Car clubs are pretty broad these days, but a dedicated bunch of car owners have formed a club primarily focusing on the Toyota Celica GT-Four, which spans three generations — ST165, ST185, and ST205 — and is considered among one of the most successful rally chassis of the last few decades.
Admittedly, when we received an invitation to attend the NZ Toyota GT-Four Owners Club’s second birthday meet and car show we weren’t too sure what to expect. We’d pictured a small group of fanatic Celica owners, or something along the lines of the regular weekend meet-up, but our minds were quickly blown after we arrived at the venue to find nearly 40 examples across the three generations in attendance — a rather impressive display, and testament to the organization of Club President Greg Martin, and his committee members.
The Celica GT-Four model included three generations; ST165 (1986–1989), ST185 (1989–1993), and ST205 (1994–1999). Examples of each were out in force, however the number of the newest generation almost doubled the other two.
This ex–Toyota rally team ST165 was purchased out of Japan by Dean Sinton, and since landing in the land of the long white cloud, it has remained a popular fixture within the club — taking out Best ST165 two years running. The running gear was ripped from the later-model ST205 with a Steve Murch–built snail bolted to the front. Packing plenty of memories from its heyday, the TRD rally suspension still remains, as does the sweet ’80s-era livery.
There was a special exception made for those that own the Celica’s younger, chubbier brother — the Caldina GT-Four — as the club’s title does not technically specify Celicas only, although some may disagree and it remains a hotly debated subject among members. Either way, it provided us with even more 3S-GTE-hearted Toyotas and who doesn’t love a quick shopping trolley?
Taz’s ‘GT4PWA’ ST205 is what would be classed as the wilder side of things at a GT-Four owners meet, and after arriving with a fresh custom-made front splitter and bumper canards, the crowd was drawn fairly quick. The aero look was packaged well with stark-white VOLK Racing CE28N, which is probably why it also picked up its second People’s Choice award.
Although David Choong’s car didn’t quite make the trip up from Wellington, thanks to a leaking power steering rack, it was there in spirit — a pair of rubber-shod wheels and bottle of power steering fluid in its place as a jest at the cars absence.
It may have the body of an outsider, but this Toyota Hilux also had the familiar 3S-GTE heart that all GT-Four owners love. We had hoped to find it also sporting a four-wheel-drive drivetrain, but for now it remains a rear-wheel-drive example with the intention of laying down thick black lines on the local skidpan.
According to Martin, the WRC-style spoiler risers are a sought-after commodity in the GT-Four community, and tend to command a pretty penny — it’s all in the details.
Working within the field that we do, we couldn’t leave the event without finding the most heavily modified car there (bar the previously mentioned ute), and practically everyone was in agreement — Mike Man’s ST205 took the cake. Home to a BorgWarner EFR7163 turbo, the Group A anti-lag system, Link G4+, and with E85 fuel pumping through the lines, it didn’t fall short of impressive.
But that’s enough yapping on from us — check out the full gallery below and make sure to grab yourself a copy of the October 2016 issue of NZ Performance Car (Issue No. 238) to catch all the mini features that we chucked in for your reading and viewing pleasure.