Rise of the machine - ST185 Rebuild


Picked up a 1990 ST185 a couple of years ago and started tearing into it in early spring 2022. The car looked well taken care of but it was abused and neglected with some shotty work done in the past. What I expected would be a quick spring project has turned into a lot more. The plan is for this to be a weekend summer cruiser with a few track/autocross runs a year.

I have an 03 T3 Tundra (Arnold) so I figured the name of this build was fitting.

Photos to come once I have time. Bear with me while I figure out uploading.

Here's a list of what I've done over the last few months (some of which will be done hopefully in the next month so I can get it back on the road briefly before winter):

- King main and rod bearings
- Rebuilt CT26 w/ garrett internals (previous owner). I had the hot side ceramic coated.
- Unknown turbo manifold (previous owner). I ceramic coated and wrapped it.
- Unknown downpipe (previous owner). I ceramic coated and wrapped it.
- xiiimotorsports power steering pulley
- xiiimotorsports spherical shifter bushings
- xiiimotorsports fan shroud kit
- xiiimotorsports crossmember bushings
- EGR delete
- Clear timing cover
- Samco radiator and intake silicone hoses
- Late model E150F from Caldina (pending rebuild this weekend)
- MR2 Heaven shifter cables (still need to modify before I can install)
- Clutchmasters FX200 clutch
- Braided stainless clutch line
- Clutchmasters FW-725 steel flywheel and ARP bolts
- Poly engine mounts

- BC Racing RM series coilovers (courtesy of underscore)
- Control arm/steering rack/sway bar poly bushings
- TwosRUs Sway bar end links
- Braided stainless brake lines
- EBC yellow stuff pads (stock calipers for the time being) w/ unknown cross-drilled rotors
- Whiteline rear swaybar (2023 install)
- Apex Flow Formed Arc-8 (17x9 ET35)
- Falken Azenis RT660 (245/40R17)
- GT4 Racing rear diff mount and subframe bushings (2023 install)
- OEM rear spherical bushings (2023 install)

- Reshimed valves
- Rewrapped the entire engine bay wiring harness with Tesa tape
- Nearly all new OEM gaskets, seals and hoses
- New belts, timing belt tensioner, and pulleys
- OEM water pump and thermostat
- Rebuilt distributor
- Spark plugs and wires
- New clutch slave
- Rebuilt front CV axles
- Replaced various sensors
- Outer tie rods
- OEM lower ball joints (on order - backordered)
- Sandblasted/painted nearly every bracket on the motor/trans

Other Noteworthy:
- Vivid Lumen Industries projector headlights (waiting to install - will report back once I've tested them)


First time posting photos here so hopefully these work out.

Here was the car when I first picked it up. Like I said, looked to be well taken care of with what I thought were just some minor issues to address.


Started work in the spring and pulled the motor after throwing up an I-beam I picked up on marketplace. I don't have a garage but I've made my 8x12 shed work well.

A battery leak led to some fairly bad corrosion that needed to be dealt with. Cleaned everything up:


Threw together a makeshift paint booth after sandblasting way too many brackets, rigid lines, and other parts:


Wiring harness rewrapped with TESA 51036 tape after repairing a bunch of frayed wires and sketchy repairs:

Motor mostly reassembled after new bearings, reshimmed valves, new gaskets, hoses, water pump, belts, etc, etc...



Got the most out of this clutch...

Pulled old and new transmissions apart yesterday to swap over the speed sensor ring gear on the diff and inspect everything:

So many more photos and things I've done over the last few months. Definitely on the last stretch and just about ready to throw the motor/trans back in.


Figured I'd post a couple photos of my T3 Tundra. Rarer than my ST185 at only 200 produced. Tubbed for 35s with 4.88 gears and rear locker going in this month.




great work!! keep it up. takes a lot of work and money to keep these cars nice lol! but once it's all done, they're easy to maintain!

keep up with the updates lol, always nice seeing how peoples projects are coming along


Active member
That's an amazing amount of work. You're making me feel good about the price I paid for mine--I've had to do some work but nothing like what you've had to do just to get it stable. But the improvements! Nice, nice...


Thanks! It's definitely been an undertaking but it's been a good opportunity to get to know the ins and outs of the car and hopefully limit the number of surprises in the future. I'll admit, quite a bit of it wasn't really necessary. But anything I figured I had easy access to now while everything was out and I anticipate I might want to do in the next few years, I might as well just tackle it all at once.


Had a bit of a delay as my new Clutchmasters flywheel was missing the stepped alignment dowels. They finally arrived and I got the flywheel and clutch installed, trans and engine bolted back together, and back in the car this past Sunday.

What I'd give for a proper shop but I'm making do with my current setup:


Got everything back in, fired her up, and unfortunately started puking oil immediately. Determined it was due to a crack in the oil cooler mount I didn't see previously. Was able to source one fairly close along with new seals, got everything back together and everything's running great! Got out for a quick test drive to test the rebuilt transmission and everything is buttery smooth. Was also a good opportunity to test fit the new wheels/tires.


Parked again for the winter to work on some wiring and refresh the rear end.


Been busy tearing apart the rear end. Knuckles all stripped down, painted, and new spherical bushings. BC racing coilovers installed along with new Whiteline sway bar and end links. Every single bushing has been removed and rear subframe and trailing arms are all sandblasted waiting for powdercoat. I should be receiving some mandrel bends in the next couple of days and can start building the exhaust sometime in March.



After sandblasting I noticed the subframe had A LOT of pitting in the welds. Was a good opportunity to grind them down and reweld before paint. Everything's coming together and the rear end is going to be fresh!



Rear subframe fully assembled and brakes redone.

Built some wheel cribs so I could get some clearance working on the exhaust.

Decided to do 2.5" and ordered a kit with a bunch of mandrel bends. Previous exhaust had cats removed and straight section of 2.5" tubing between front cross member and rear subframe, but the bends were super restrictive. Definitely one of the most challenging fabrication projects I've worked one but made some good progress this past weekend. Just waiting on the muffler to arrive before final fit up and burning in all the welds.

Getting so close! A few small things to tidy up here and there but nothing that'll keep it from being on the road/track this summer. Once the exhaust is wrapped up I'll make some final suspension tweaks and then it's in for an alignment.
hey, that's some nice looking mig welds there. Definitely will be better than the porosity in the factory welds. I wonder if they had a problem with their gas that day. Everything looks clean and tidy, it'll be sweet when it's back on the road.


Thanks! Definitely seemed strange to see such poor factory welds. Curious if anyone else has seen similar on their cars?


Anyone know if I can get an accurate vacuum reading for my boost gauge if I run the line off what used to be for the EGR? Most of you seem to be running off the capped port on the back of the intake manifold. I would prefer to reuse the old EGR port to clean things up but not sure if it's too close to the throttle body to give an accurate reading. I know I can always install the line and see how the gauge seems to be acting, but figured I'd ask.

Sorry, bad zoomed in photo but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about...


Got the car out on the road for the first time in ~18 months! Everything seems to be good at the moment. Needs an alignment bad and I'll be corner balancing the car soon. A couple small things to work on still but it's all coming together!



Active member
Looking good! That's been a long hard road to get it back on the road. I feel awful with mine being not road worthy for six months. I'll be super stoked to have it back from the engine swap in August.

Genuinely impressed and jealous of your skills and persistence.


Thanks - I appreciate it!

On another note, this Morizo edition Corolla GR was out at a local autocross event this weekend. The owner has some local track time planned coming up as well. Glad to see this thing getting used!