The black sheep, in white | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 20, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:04 PM, November 26, 2020


The black sheep, in white

1995 was a year for the books. Windows 95 was released by Microsoft, OJ Simpson was found not guilty, an unmanned spacecraft reached planet Jupiter. 1995 was also a much contentious year for the World Rally Championship -namely between Toyota Team Europe and Subaru (more on that later)

The ST205 Celica, enthusiast talk for the sixth-gen Toyota Celica had big shoes to fill. Its processor, the ST185 had a plethora of WRC titles under its belt. The bug-eyed Celica and TTE- Toyota Team Europe had their work cut out for them, and they delivered. Although the team suffered minor suspension gremlins, the Celica's straight-line speed was unrivalled. The competition simply couldn't replicate their 0-60 time, which should have been a red flag for the inevitable. But first a history lesson for the inevitable- fearing Group A cars reaching maniacal power figures which proved fatal for the infamous Group B, FIA imposed and mandated all participating teams to install a restrictor plate which when strapped to the turbo would restrict airflow and consequently limiting power output, keeping cars restrained around a sober 300HP.

What followed might have been the single most ingenious cheat (not my words) in the history of motorsports, for TTE devised a hack, similar to the much more infamous Dieselgate, but mechanically. The hacked restrictor-plate, when tightened to the turbo, would dislocate the framework inside aided by metal washers, by five millimetres- allowing 20% more airflow and resulting in an unfair advantage of 50 HP. However the ingenuity lies in the assembly itself for when the FIA inspection team disassembled the restrictor plates, the hack went unnoticed by the scrutineers. To this day, we still don't know how the FIA figured it out.  Tinfoil hat me thinks a whistleblower. "It's the most ingenious thing I have seen in 30 years of motorsport"- Max Mosley, former president of the FIA. A brilliant cheat, as applauded by the lawmakers of motorsport themselves. Toyota simply saw it as a slap on the wrist, while they were disqualified for the season. Which granted Subaru to lock the grid and clench the WRC title. The 1995 WRC also noted another controversy, namely Subaru's order in shambles, prevailed by politics between Colin McRae disobeying team order to hold a position in favour of teammate Carlos Sainz, but that's a story for another day.

On account of the controversies above, the ST205 Celica undoubtedly is a piece of history, the black sheep of the family if you will. This was also the last time Toyota or any team for that matter played dirty to date. Hopefully, you the reader came here for the car but stayed for the unsolicited history101.

Toyota had to sell 2500 of the initial homologation all-wheel-drive GT-FOUR's in 1994, the one with the largest wing on any production Toyota ever (seriously, it's huge-google it). Later model years parted with the wing in favour of a subdued spoiler. And that is what you're feasting your eyes upon today- Emon Shah's '97 ST205 Celica GT-Four in a mixed shade of Super White-II, the original homologation spec colour infused with a pearlescent purple. A piece of the typical over-engineered, functional Japanese sports car from the nineties. The plush no-frills interior while factory support for anti-lag. The bulbous hood has its own quirks and features. The functional mesh does no attempt of showing off its entrails, namely the top mount intercooler atop the 3SGTE, while the scoop beside it almost seems apologetic, providing a duct to channel air and cool the cam belt. While the quad lamps, affectionately referred to as the bug-eye just won't let you take it seriously.

Last time on project cars, we showcased Emon's older brother's starlet GT. Seems as if getting hold of precious Toyota's run in their blood, as, after years of collecting dust, their dad came into possession of the aforementioned Celica through a contact. Several overnight parts from Japan and later, the Celica runs and drives butter smooth on stock powertrain, while an Apexi n1 exhaust amplifies the engine note. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be. The bug-eyed Celica was the last and most powerful All wheel drive Celica Toyota ever made, as the succeeding final generation switched to a front-wheel-drive platform while taking the celestial moniker to the grave in 2006.  

Photo: Akif Hamid

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