The beauty in owning a vehicle is personalization, and being able to make it just the way you want it. From wheels and exhausts to engines and suspensions, whatever your taste… you can make it an extension of yourself. Your car says something about who you are, and I needed mine to say something about me. In my ongoing quest to find parts, I came to the grim realization that there simply wasn’t much to be had. Each new hope brought disappointment in its wake, and the problem each and every time was recognition. The All-Trac by no means left an impression on the motoring community. There are better, more interesting things to play with, and the All-Trac had been largely forgotten. I read an article once in Car and Driver that brutalized the car. It was condemned for being too heavy and having the handling prowess of an elephant on a slip-n-slide. With little reason to invest the time and effort, it’s no wonder there was very little in the aftermarket world.
My first hunt was for an exhaust. HKS made a standard cat-back sport exhaust, as well as Greddy and Pacesetter. I wanted something else. I traveled down the HKS road, picking up what they called an “Aluminized” steel exhaust for my GTS. These were just too plain and, in my mind, a small shift away from a stock exhaust. It was not what I’d call a “performance” exhaust. As any kid, I wanted a stainless steel 3” exhaust! That would give me the performance and durability I was looking for. Then I learned about backpressure and the ongoing debate of “How big is TOO big?!?” Personally, I‘m of the opinion that there is such a thing as “TOO big” and suddenly 3” wasn’t necessarily the target anymore. But it still left me in the same spot. So what to do? I rang up my friends at Demon Tweeks and asked what they could acquire. Their suggestion was to try the OMP line, a manufacturer of race parts including seats and roll cages. There were two inherent problems though….price and availability. And I still wouldn’t get what I wanted out of the exhaust. I’ve had enough, and realized I need to go directly to the source….Toyota Team Europe.
Finding them was no easy business. But eventually, I tracked them in Cologne, Germany where they still reside today under the moniker Toyota Motorsports GMBH. On display are some of their beautiful creations, including the mighty GT-4. I eventually located a phone number and rang them up. As expected…a German guy answered. I tried conveying my message but to no avail. Despite the English language being widely taught throughout Germany, this guy had none. Eventually, he passed me along to someone that spoke English and at last, progress!
My phone manners have developed over the years, with the most successful approach beginning with an introduction, followed by explaining what I’m after. Cutting through all the bullshit is much better than leaving the person on the other end waiting for you to get to the point. Takes the stress out of the situation. Ovё was a polite fellow, well-versed in broken English. And for a moment, I thought I might be talking to Ovё Andersson, father of TTE. But it ended up being another “Ovё”.
Ovё helped clear up a few things up and explained that much of their Celica parts were available for purchase. Some time had passed and the car was no longer needed for WRC competition, meaning there were no “secrets” left to divulge. And race teams fiercely guard their secrets. But, there was a problem. He had no one to spare for the inevitable questions, pricing, and transaction details. Therefore, he suggested I contact Fraser in the UK, a former engine builder for TTE and still a very active figure in motorsports. He admitted it sounded unusual but it will make the transaction much smoother since he knows what parts are available. And there wouldn’t be a language barrier.
Fraser is the person I alluded to in an earlier post about my trip to England. He was located only a short drive from Prodrive HQ in Banbury, making it an ideal stop while touring. Fraser would become my “key to the kingdom”, allowing me access to most any part I would like. Race parts, however, come at a price and some simply shouldn’t or won’t be suited for a street car. But the timing couldn’t be better, as TTE was looking to liquidate much of their rally parts to make room for F1.
First order of business….an exhaust. Fraser was very helpful in the process, advising which parts were better suited for the US version road car. There were several exhausts to choose from, but it was imperative to get the right one. Some exhausts were fashioned for a specific rally, having the muffler on the opposite side of the car. So it became clear how crucial his expertise was. Ultimately, a Group A exhaust wasn’t in the cards, simply because the nature of the power plant and because its requirements were so different than a Group N machine (which mimics more of the factory requirements). The antilag system in the WRC machine alone would cause fitment issues, and it just didn’t make sense. I opted for a Group N exhaust, coming in at a modest price. Because Germany was still using the Deutschemark, the exchange rate was very favorable! Suddenly a $4000 exhaust became affordable.
Fraser helped me through the process, including the payment transaction. He acted as a broker of sorts, taking all the grief out of the buying process. However, most parts would ship direct from Germany. The exhaust was ordered and I was anxious to see it in person! I remember the package came in on a Swiss Air flight and I had to go to the airline shipping office at Dulles to pay for the customs and duty. I was in there for so long. And it was a bit nerve-racking since I’d never done this before. After over an hour of waiting, I finally picked up my package. And it was huge! In fact, it’s still in my basement housing my factory exhaust. The first thing I noticed was there were no bolted flanges. Everything was slip-fit, with two welded tabs on each pipe. The exhaust was constructed of stainless steel, with the diameter falling in the 2-5/8” range. As expected, it’s completely open, without baffles or cats, though it does incorporate a muffler. As the GT-4 creates a tremendous amount of heat under hood, my intent was to cool things down as much as possible. I sent the downpipe out to get coated at Jet-Hot, which delayed installation another 2 weeks.
You’ll notice in the photos that there is a catalytic converter on the center pipe. It’s a cat from a junkyard 240Z that I hollowed out and wrapped around the pipe. It’s strictly an outer visual piece for emission inspections and doesn’t contribute to operation in any way.
On a side note, I’d like to extend my sincerest appreciation for all of your feedback! It makes my day when I read your comments, and keeps me on track for the next installment. I do apologize for the increased delays. Things have been so busy lately, but you’ve all been very gracious!