Talk about your project car here


Postby Roreri » Fri Sep 17, 2021 3:24 am

Forgive me as a reel off a tale. I think all AllTracs and GT-Fours are project cars at this point. Mine's no different. I purchased a Celica GT-Four ST185H-BLMVZ (facelift wide body fifth gen) manufactured March 18 1992 from J-Spec Auto Sports on August 12 2021. This replaces a Super Red 5-speed manual 1991 Celica ST I bought brand new as my first car purchase, and then lost under unhappy circumstances.

The ST didn’t have the best styling. The back end was wanting elegance, for sure. Even back in 1991 I wanted a liftback GT--or at least a spoiler--but the financing was right at the edge of what I could afford. In the end I had to give it back to the bank when I lost my job--when I was a a much younger man. Not my proudest moment. So this GT-Four is a measure of repair for that.


Even the purchase was a project. I had rented a Dodge Challenger RT for a solo weekend trip in July 2021. It was a lot of fun, and by the end of the weekend I found myself building one at the website. But, then I said "Nope. I want a 1975 Chevy Nova (my first car), or I want a Celica (the first car I bought)." Not being able to have both, and recognizing the higher bar of ownership for a 50 year old classic, I settled in on the Celica. And a GT-Four at that (I've lived in Japan so rhd cars are no issue for me) because I wanted the best. I found a listing, but I only moved on it because it was within driving distance and I could lay eyes, ears, and hands on it. Before purchasing it, I did two inspections--one of them with a mechanic cousin of mine on FaceTime. I did a CarVx check (for what that's worth). I also had an independent mechanic inspect it.

J-Spec CelicaN.jpg

I verified the 66,869km odometer reading by the presence of an innocuous bit of data in the engine compartment: a Wako's oil change sticker that was so faded that all that remained of the information that had been written on it was the impression of the pen. I could still--by getting at the right angle--read that the last oil change of 4L of lubricant had been done in June 16 (as 16 meant Heisei 16, 2004!), and next oil change was scheduled for 71,635km. Subtract 5000km from that and that's 66,635km. A CarVx check did not give any odometer data from the MLIT registrations in 1992, 2001 and 2003. The last that the GT-Four had been road legal in Japan was June 2004, per the vehicle inspection sticker on the windshield. No accidents were noted on the CarVx.

I saw the auction sheet, which I could read as I speak Japanese. It indicated that it was an R grade (damaged or modified) vehicle, interior grade B--one step below like new. The auction sheet read 66,861km. A very thorough three hour long inspection turned up only that the passenger side door panel had about a 18" diameter oval where the paint was thicker--what? Some kind of minor parking lot scuffle? All of the corner interiors and underbody and the panel lines and door lines were perfect. The underbody had some rust on the exhaust but the fenders, sills, and wheel wells were in great shape. It was noted as a one owner vehicle on the auction sheet. Whoever bought this car in May 1992 went for NO options. No 10-speaker upgraded sound system--just the base cassette player and six speakers. No sunroof (I saw this as a plus given the possibility of compromised seals!). No ABS--ABS was pretty primitive back then anyway. Cloth interior--very 90s with the color slashes--but very clean. One nice plus is all the JDM ST185s came with the Torsen rear differentials.

It had the following modifications--the previous owner(s) put a lot into this:

OZ Racing 16x8 Crono 5-spoke wheels in grey--no curb rash, but the paint is chipping some
BBS Ultra Lightweight Lug Nuts (20g/nut)
25mm spacers on rear wheels
KYB Climb Gear Rear Struts
Cusco pillowtop camber plates
KYB Climb Gear front shocks with lowering springs (24.125" to the top of the front wheel well, 25.5" to the top of the rear)
Blitz Twin Boost Controller Allowing up to 15psi boost
Apexi 5-band Super-Air Flow Converter (presently set to zero modification)
Omoni boost gauge
Car Mate Razo Turbo Timer
Cusco rear tower bar
Aftermarket exhaust (brand indeterminate)
Aftermarket shift knob (a rather inoffensive white ball)
Aftermarket passenger-side knee storage box (nice for detailing wipes!)
Celica-branded rear area protective rubber mat
HKS Super Power Megaflow "green mushroom" air filter (since replaced with K&N)
MOMO Adapter Hub
MOMO 3-spoke steering wheel with Lonza center plate (since replaced with MOMO Ghibli 4)
OEM Carlos Sainz Edition hood and front bumper
Aftermarket rear skid plate (fuel tank shield) with Toyota Team Europe sticker
Rebadged with USDM "turboAllTrac" rear hatch badge (this strikes me as a very "Japanese" thing to do)
Fabbed sheetmetal rain guards for the bonnet vents (since removed, I will figure out something better)
Applique CarMate rear mirror (currently deinstalled)
Pearl Black rear Toyota Emblem
Lonza Aluminum Gas Pedal
Fuel defenser allowing greater than 8psi boost
Factory 180km/h speed limiter defeated
OEM Torsen Rear LSD

So, I assessed it as "heavily modified" rather than a salvage title equivalent. It's hard to tell exactly where the previous owner's head was at--it was sort of a weird mixture of rally and street. The purchase price of those mods were in the $8000 range, plus install. The high value mods were the CS hood and bumper, the OZ Crono wheels, the exhaust and the steering wheel. Not that mods always add to the value of a car--in fact they are often liabilities!--but these were tastefully done and well selected in my opinion. It's a 1990s JDM tuner time capsule, modified but clean. The rear Torsen LSD which came standard with JDM GT-Fours was a nice score. The rear tower bar install was about as nice as it could be (I've seen pics of some hack jobs):

Tower Bar Install Small.JPG

The circa 2003 inspection sticker was not faded after some 18 years, suggesting it was garaged, and the general condition of the GT-Four was very good. Not concours level, by any means, but imagine a car that looks like it's 4-5 years old, one that you took really good care of, with zero upholstery tears or burns, and only one minor blemish on the dash from adhesive tape, and two very minor dents, and that captures the condition. There were assorted small scratches here and there--character marks at this point. A very little bit of rust near the hatch.

The jackasses who strapped it for transport scuffed up the paint a little just above the wheel wells. The most severe damage was that the corner of the hood back on the driver's side corner had been slightly bent somehow--easily fixable with a pair of dykes and some clearcoat until I get it repainted down the road. The cigarette lighter was in the center console, unused. I guessed that it had been under cover for much if not all of its life. It just had a good feel to it, and it smelled almost new. No crazy Black Ice trees hanging off the mirror. The floor mats were nice--and original. The rubber and plastic looked good. Hoses were pliable. Everything worked on the dash cluster and steering column.

It had passed Virginia inspection (though I am not so naïve as to believe that there could not have been some friendly collusion). I took it to an independent mechanic, who said of it after looking at it an hour: "There are a few minor leaks--the power steering pump is leaking a little bit of fluid, but the reservoir is not low so the leak must not be too bad. The steering rack has a small amount of seepage. Both front brake rotors have quite a bit of rust build up. This will probably wear away once the car gets driven more. The A/C does not blow cold but the compressor does spin indicating the system is low on Freon. The rear wheel bearings have a slight amount of play. On my test drive I did notice a significant amount of steering wheel vibration at highway speeds. Tires are in great condition and have even wear (10/32" on all 4). I would suggest planning on buying tires as I am guessing there is a bad tire from sitting in one spot for too long. The underneath is pretty clean considering the age, minimal rust mainly on the exhaust system. No major leaks and the suspension is all tight and would pass safety inspection. Under the hood is clean and no leaks. Fluids are all at proper level and in good condition. Overall this vehicle is in good condition." I went and looked at it on the lift and damn if it wasn't nice. I asked the inspecting mechanic to pull a plug and it appeared in good shape--standard looking moderate mileage plug. Normal combustion.

So, what I felt I was looking at was a GT-Four that hadn't been driven a lot--if at all--over the past fifteen to sixteen years. There could be any number of incipient problems. The seals, gaskets, and o-rings, fuel line, fuel pump, and so on could be rotted out. But overall I didn't get that gut feeling. The bones seemed good as they say in the old house business. I asked J-Spec to come down a bit on the price, put in a brake light, put some new wiper blades on it, and install the previous owner deleted windshield washer nozzles and hose, to which they agreed. I could have been more aggressive in the negotiations. What I would do differently if I had it to do over again is have the inspecting mechanic's service writer draw up a list of fluid changes, tires, ac conversion and service, and a timing belt changeout (because there was no proof that it had ever been done!) and I would have asked for J-Spec to come down a good portion of that amount. Politely.

On the delivery day, I took delivery at 66,916km. I had a 90 mile drive home. My wife drove escort. At 8.3 miles from the point of purchase, the battery, rear lights, and cat indicators flashed on. I pulled over, we discussed the matter, I checked temps, and we continued on for another 21.4 miles with me listening and watching the coolant temp gauge closely before my nerve broke. I called my insurance roadside assist and flatbedded it home (nice to have good insurance, it only cost $80 for a 60 mile tow).


Over the next month I took it on short trips around the neighborhood, bought some accessories, and I had a laundry list of services, corrections, and preventive maintenance done:

First Service 13 August 2021:

Coolant system pressure test (passed)
Replace battery with Interstate MT-24+new negative battery terminal
Coolant flush and replace with BG coolant
Manual Transmission fluid exchange with BG Synchro Shift
Rear diff fluid exchange with BG 75W140 synthetic gear oil
Power steering service with BG Fluid
Replace air conditioning, alternator, and power steering belts
Replace left side steering rack boot

I put a USB power port with voltage readout in the cigarette lighter to keep track of the bus voltage. It's close enough, I figure.

Second Service 20 August to 7 September 2021:

Timing belt change with HKS Fine Tune Belt and OEM parts sourced from PrimeMR2
Replace water pump with OEM part
Replace thermostat with OEM part
Replace failing alternator with used OEM alternator
Mount, balance 4xVredestein Quatrac 205/50R16 Tires (the tires that came with it were OOOOLLLLLD :oops: )
Wheel Alignment

The shop I took it to took fourteen business days to do this--and made me source the timing belt kit, water pump, thermostat, and alternator! That tested my patience sorely, but getting pissy with people who have your near-antique pseudo-exotic up on the lift is folly. A friend of mine who was a a Toyota tech at a dealership in the 80s and 90s for 15 years told me to just take it to a dealership and have a Toyota tech look at it. Though I am leery of dealerships, I did have to admit that I needed someone who at least knew the platform, and the first place I took it to--I couldn't have that again--so I did as he advised for the A/C service. We could try that out, and then see, was my thinking.

Third Service 9 September 2021:

A/C system leak check
A/C system flush, evac, convert to R134a valves, recharge
Cut a second key

The dealership came through like a champ. Dropped it off at 7:30am, got a call at 4:00pm. AC was blowing cold and the system was solid--no leaks detected. The folks there seemed really jazzed to see a 30year old Celica. It drew a lot of attention, and I thought that the notoriety of the GT-Four could translate into a good thing. We could work out a modus vivendi, I could work with one service writer and one tech, and over time, that tech would get to know the GT-Four.

Then--on 9/11 of all effing days I should have known--it stranded my patient wife and I when I was giving her the full girlfriend experience and took her to go get coffee. Just dead. No power at all. Jumping it didn't work, push starting it didn't work. It didn't make sense. Some weird electrical problem? I was thinking starter motor? I tapped it, but that didn't work. Solenoid? Nothing seemed to work. I ended up towing it to the nearby Toyota dealer because they had been so responsive. They were able to take me in that same day--for which I was grateful and hopeful.

Fourth Service 11 September 2021:

Replace Interstate MT-24 with TrueStart 84-month Toyota battery+new positive battery terminal

I had my doubts about the battery—especially as it was new and I’d been paying attention to he voltage via the cigarette lighter bus voltage indicator. The service writer was saying something that sounded a bit sketchy. But I was in a shitty logistical situation so I said go ahead, try it. And a couple of hours later they called me to say all was well. I forwent the $25 core charge credit and retained the Interstate battery to check it and return it for warranty if it was dead and didn't take a charge. But then later that day taking it out of the back of the Celica while wrestling with the failing hatch supports I dropped it like a clod, busting it a little. I Gorilla taped the battery, checked it with multimeter, saw it had 12.9v, disconnected the new Toyota battery, hooked the now cracked Interstate up to the terminals, and started the GT-Four with it.

I went to the Toyota dealership and returned the Interstate battery for core charge, because I was not going to try and return a functional but damaged battery to another shop, and I wasn't going to have a Gorilla taped battery in a hot engine compartment--which is a disaster in the making of the sort I might have inflicted on myself as a cheap-ass younger man. I told the shop that they sold me a battery I didn't need. They were sorry, they said they were slammed and maybe the tech didn't make the right call. But they weren't making any noises like they were going to make it right. I said let's not do that again, and reconciled myself that I had both battery terminals replaced now and had a Toyota 84-month battery in the Celica. Had a good conversation with the Service Manager. We agreed that we'd have one tech work on it--their master tech--and I'd work with one service writer henceforth. I told them it's good business to have a 30 year old Toyota being well taken care of by them, visibly, where people can see it. I had a chance to chat the techs up about it and they were clearly excited to be working on something a little more interesting than warranty oil changes for soccer mom RAV4s.

Over the first month I also put some WeatherGuard floor mats in, ordered a couple of Celica keychains—one shaped like an ST185 with RORERI on it, the other a snappy looking stainless rectangle with CELICA on it—got a sunshade, bought a Bluetooth cassette tape adapter, a couple of Big Green Books, and Graham Robinson’s GT-Four (great read btw).


All of this effort was worth it to establish a reasonably solid mechanical and automotive baseline. I feel I can trust it now, like it's not going to destroy itself. Since then, I've been driving it the 20 mile round trip to work and back, and seeing to some detailing. Clay bar, two coats of wax, scrubbed the wheels, rejuvenated all of the rubber and plastic with Meguiar's Ultimate Black, and rubbed the shift boot with mink oil. It looks sharp, drives well on 93 Octane, holds tight to the road in the corner, and has a lot of pull in all gears provided I'm not stupidly out of power band--I tend to start in second because first is so tight. Letting off the gas in first is like stepping on the brakes. I've decided to just not run the boost controller at present. The A/C blows amazingly cold. I have a mix tape of period proper music--Prodigy, Rage Against the Machine, Machines of Loving Grace, Front 242, Killing Joke, NIN, Sisters of Mercy, and so on that I share with all and sundry with the windows down.

I had a weird scare when I filled it with gas to the click stop and then had the tank vent pressure and a little raw fuel through the charcoal can onto the driveway (I only put 10 Gallons in it at 1/4 tank now!). I did a block test at 500km to verify that there are no exhaust gases in the coolant--it passed just fine. Yeah I might be a little paranoid but I have no idea how long the head gasket had been sitting, whether it's the original paper gasket, or what. It's been behaving better and better over the weeks as I shake it down, maybe especially now that I've burned a tank of gas through it. It seems to want to idle at 700rpm, which I know is low. Occasionally, it will stall out.


I've named it Lorelei, after the siren of the Rhône--also after my wife--but pronounced row reh rai, in the manner that Japanese people would butcher my wife's name to my constant amusement and her increasing frustration. It has so far lured my bank account to some distress, but it's been good fun and I'm in wait and see mode for the next bit that needs attention.


Added Arsvita Bluetooth cassette adapter (9 September 2021)
Replaced HKS air filter with a 6" K&N High-Flow air filter (16 September 2021)
Replaced failed hatch struts with StrongArm gas hatch struts (21 September 2021)
Rust mitigation with clearcoat around hatch (21 September 2021)
Installed MOMO Olympic III steering wheel (22 September 2021)
Touch up paint on windshield wiper arms (24 September 2021)
Spot touch-up on shipping scars at wheel wells (25 September 2021)
Engine compartment detail and touch up paint on surface rusted areas (25-26 September 2021)
Installed Auto Meter Dual Temp Gauge and Air-Fuel Ratio Gauge (28 October 2021)
Corrected slightly low idle (~600RPM) (30 October 2021)
Installed Denso SK20PR-A8 iridium spark plugs (6 November 2021)
Underbody rust prevention (January 2022)
Repair and paint exhaust (February 2022)
Touch up paint on rear window wiper arm (6 March 2022)
Replaced OEM Yazaki Ignition Wires (Dated 1992!) with new Denso Ignition Wires at 72,000km (18 March 2022)
Installed OEM Fuel Filter (22 March 2022)
Installed Intermotor Distributor Cap and Bosch Rotor at 72,000km (24 March 2022)
Painted Front Calipers and Rotors (21 April 2022)
Installed Feal 441 Coilovers (22 April 2022)
Painted Rear Calipers and Rotors (24 April 2022)
Replaced Front CV Axles at 73,000km (28 April 2022)
Replaced damaged 41lb OEM CS hood with 11lb Carbon Microsystem carbon fiber CS hood replica (19 May 2022)
Replaced 33.4lb Lead-Acid Battery with 4.81lb Shorai LFX36L3BS12 (24 May 2022)
Installed NGK BKR7E Spark Plugs at 76,500km, replacing Denso SK20PR-A8 Spark Plugs (26 May 2022)
Replaced Horn Relay (28 May 2022)
Repaired Coolant Overflow Bottle (20 May 2022)
Coolant Super Flush at 77,000km (1 June 2022)
Cleaned Electrolyte from Leaking Capacitors off of ECU PCB (3 June 2022)
Replaced White Ball Gearshift Knob with TRD Knob (6 June 2022)
Lubed Rear Brake Caliper Slide Pins (7 June 2022)
Replaced Left Rear Tire (Nail Puncture) (9 June 2022)
Disabled Antenna Motor (10 June 2022)
Replaced ECU Capacitors (14 June 2022)
Fuel Injectors Cleaned and Serviced by Fuel Injector Specialists (23 August 2022)
Throttle Position Sensor (28 August 2022)
Fuel Pump Replacement (Stock Denso Unit) (10 September 2022)
New Denso Fuel Pump Relay (13 September 2022)


I'm not done with it yet. These are my future projects to set everything right, lighten the Lorelei, and unleash power while keeping a classy, stock appearance under casual inspection:

Fuel Pressure Regulator (Racer X Bosch FPR adapter and Bosch 3 Bar FPR on order)
Enkei PF05 16x7 Wheels (-22.8 lbs unsprung) and Bridgestone Potenza RS-71RS 215/45 R16 Tires (+4 lbs unsprung)
Front Mount Intercooler
Carbon fiber front fenders (-25lbs)
Carbon fiber drive shaft (-30lbs)
Katzkin leather Interior
New catback exhaust system (HKS Silent Hi-Power?)
Front Strut Bar
Paint Correction
Restore OZ Crono Wheels


Air Conditioning (Leak seems to have corrected itself--I don't blast it full power all the time)
Fuel venting when tank over 7/8 full (probably gasket at top of fuel tank)
Wheel bearings
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Last edited by Roreri on Wed Sep 14, 2022 1:17 am, edited 92 times in total.
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1992 Toyota Celica

Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby underscore » Fri Sep 17, 2021 5:55 am

The R grade may also just be from the hood/bumper swap. Back in the day at least, anything my friends imported that had a body kit had been given an R grading.

Is it still running the stock ATA intercooler with the RC hood?

Roreri wrote:The shop I took it to took fourteen business days to do this--and made me source the timing belt kit, water pump, thermostat, and alternator!

If it makes you feel any better, mine was stuck at a shop for 2.5 years. Granted they were doing a little more work, but it was still far longer than it should've been there. On that note actually, if you've got a PS leak be sure the correct fluid is in there and someone didn't just top it off with the wrong stuff. Double check what the cap says but what started the whole mess that had my car in the shop so long was regular PS fluid was put in and it was raining out of everywhere. After I got the car back it still leaked. After putting the correct fluid in it, it stopped.
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby Roreri » Fri Sep 17, 2021 9:59 am

That's good confirmation about the hood/bumper swap. It's not "original parts" so that makes sense.

It is still running the stock ATA intercooler. I am concerned about heat, yes. I checked the intercooler this morning after driving 10 miles (30 minutes) to work. It read 183 degrees F.

This ST185 is a little bit of a bag of paradoxes. It will probably always be a mystery what the previous owner's intent was, but yes. It seems they wanted to CS/RC it up, but only to a point.

2.5 years is a long time for your friend to be in jail--my sympathies. You now know what it's like to stick with someone through their incarceration.

The shop I went to for initial services listed the power steering system work as "BG Power Steering Fluid Exchange, BG Powersteering Service Kit Ais Gold," which is not real informative. But all of the BG services I had done come with a Lifetime Protection Plan.

If that's worth anything. ; )
Last edited by Roreri on Fri Sep 17, 2021 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby simple » Fri Sep 17, 2021 11:43 am

Good read. Getting one of these japanese classics back on the road is a worthy but challenging effort.
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby Roreri » Fri Sep 17, 2021 10:30 pm

Thanks! It's always a good feeling to get the positive strokes, and I agree. It's been most satisfying on the whole.

HKS Filter Replacement with K&N 6" High-Flow Air Filter (RE-0930)


HKS Filter Small.JPG

An engine is an air pump. I'm not the most engine savvy guy, but I know that clean air--in large quantities--is key to performance and engine longevity. In a past life, I'd been in the business of M1 Abrams tanks, which are pushed around by Honeywell AGT 1500hp Lycoming gas turbines (max torque 3950lb-ft!). I'd seen what gritty air could do to turbine blades. The HKS Super Power Megaflow "air filter" doesn't have the best of reputations. I'd been thinking of this for a while, and I decided that last night was the night. I stopped by Advance Auto Parts, and I picked up a Spectre Performance 3" OD 90 degree hose and a K&N RE0930 6" Height, 6" Base Diameter High Flow Air Filter. About $60.

I took the HKS "filter" out, and what did I see?

Well, Shit.JPG

Well, shit. That wasn't good. Whatever. I was almost not even surprised. I was correcting it now. The issue was space. The Celica airbox space is not very large. It took a little cutting on that 90 degree tube, and I used the short rubber hose that mated the HKS "filter" to the MAF to mate the MAF to the 90 degree tube, but it all came together. One problem is the air intake manifold outboard of the now deleted air box that allows the engine to draw air from somewhere in the front left corner of the bumper. I couldn't find an easy way to pull it out to allow the K&N filter to sit down in the space, so I just let it ride high and push the MAF slightly back off of the brace it sat on. I sure wasn't going to hack that feed tube out of the space.



Not too bad. It sits a little prouder than I would like, but it doesn't touch the underside of the hood. The fabbed heat shield no longer fits, having relied on the small size of the HKS filter for room.

Down the road, I might consider a rear compartment battery box and a straight feed setup with the air filter sitting where the battery currently is. But this will do for now. I feel better now that the GT-Four isn't sucking raw air. Who knows how long it was that way? Nobody. The consequences will be felt down the road, if any.

I drove it to work for the fifth straight day this morning. It was satisfying to see it run reliably all week. It seemed that early on, it was idling just a tad lower than before, when the engine was gulping air through the open gap at the bottom of the HKS "filter." But the excessively low new idle speed seemed to go away. Still, even so, it seems to want to warm idle at around 700rpm. If I turn on the A/C it idles higher.

The A/C is still blowing very cold. I like the climate control "Auto" feature, which slow spools the fans through the various speeds until reaching the target speed, instead of just shooting to MAX FAN right off the bat. I discovered that if I set the temperature to say, 25, the "Auto" feature will set the fan speed to achieve that. That's a nice touch. I'm still using a meat thermometer to check the temps, and sware on me mum I saw 34 degrees for a second. That's effing cold.

After work, I took my wife to the Toyota dealership to pick up her RAV4. She finally was able to get the fuel tank recall work done, eighteen months after buying it (Covid supply chain problems). The RAV4s had a problem where the fuel tank would click off at 3/4 tank. Not a huge problem, but annoying. Anyway, instead of dropping her off in front of the service area, I rolled into the service bay dropoff area and dropped her off, then through and turned around to head out. She texted me: "You got an "Oh, that's cool" from a lady and some appreciative glances from some dudes as you left."

Damn straight. ; ) I don't know how many Carlos Sainz clone fifth gen Celicas are still rolling around the U.S., but it can't be many, and of those, even fewer rhd. Nice to get the strokes.

I hit 1/2 tank after filling it to 3/4 tank the other day. Total distance driven over those 5 Gallons: 150km. Well, that's easy division. 30km/G or 18.63 mpG composite over that distance.

When I got home I checked the intercooler temp with a meat thermometer--I just stick it between a couple of bent vanes--after it had run about 45 minutes and 23 miles. 210 degrees F, dropping slowly off load with the hood up. I let the engine run for fifteen minutes, after which it had dropped to 180 degrees F. Then I shut it down and it cooled to 171 degrees F after another 5 minutes.

I should probably get an intercooler pusher fan, since the CS/RC hood isn't doing it any airflow favors. Maybe this one from ATS Racing:

Last edited by Roreri on Wed Mar 09, 2022 2:59 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby celi703 » Sat Sep 18, 2021 1:57 am

This was a good read! Looks like we live in the same area too!
I have also gone through ups and downs with my alltrac, everything from putting another engine to changing the clutch.
Every time I would take it to the shop they would not know anything about it so would have to educate them lol
I say its worth the effort because not many left and the people who know what it is get excited when they see it!
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby Roreri » Sat Sep 18, 2021 3:55 am

Thanks! Hey, another NoVA guy!

That's a lot of travails you've been through. Respect. The first shop I had it in, I took the Big Green Books down and said "Here, these might help." When it was done, the tech was very appreciative.

But yes, absolutely. People get excited. The dealership service writers, assistant service manager, and techs were visibly intrigued by it, and it was getting a lot of attention from people who had brought in their cars, from all accounts. You hope that goodwill and the rarity of the vehicle will carry over into how it gets treated, you know?

I am continuing with my plans. With this next project, the visual transformation of Roreri into a Carlos Sainz tribute will be complete. A preview:

Momo Ghibli 4 NOS.JPG

New Old Stock Box.JPG

Made in 5-92.JPG
(37.74 KiB) Not downloaded yet

I couldn't quite bring myself to pay the $882 that an actual Carlos Sainz MOMO Toyota Olympic III went for just a couple of days ago. This will have to do, and I'm not trying to fool anybody, most of all myself.
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby underscore » Sat Sep 18, 2021 4:10 am

You mean one of these? Someone paid $882 US for one?


Those HKS filters always confused me. I owned a fake one that had a second layer of the metal mesh under the element, so it was clamped in place and couldn't collapse. And I owned a real one, which, like yours, only had the outer layer and nothing to keep the filter from falling in like that. Kinda odd when the fake is better made than the original.

Roreri wrote:The shop I went to for initial services listed the power steering system work as "BG Power Steering Fluid Exchange, BG Powersteering Service Kit Ais Gold," which is not real informative. But all of the BG services I had done come with a Lifetime Protection Plan.

I imagine if it doesn't leak much then you're good to go. If you have concerns I'm sure they can tell you what specs the fluid they used meets.
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby Roreri » Sat Sep 18, 2021 4:30 am

Momo Listing Sold.JPG

Yes. Are they laying about to be had for less? I've seen zebrawood Olympics for fairly cheap from UAE and Malaysia, and there's a leather Olympic III in OZ for $625 shipping included.
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby underscore » Sat Sep 18, 2021 4:47 am

The hard part is actually finding the ads, since the MOMO wheels were available on a couple different cars and nobody seems to label them correctly, but they should be out there. Here's one that's just missing the horn button: ... SwphthQPq3
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby Roreri » Sat Sep 18, 2021 12:14 pm

I saw that one. Even gave it a thought. Didn't want to chase down a horn button and I felt the condition a little off for what I wanted. I saw this one and though the price was high, new old stock condition made in the month and year when my GT-Four was purchased was too nice for me to resist.

I think it's fascinating all of the variation that exists in steering wheels--just like wheels. I had never given it much thought until the matter came to my garage. I scrolled through literally hundreds of ads on eBay, for listings of the same crap wheel for every make and model. It doesn't help that if you add "Celica" into the search terms, an eBay algorithm adds (Fits: Celica) into hundreds of irrelevant trash listings to spam you. The MOMO Olympic IIIs come in a variety of finishes. The one I got was mislabeled "Ghibli 4."

Even those that are all leather have small differences--for example yours has the yellow lettering and Toyota on the horn button. Mine has the indents on the spokes at 3 and 9 and MOMO embossed on it. Then there are the zebrawood examples and I've seen all-wood Astras from Norway and Lithuania if I remember correctly that looks very similar.
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby Roreri » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:56 am


I encountered some interesting behavior from my GT-Four today.

So, I'm pulling uphill to the fourth floor of the parking garage after driving the ten miles in to work. I catch out of the corner of my eye a flash, like a spark? Like, through the CS hood vent from where the battery is? I quickly stop, turn the motor off, and pop the hood and look around. Nothing. No arcing, nothing. Everything looking perfectly normal. I set my jaw and took a deep breath and was okay with it.

I drove it at lunch no problems.

I got to the end of the day, and while driving over some rough patches at the beginning of my trip home, several dash indicators--Cat, Battery, and Rear Lamp flashed on, and the speedometer dropped from 60kmph to 40kmph. It felt like the car was browning out. Just as quickly, these lights went out, and normal operating conditions resumed. This happened several times in fairly rapid succession at the beginning of my drive home. I pulled out my iPhone, pointed it at the gauge cluster, and started recording. Thankfully for my diagnosis, I suppose, it happened again almost immediately.

Bump Short 20 Sep 2021.JPG

I considered pulling over, but the GT-Four was still moving--and now I was definitely paying attention to the battery through the hood vent--and so I continued on. For most of the ten mile drive home, no problems. But it happened again close to home--again, over a bump. I got it home, and considered the options.

I took it for another test drive in the evening, recording the gauge cluster, and clocking 55km over the course of an hour. It drove well, and I found a stretch where I was able to really open it up and stretch it's legs, but I also experienced this "brownout" twice over the course of the hour--both times while going over bumps.

I had the A/C on, and on auto, and it was going full blast. I noticed the second time it had browned out, that the A/C system had reset as if it had turned off. Instead of being on high, it had returned to Low and then cycled up through the fan settings to High.

The clock was unaffected. Whatever was happening was transitory enough that the clock wasn't resetting.

It seemed to be something electrical related to bumps. Something loose.

Then I thought: "This is a new condition. What did I change recently?" I changed the air filter. And in doing so, I took out the previous owner's fabbed up sheet metal heat shield, which was secured onto the battery brace. Ah. I had not locked that back down. So, I got the nut and secured the battery. I also checked the battery terminals, tightening them down another notch.

I'll see tomorrow. Yet another lesson on how owning a GT-Four is an adventure in maintenance, quirk tolerance, and attention to details.
Last edited by Roreri on Mon Sep 27, 2021 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby psipwrd » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:28 pm

Electrical issues are the worst! Sounds like a short.

I can set my MSPNP2 ECU on the passenger floor to watch the LEDS as I crank to make sure I get the sync LED. Once idling, I can move the ECU and it'll stall, no sparks, no popped fuses. My goal is to find a new/used harness and check the whole thing, swap it out, then repair the old harness.
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby Roreri » Wed Sep 22, 2021 12:34 am

It was the battery not being locked down and the terminals not tight enough. Easy fix. Glad I didn't take it in. Glad that I don't have a more insidious problem like you have psipwrd.

Drove like a champ today. I'm getting a little bolder with how I'm driving it. There's a nice reasonable radius exchange ramp I get to drive every day. The sign says 45mph. Nobody heeds that, usually taking it at 55mph. Conditions were wide open so I gave it some play. The GT-Four held the corner nicely at 75mph with yet more cornering left in it.

Today was the day of affirmations--the GT-Four gets a lot more attention than I thought it would but today was kinda nuts. Rolled up next to a convertible Vette, looked over, gave the thumbs up, got a nice hello and a knowing smile.

Got hailed by a guy in a pickup truck who thought my GT-Four was awesome--said he'd never seen one like mine before--and told me about his 1994 which he loves. I said take care of it and it'll last a long time yet.

Was pulling out of the parking garage on my way home, and a Super Red sixth gen Celica GT rolls past. Guy waves, then actually pulls over to the side of the road to wait for me to turn left into traffic so we can chat about it at the next light--much easier to do what with me on the right hand side. We break at the next light, he rolls forward, I turn left. A mile later we join back up--he went out the south gate while I went out the north gate. We're again next to each other going the same way. We roll together for a couple or three miles covering for each other in traffic until he gets to his offramp. That was pretty cool.

I think the thing that's most intriguing to me is that I feel the GT-Four can hold its head up with about any company, especially now with its rarity. Anything higher on the cool scale is costing twice or three times the amount. Or more. Like the dude at work whose Lotus Evora I walked past today. That's cooler. But, well, that's real money. As the Car and Driver article says about the Evora--you're not likely to see another at the Cars and Coffee. Well, that's true about a GT-Four too--especially a rhd example. ; )


Today was also the day of new hatch struts. I received a set of Strong Arm hatch struts from I had to go get a set of metric sockets to deal with the 10mm bolts. Installation was relatively simple--took about 30-45 minutes. I'm a little clumsy. The main thing is that you need to do both of them at the same time. Don't do the one and then the other. Also, you can rotate the strut downward and back to access the front, inner bolt with the socket--you'll know which one I mean if you do it yourself. No need to wrestle with a wrench in a tight space.

Hatch Struts 21 Sep 2021.JPG

I also took the opportunity to wipe the cargo mat, the interior plastic, and the hatch seal with Meguiar's Ultimate Black. The rubber and plastic is in really good shape and not all scarred up, and I want to keep it that way. I also took the opportunity to take a little steel wool to two rust spots around the hatch and then apply some clear coat. This one was pretty simple.

Rust Spot Under Hatch Right Side 21 Sep 2021.JPG

This one I masked off the surface and just schmeared clear coat over the surface rust down on the surface below the crack using the little nail polish style applicator on the cap of my bottle of clear coat. I'll deal with it in a nicer manner later. This is just for now.

Rust Spots at Top of Hatch 21 SEP 2021.JPG
Last edited by Roreri on Mon Sep 27, 2021 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RORERI: Acquiring and Preserving a 1992 ST185H-BLMVZ

Postby Roreri » Thu Sep 23, 2021 1:14 am


I received a new old stock MOMO Ghibli 4 leather steering wheel today, packaged in the original box. I opened it, and it was pretty much brand new, just as listed. It did have one small scuff near the horn button and the horn button itself had some scuffing.

A second horn button was included, of the same sort, but it became apparent on examination that the horn button that came installed had been taken to a belt sander to reduce the diameter of the ring around it so it would fit in the center hole of the steering wheel. This new one would need the same treatment if it were to fit. Okay, so, later for that someday down the road. Or, I'll just find one that fits.

I went to take off the existing MOMO wheel and Lonza center plate. It was fine, by the way, as steering wheels go. This is entirely elective surgery. The horn button wasn't working though. It worked when I bought it, but somewhere along the way in the past couple of weeks it had stopped working.

Old Steering Wheel.JPG

The Lonza center plate came off without issue. The steering wheel was attached to the MOMO adapter with three star-headed screws. I got two of them off with a T15 star head and an adjustable wrench--I couldn't get them to budge with the T15 star head in a screwdriver. The third one, however, was set so tight that it bent my T15 star bit. Twisted it like to break if I persisted. I went and got a 3/8" ratchet with a T15 star head. I should have got some penetrating oil, too, because I stripped the screw head.

I was like wtf. Seriously? The Lonza center plate was flush mounted, so those screws literally had nowhere to go. They need not have been set so hard. But then maybe the years had taken their effect at marrying the screw to the threads. Who knows?

A trip to the store to get a screw extractor, a tap wrench, the correct size drill bit (the bit that's missing from your set will always be the one you need), and an hour later, and the steering wheel was off.

Steering Wheel Off 22 Sep 2021.jpg

A little bit of wiring, some electrical tape to secure the ground, screws back in (tight but not crazy torqued down), center pad and horn button back on, side horn thumb buttons working, and all done.

Olympic III Installed 22 Sep 2021.jpg

Everything is a matter of taste. I like the more subdued look of the Ghibli 4 as opposed to the track style of the wheel that came with it. I have the option to go back if I change my mind.
Last edited by Roreri on Fri Jun 10, 2022 11:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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