1981 Toyota Soarer MZ11
Name: Tom Acott // Age: 31
Location: Wellington // Occupation: Diesel mechanic
NZ Performance Car: Hi, Tom. How did you get into cars, and what was your first?
Tom: Hi, guys. I have been a petrolhead since I was in my teens. Initially, it was motorbikes, then go-karts, and a paddock-basher Mini — all sorts. When it came time to get my licence, I got a trusty old 1987 Nissan Navara diesel ute, and slapped on my first-ever custom turbo kit for 20psi of hilarity.
Nice! What made you buy the Soarer, and how long have you had it?
I’ve owned it for four years now, after originally stumbling across it while browsing for parts to go on my other factory turbo ’83 Soarer (which is being restored). It had been in storage since 1994 with 73,000km on the clock, having survived the Christchurch earthquake with only a few scratches and bumps. I love the boxy ’80s shape, plush velour, and chrome trimming that sets it off — knowing that Toyota has this exact model in their museum adds a bit of bragging rights too [laughs].
We love a good ‘barn find’. What was the original goal for the build when you got it?
I wanted to bring it back up to a safe standard after 19 years of hardparking, and enjoy cruising in it with my wife and daughter. The engine and transmission were out of action and needed major repair, so I ended up overhauling the braking, suspension, fuel system, and drivetrain. The 2.8-litre (5M-GE) was quite tame, with the transmission sucking a lot of power, so the chase for more began.
It now has a bit of a monster under the bonnet — what does that consist of?
I originally designed a turbo kit for the smaller 5M-GE, and it responded well to a little forced induction, so I thought how can improve on that? It was important to me to keep the era of the car correct, so I thought, why not take the strongest turbo block and bore it out to the maximum, stroke it, and fit my ported 12-valve head to push the limits for a laugh. This resulted in building the 7M/6M hybrid with tough internals.
And was there a particular reason you decided to leave it auto?
Purely because it’s a cruiser. The three-speed auto has tall gears, which keep the engine at peak torque for longer, and, as the car is so pristine, I couldn’t bring myself to chop it up to accept a manual. You can have a milkshake or a coffee, and chew the tyres at the same time.
A wicked cruiser it is, too. Thanks for the chat, Tom.
Engine: Toyota 7M-GTE; 3200cc; six-cylinder; bored 2mm over; decked block; polished crank; custom ZQ forged rods; custom Wiseco 86mm pistons; Taiho main, big end, and auxiliary bearings; ARP main studs and rod bolts; ported, polished, and skimmed 5M-GE head; de-shrouded valves; Franklin Cams custom 267-degree camshafts; modified 1JZ vernier cam gears; modified cooling ports; Cometic 1.2mm MLS head gasket; ARP head studs; stainless manifold; 40mm wastegate; XS Power T66 turbo; three-inch exhaust; jumbo hot dog silencer; billet pulley kit; modified intake manifold; Denso 700cc fuel injectors; Aeromotive fuel-pressure regulator; oil cooler; custom water-to-air intercooler; MSD timing controller
Drivetrain: Three-speed auto
Interior: OEM plush comfort, optional gold-embossed seat belts, Defi multi-display logger
Exterior: Two-tone cinnamon brown and gold sunburst paintwork
Wheels/tyres: 15x9-inch (+0) Volk Racing, 205/50R15 Kingstar
Suspension: Cobra super-low springs, Koni adjustable shocks
This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car issue No. 251 — get your grubby mitts on a copy by clicking the cover below