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Celica Tuning

"The Celica is a reliable project car base to work on."


The Celica first appeared back in 1970 so it has enjoyed a long run.

Ever since Toyota dropped the Supra, the 5th generation Celica was the only sports oriented 4 seater car they produced.

It had pop up headlights and a choice of engines from the underpowered 1.6 4AFE to the 2.2 5SFE engine.

The 3SGTE engine was provided with a turbo and made this the engine of choice for a Celica Tuning project.

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The turbo engine produced 225 ps and came in a number of limited edition guises. 4 wheel drive/steer make the cars handling sharp and lively. The GT Four Rally presents the most Celica tuning options and had many race spec components.

Celicas were until recently the fun family sports coupe from Toyota. The 5th and 6th generation are the best for tuning with a lovely turbo engine.

The later sixth generation had round headlights and subtle styling. The 3SGTE engine was still an option and the last version of the GT Four ST205 had a light weight aluminium roof and CT20B turbocharger taking power to 230 hp ready to meet the Homologation rules for the WRC.

By 2000, Toyota deemed the Celica to need an upgrade and the 7th generation model was introduced with distinctive triangular headlights.

There were only 2 engine options both using versions of the VVT (variable valve timing), with the lovely high revving 2ZZ-GE 180 hp engine.

Beware though as some countries had rev limits reduced from 8400rpm to 7800 where full power is starting to come on strong.

Celica Tuning

It seemed to be a bad move at the time reducing the power and hoping that strong sales would continue.

Toyota have announced that the Celica will no longer be available in the USA due to declining sales.

Celica Tuning modifications.

The following modifications are usually performed by our Celica owning members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.

Getting the right mods for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 (competition) mods just don't work well on the road.

Stage 1 mods: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Remap, lighter flywheel

Stage 2 mods: Fast road cam, ported and polished head, fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades, 

Stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), competition cam.

There is no shortage of parts around for the Celica particularly the 5th and 6th generation cars. Engine swaps are popular with owners looking to obtain the 2.0 Turbo engine. Suspension upgrades will do a lot to improve the handling and ride quality. After you have modded the car look at a full Remap using a new ecu such as that from Apexi in the guise of the power FC will unleash a few more hp. The Toyota ECU's are locked and very few are able to remap them so going the aftermarket route is the answer. Be sure to choose an aftermarket ECU with a knock sensor though.

Get the breathing right with a sports manifold and induction kit with a cold air feed. A boost controller will smooth the power delivery. Stick to boost levels of 15psi. A fast road cam and uprated turbo will take power up to around 340 bhp.

If you strengthen the engine then  you don't have to stop there, the power gains are phenomenal with large turbo conversions but you will probably end up with a fair amount of turbo lag. Traction is a problem on 2 wheel drive models so the four wheel drive limited editions are great project cars and can put some serious power down.

The clutch can slip when large power gains are put through the transmission. If this is the case, or your clutch is getting old it will be time to replace it with a trible plate clutch in a high friction material.

A ligher flywheel will help the engine to feel more revvy and is quite handy for track use where the engine is mainly used in the high end of the RPM band. Fuelling upgrades should help to match the air intake charge and in some cases you will need uprated injectors, a bigger fuel pump and wideband Lambda.

Lowering the car by 30-40mm will help improve the handling and the cornering. Large wheels of 18 or 19 inches will be prone to tramlining and should be avoided if you are serious about performance.

Join us in our forum and meet up with other Celica owners where you can chat and swap tuning ideas for your car.Also have a read of our tuning articles to see what the pros and cons are of the many tuning options open to you.

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Your Constructive comments on this article

2 Responses to “Tuning the Toyota Celica”

  1. TorqueCars says:

    What mods have you done to your Celica? What mods work best, which were the most disappointing and what mods have you got planned for the future? Please share your tips.

  2. peterM says:

    is it still possible to increase Power of a celica 1991 4wd carlos sainz now 208 It looks that chip tuning is no option for this model
    How ?? where to find parts??

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