Building a Killer Starlet….The HARD way

When looking for exceptionally built vehicles, few consider a Toyota Starlet. This fine example, certainly looks like a starlet, has the engine of a starlet, but many will argue this car is no longer a starlet.

This car began its life as a plain jane starlet shell. He picked it up without engine and transmission after selling his previous EP82 Starlet. Unsatisfied with the numbing average performance of a stock starlet, Brain set off to craft something that would break down boundaries of what a starlet is capable of achieving. Initially, he tried the regular bolt-ons and tricks, including exhaust, intake, blow off valve, boost increase and an HKS Super AFR. Realizing he still didn’t distance himself from the other starlets prowling the street, he began to show his competitive nature and placed the car under the knife.

What sets this starlet apart is Brain’s attention to detail, with his choice of both aesthetically pleasing and performance enhancing parts selected for this assault. At the heart of this foundation is the 4E-FTE power plant  with strengthened engine internals. To that end, the motor was torn down and completely made over: Ross Racing forged pistons,  Ross piston rings, SCAT rods, Genuine Toyota engine bearings,  ARP Rod bolts and new OEM Toyota Head bolts. All carefully assembled and relocated back into the block along with fresh seals.

Topping the strengthened bottom end, a refreshed cylinder head with 5E-FHE cams to provide extra flow into the combustion chamber and custom polyurethane engine mounts were used to secure the engine in place. With the long block taken care of, it was now time to focus attention on other areas. The air enters through a Greddy Airnix filter through a short length of custom intake piping and into a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries TD04-13G turbo charger. The compressed air then makes its way to the front mounted intercooler via 2.5″ intercooler piping. A custom sized front mount intercooler sits through the TOM’s front bumper on its last stop into the factory intake manifold. A Greddy type RS blow off valve prevents the compressed air from returning to the turbo when the throttle plate has closed.

A high flowing exhaust system is a must for a well designed turbo system. Exhaust gases are channeled through a modified Wiked EP racing tubular manifold, through the turbo, a custom 2.5″ downpipe and a 34mm wastegate with a custom dump tube, until exiting the rear through an APEXi N1 muffler.

All this new found airflow creates a thirst for fuel,  which means the factory fuel system no longer provided enough juice. To handle this duty, a Walboro 255LPH pump was placed in tank and a set of four RX7 460cc injectors were dropped in. Overseeing this mechanical job, Greddy E-manage tuned by Scientst at AutoClinic, keeps the factory engine management system in check and air fuel ratios within a safe margin. To help ignite the pressurized mixture,  spark is created by the MSD Sport Compact ignition and Blaster Coil and distributed through custom 10.2mm Ignition leads to the four ZEX iridium spark plugs. To ensure a safe mixture at the 18 pounds of boost(soon to be 20 psi) crammed into the engine, a Cooling Mist methanol injection system was added to help raise the fuel’s octane level and keep the extreme heat of the combustion chamber in check.

All this power means nothing if it cannot be transferred to the ground reliably. With this in mind, the drivetrain was overhauled and in came a TRD Limited slip differential and a lightweight flywheel from JPS Japan. To handle engagement duties, a Speed Vision 4 puck sprung clutch and heavy duty pressure plate were thrown in .The heart of car’s dynamic ability comes from a set of Ground control coilover sleeves on a set of KYB SR Special shocks. This helps Brain fine tune the cars corner weight and height to suit the cars varied missions. To keep things even keel, a set of Whiteline front and rear anti-roll bars were installed with a Cusco Panhard rod. With a relocated battery to the trunk, Whiteline front and rear strut bar, and 17″ wheels help freshen up the handling characteristics of this car.

A car that corners and accelerates as fast as this starlet also requires a good braking system. To address this, a set of calipers from an AE101 Toyota Levin help provide the extra brake force required to get this car to a stand still. Connecting all the brake and acceleration forces to the road are Falken FK430 tires in a very conservative 205/35/17 wrapped in MSR 7 Spoke wheels.

Once the performance parts was reasonably close to where he wanted it, Brain turned his attention to the aesthetic part of things. With the exception of the front fascia and side skirts, all body panels remain factory including the Starlet Gi bonnet and Grill. The factory hood scoop bonnet was ditched in favor of the non turbo since there was no longer an intercooler sitting above the engine. The exterior was coated with a custom Tri-Pearl Yellow applied by the experts at Randy’s Spray shop. The seats were re-stitched with black and yellow leather and a Pioneer in dash DVD head unit helps provide the in car entertainment.

The bottom line? besides problems with cracking wastegate dump tubes, traction, excessive tire wear, he feels like his mission has been accomplished. This starlet gets mentioned with the likes of Dominica’s fastest, the supras, the evos, the imprezas, and have gone toe to toe with quite a few. Stay tuned as we track this car as it continues to grow in the future.

Words: Dwight Trotman Photography: Edmund Robinson




Built 4E-FTE, Ross Pistons, Scat Rods, ZEX Spark Plugs, MSD Sport Compact Ignition, MSD Blaster Coil, 460cc Injectors, Mitsubishi TD04-13G (Impreza WRX turbo), Custom Front Mount intercooler with 2.5″ Piping, Honda Civic Race radiator, Cooling Mist Methanol Injection, Greddy Type RS Bov, APEXi N1 Exhaust, Custom Oil Catch Can.


TRD 1.5way LSD, Speed Vision 4 Puck Sprung Clutch Pressure plate, JPS Japan Lightened Flywheel.

Wheels & Suspension:

Whiteline Front and Rear Sway bars, Whiteline Front and Rear Anti-roll Bars, Cusco Pan Hard Rod, Ground Control Coilover Sleaves, AE101 Levin twin piston calipers.


Greddy E-manage, APEXi Rev Speed Meter, AEM UEGO Wideband Oxygen Sensor and gauge, Autometer Oil Pressure, Water Temperature, Exhaust Gas Temperature, Fuel Pressure and Boost gauge, Pioneer DVD Player.


Custom pearl yellow paint, Toms front bumper, Starlet Gi hood, Custom clear lens side indicators, Smoked tail lens, Custom side and rear skirts, Titanium window tint, Bi-Xenon HID conversion.

Special Thanks:

Randy’s Spray Shop, Ebay, Autoclinic, Wiked EP Racing,, Nassco Barbados Ltd.