1980 Toyota Trueno (TE71)
Name: John Franich // Age: 28
Location: Auckland // Occupation: Panel shop foreman
NZ Performance Car: Hi, John. TE71s are precious metal these days, how’d you score yours?
John: Hey, guys. I bought the car off my dad (Dave Franich) as an unfinished project about six or seven years ago. He picked it up in the early ‘00s with plans of running it in the Targa and had started converting it to a 302ci Ford Windsor V8. While that was happening it had all the rust repaired, the fire wall cut to set the V8 back in the car, as well as the chassis strengthened to allow for the extra horsepower. That ended up getting sidelined and the motor went into his XY Falcon, with the Trueno getting a 3T-GTE instead. He decided that it needed a lot more time and money spent on it to get it racing, so that’s when I took over.
Was it your dad that got you into cars in the first place?
Oh yeah, watching him build a V8-powered EH Holden when I was young, and with all the race cars he’s had over the years, I couldn’t help but get into cars! My dad is the sole person to thank for getting me into cars so early in life and teaching me a lot of what I know today.
Cars are an awesome thing to bond over. What was the first thing you did once you had taken the reins of the TE71?
I yanked the engine out for a freshen up. That first engine had stock internals and I chucked it back in, along with a turbo upgrade from the stock CT20 to a T28 — it helps to have a container full of these parts that have been hoarded over the years. It eventually let go while out racing.
Tough as nails until the end. What series do you compete in?
I did many, many track days testing it out and then entered the All Classic Japanese Series (ACJS). In my first season I placed fourth in the invitation group, which is when the engine blew in the last round. That off season I bought a bunch of bits from Aus and started planning the new engine with Marsh Motorsport, who did all the machine work and balancing. It was ready for my second season of ACJS, and I finished second in the Invitation Class.
Pretty good for your first couple of seasons! Is there something about old Toyotas that keep drawing you to them?
My first car was an AE70 hardtop that Dad panel-and-painted for me to start learning in, followed by a KE70 twin-headlight sedan. I’ve had so many old Toyotas since then. I just love the way you can make them look with their square bodies, and they handle well straight out the box.
And has your dad had a blast since you’ve completed the build?
He gave it a good thrashing when I first got it going with the first engine, but he is well overdue for another outing in it with all the extra stuff I’ve done to the engine and suspension.
No doubt he’ll be impressed. Cheers for the chat, John.
Engine: Toyota 3T-GTE, 1800cc,
four-cylinder; balanced and decked block, Ross Performance oversized forged pistons, resized factory rods, reground crank, ARP fasteners, 4A-GZE injectors, Tomei fuel-pressure regulator, Turbosmart 38mm wastegate, T28 turbo, modified exhaust manifold, modified factory intake, front-mount intercooler, three-inch straight pipe
Drivetrain: Toyota W58 five-speed, Exedy six-puck clutch, short-shifter, Hilux LSD (4:1 ratio), five-stud axles, R33 GTS-25T four-pot front calipers, BA Falcon slotted cross-drilled and vented rotors, Pagid RS4 race pads, Maxima calipers and rotors, Bendix pads, shortened driveshaft
Interior: Nardi steering wheel, Sparco quick release, NZKW billet alloy bosskit, Racepro Tarmac head restraint seat, NZKW harness, six-point roll cage, Autometer gauges, Innovate air/fuel ratio
Exterior: Resprayed Shell yellow, pumped and flared guards, custom front lip, Sparco bonnet pins
Wheels/tyres: 15x8-inch (+0) XXR 002, 205/50R15 Toyo R888
Suspension: Toyota Crown Bilstein front coilovers, Bilstein rear shocks, Tein springs, Techno Toy Tuning camber plates, Techno Toy Tuning RCAs, custom rose-jointed front lower control arms, Whiteline front and rear adjustable sway bar, Bilstein springs, Nolathane bushings, custom rose-jointed rear four-link, adjustable panhard rod, braced chassis rails, engine set back 260mm, AE70 Corolla power steering rack
Times: Hampton Downs - 1m 18s; new Pukekohe - 1m 18s; old Pukekohe - 1m 10s
Thanks: To my dad, Dave Franich; Zac at Autolink, Luke at PPG, Ian at Racelign, Warren at iSign it, Kurt Pearce, Daniel Franich, my partner, Freyan, Mark B, Franko Lewis, and Marcel at Peter Hendriks Panel & Paint
This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car issue No. 250 —you can get your grubby mitts on a print copy by clicking the cover below