly after purchase, Ewan and some mates gave the old Toyota a full ground-up body restoration in a friend’s workshop. Originally, the car was meant to wear Canary Yellow paint, but after the first coats were laid down Ewan wasn’t happy with the colour, so he pulled the pin and switched over to Ford Australia’s ‘Acid Rush’, which has an infinitely cooler name.
The 1UZ V8 went in stock, but then some larrikin joked that Ewan should supercharge it. That challenge was gracefully accepted and the real work began.
Over the next five years, Ewan pieced his monster together. The interior was completely gutted – except for the dash and door cards, the air-conditioning was binned and even excess wiring from the loom was stripped out. All the sound deadening was removed before the body joins were seam-welded, epoxy primed and painted again.
The body kit is a work of art in itself, and on each side of the car there’s essentially one continuous piece starting from the front fender flare running out to the rear.
You’ll see in the old photo above, the hatch was originally fitted with custom wing moulded from a butchered Sierra Cosworth item. The current inverted hatch is pretty cool, but there’s a big part of me that would like to see the whale tail back in action.
People always say ‘everything looks cooler with Japanese licence plates’ but I think you can pretty much forget that when you see a Japanese car driving through central Osaka on New Zealand plates, and personalised ones to boot.
The passing traffic must have been freaking out, not only at the cameraman hanging from the side of a Hiace van, but also at the monstrous beast with foreign plates cruising around the Kanjo Loop.
Now seems like a good time to take a closer look at the engine…
Sitting on top of the still, amazingly, stock 1UZ block is a Ford SVT Eaton M112 supercharger, an 2011 upgrade over the initial Eaton M90 fitted a year prior. Compressed air is pushed through a custom 100mm Race Radiators water-to-air intercooler. That water is cooled by a Subaru intercooler radiator and Toyota GT4 intercooler water pump, and is separate from the engine cooling system.
The intake manifold is the original 1UZ item, but Ewan has boxed off the top side and hollowed out the middle. Air (and fuel) flows into ported cylinder heads with Kelford Cams supercharger-spec camshafts that allow the engine to breathe more freely over 5,500rpm.
Along with the Eaton M112 supercharger upgrade, in 2011 Ewan switched from a 75mm to 95mm throttle body, added water/methanol injection, and fitted the then latest Link G4 engine management system.
All of this was done in New Zealand while Ewan was living in Japan running Stacked. After a dyno tuning session, the Celica Supra finally made its voyage back to the mother country.
Since then it’s been further upgraded with ARP head studs, a JZA70 R154 5-speed gearbox and a new line-lock system. All told, the engine setup is today good for around 500hp.
On a closed road near the Stacked warehouse, I sat in the passenger seat while Ewan rambunctiously stepped on the gas. Before the deafening whine of the supercharger even hit my ears, my body was pushed back into the seat and my life flashed before my eyes. Then the endorphins kicked in just as the car gently braked and returned to rest.
The crazy thing is, the Toyota wasn’t even close to having full traction, so half of the terrifying experience was wheel spin. But even with the tyres spinning it was enough to launch the Celica Supra into next Tuesday.
I think it’s safe to say this is the wildest road car I’ve had the pleasure of meeting here on Speedhunters.