I think we get lost in the numbers of a build, one too many times. We want the highest horsepower, the most boost, just a little more lift in the cam, more displacement… the list goes on. We’re all guilty of it in one way or another. But there’s a sweet spot with every car. A sweet spot that the internet often ignores. That perfect balance that exceeds anything numbers could explain. That point where you get the wondrous gut feeling of controlled chaos….. while still having a reliable, functioning machine that you know won’t shit a piston at any second. Something that’s not naive and wildly unpredictable like an angsty teen. It’s aged fine, mature, strong, stable, and wise… like an OG in flannel who’s homies with his old enemies.
So, while some are out there, rippin’ about for another month until they’re bricked in a garage for the next year. While others are changing through wheels and trying to be the next loudest, flashiest and most flared. Mark will still be there, slowly mastering his machine. Teetering on that fine-tipped point of perfection & balance. This is Mark Leake. This is his 1990 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo.
*lights corn cob pipe while wearing velvet robe*
When I think of Celica All-Trac, I think of the white, green, and red Castrol livery WRC Celica. The Celica entered right after Group B WRC closed. Toyota could only offer production cars to the continuing rally team. In a little over a year, Toyota Team Europe converted this street car into a dominating WRC machine. Between the Celica GT-4’s three generations in the sport, it won 30 WRC series. This generation, the ST-185, won 16 of the those 30. Arguably, Toyota Team Europe’s domination of the early 90’s WRC put Japan on the top of the sport. If you know anything about Rallye, you know this car.
In 1995, the FIA ordered mandatory turbo restrictor plates on competing cars. TTE didn’t want to lose its edge on the competition and meticulously designed a restrictor that disengaged once installed. That meant when it was taken apart to inspect, everything looked normal and law abiding by the FIA. It’s all about interpreting the rulebook lol. Unclear on how they caught the extra 50hp from the 25% additional airflow, the FIA had no choice but to disqualify & ban the team for a year. However, they could not ignore the totally clever innovation of the plate saying, “It’s the most ingenious thing I have ever seen in 30 years of motorsports.” By the time TTE came back, teams like Mitsubishi & Subaru had followed their path and furthered the movement of Japanese WRC domination.
See, Toyota did something amazing. After Group B was closed, they took this model off the production line and made it into a strong, mature, and stable monster. TTE showed the world that they can find that perfect balance in their curvaceous sport coupe, even if it wasn’t meant for WRC, and crush the competition. They built something unique… and built it to handle anything you could throw at it. They built a movement. A movement that I believe helped lead to the scene that blew up in the early 2000s.
*snuffs out tobacco pipe*
In love with all that’s behind the Celica All Trac, Mark had to get one. He drove all the way to Texas in hopes to buy one, but after inspection, came back empty-handed. Back home at a local Toyota meet, however, he got a lead on a good ST-185 shell a couple hours east of home. It was the one.
But Leake’s work was cut out for him. He picked up a Celica GT-4 front clip from Jarco Inc. and got to work. Like most of us, he began the swap with little knowledge of what to expect. However, thanks to practical Toyota engineering, patiently taking everything apart from the clip taught him all he needed to know about dropping the 3SGTE with 5-speed AWD transmission into his shell.
From there-on, staying true to the Celica’s engineered limitation was the goal. With today’s technology, turbos, and tuners, it’s easy for us to blow way past previous ceilings. But Mark trusted that Toyota had it right in the early 90’s. He could make it faster, but that wouldn’t stay true to the era.
Mark’s ST-185 begs questions… the types of questions that carry the brand’s heritage. Mark’s preserving a moment in time & motorsports.
1990 Toyota Celica GT-4 All-Trac Turbo
Engine / Performance
-Toyota JDM 3S-GTE engine
-Toyota JDM E150F tranny
-Toyota JDM ST185 ECU (higher fuel map)
-Toyota JDM ceramic CT20b turbo
-HKS Fuel Cut Defender
-HKS Hi-Power 3″ Hyper Exhaust system
-HKS SSQV (GEN4)
-HKS Twin Power ignition
-Greddy catch can
-Dr Tweak engine harness
-3″ flex pipe & downpipe
-TWM short-throw shifter
-31x12x3 front mount intercooler
-2.5″ custom aluminum IC piping kit
-Walbro Supra 255lph fuel pump
-ATS Tuning aluminum throttle body adapter
-TwosRUs valve cover bolts
-Custom aluminum radiator cooling panel
-Dyno at 1bar boost ~250awhp @ 5800rpms 10.99afr & 245lb/ft torque
-Spec Stage-2 full face kevlar clutch kit
-Intrax 2” drop front springs
-Koni Yellow adjustable front struts
-BC Racing BR Series coilovers 1.5” drop rear
-Yokohama Parada Spec 2 tires @ 215/40/17
-17×7 Lenso Project D (D1R) wheels
Body / Interior / Other
-Toyota GT-FourRC hood
-Toyota GT-FourRC mirrors
-Toyota GT-FourRC bumper
-Toyota GT-Four steering wheel
-Toyota JDM clear corners
-Toyota JDM clear bumper lights
-TRD shift knob
-Complete AC removal
-Battery relocated to trunk
-Speedhut custom GPS speedo
Text by Jesuel Rivera Photos by Jacob Owen