Between the burly arches and underneath that stylish Fiber Images carbon-fiber hood lies an engine that means business. The already potent four-banger GTS model has been boosted courtesy of Stafford Fabrications. The piping, fuel system and FMIC are all built around a Garrett T3/T4 turbo for this application. Owner Mike Stafford undertook the task of developing a bolt-on turbo kit for a 2003 Celica GTS. Owner Richard Del Rosario went to them to develop this kit because nobody else was willing to take on the task of turbocharging a late-model car with a computer-controlled throttle.
The first task was to choose the turbo. They picked one that would match the output desired, as well as having fast spool-up for a street car. This unit ended up being a T3/T4, with a custom blend between the compressor and exhaust. Understandably, Mike was tightlipped about the trims.
The next task was to figure out how to make it fit in the limited space, as well as bolt to the stock exhaust. Because it's a bolt-on kit, they tried to accomplish the task of making the turbo/header/downpipe combination a direct replacement for the stock manifold. Then, Stafford had to figure out how to run the piping to accommodate a 3-inch air intake system that didn't sit under the exhaust manifold, and still have space to route the discharge piping around to the front of the car. Next was fitting the 19x9x3 intercooler without cutting up the APR 300 widebody kit while also retaining the factory fog lights. To top the turbo kit off, Stafford fitted it with a custom fuel rail to accommodate their unique fuel system, and fitted the kit with a Blitz blow-off valve. Once the kit was test fitted, the piping was pulled and sent to Aries Blasting, where it was covered in a candy blue powdercoating to accent the yellow paint job.
For R&D purposes, the Celica was taken to Le-Toy Motorsports in Bakersfield, Calif., to dyno tune the combination. On a mild boost setting, the Celica put down 225 hp to the ground and 190 lb-ft of torque. We were ready to step it up, but with the 19-inch wheels, the clutch wouldn't let testing go any further.
At the moment, Stafford and company are projecting the horsepower will be around 250 to the ground, and 215 lb-ft of torque at 8.5 psi once the clutch is replaced. Nitrous Express steps into the picture for this powerplant, but not directly. The juice is actually released through a small valve onto the intercooler to enhance the heat dissipation of the unit. The final power mod was a Tanabe Racing Medalion exhaust.
To better funnel the power to the ground, an ACT clutch replaced the failing stocker, a Fidanza aluminum flywheel was added and a Monkey Wrench Racing LSD were added to the mix.
While part of the Celica's aggressive stance is due to the widebody, suspension slam also affects the overall image. The B&G S3 suspension system's full adjustability allows the Celica to creep around lower than a life-insurance salesman at a rest home. Hotchkis camber links allow for some toe-in and toe-out, while an APR strut brace, along with the aforementioned springs and struts, provides plenty of bite to match the widebody's bark. Stoppers are slotted 13-inch rotors from AEM both front and rear and they bring the Celica to a halt quicker than the King of Pop in front of a junior high.
The Celica's interior isn't worn. From the Recaro Speed recliner racing seats to the custom-built center console, this Celica had barely been sat in before the photo shoot. The rest of the cabin has been spruced up with other color-matched interior pieces, including the door cards and dash. When firing up the Celica's turbo'd 2.0-liter, Richard deftly places his finger on the Ignited push-button starter after flicking the arming switch. Before blasting up on-ramps and such, Richard's hand works the TRD shift knob as his eyes glance furtively at gauges from Auto Meter. With all systems go, he takes off like a fighter pilot, screaming, "I feel the need for speed!"