FOR a long time, 1970s Japanese coupes were derided, slinking along in the shadow of Aussie two-door classics such as Toranas and Falcon hardtops, and stacked three-deep in wreckers’ yards after P-platers had crashed them. Not anymore, as this lovely RA28 Toyota Celica proves. Not only has its chintzy, tinselly 70s-era styling finally come of age, but this one has enough mojo to put down sizzling 11-second runs!

It’s the handiwork of Glenn Archer, who drove the Celica from Canberra for a Drag Challenge ‘holiday’ with his partner Sarah. “It’s my first Drag Challenge,” Glenn said on the eve of the event. “I’ve only been to the drags a couple of times before – once at Sydney and once at the Toyota Nationals at Mildura.”

It’s powered by what Glenn – and other Toyota nuts – refer to as a 1.5J six-cylinder (a 1J head on a 2J bottom end – Google it!).

He built the donk himself with an Australiandelivery 3.0-litre Supra bottom end under a 1JZ six-cylinder head that came from a wrecker, which Glenn had installed and has tinkered with since he bought the Celica five years ago out of a shed in Melbourne.

All that running gear had been in Glenn’s previous car, an earlier-model RA23 Celica coupe. “It was a little old lady car I heard about,” he says of the fastback model. “I flew down, bought it, changed the fluids and drove it home.

I really wanted a Mustang-style Celica.”

the fab work on the car except for the diff housing,” he says, referencing the cut-down ex-VP Commodore diff. Between that and the Haltech-controlled, E85-burning engine is an MV Automatics-built auto from the same Soarer the first engine came from. Helping with much of the prep was good mate Ken McCauley, who’s Glenn’s boss at Totally Tuned in Canberra.

Most of what you see inside and outside the car is standard, but Glenn has slid in a Sparco seat and RPM harness and keeps his eye on conditions with a set of Speedhut gauges in the original binnacle.

“I drive it as often as I can,” Glenn says, pointing out that his brisk Celica has now travelled more than 25,000km in its present configuration. To keep reliability up – and stay out of the 10-second zone with his no-rollcage car – Glenn backed off the boost and used pump petrol during Drag Challenge.

“The car went great,” he says of the Celica’s performance. “It towed my little box trailer along perfectly with a little tool box and some spare tyres, just in case!

“My biggest drama of the whole week was that my headliner sagged onto my head, and with no air conditioning, it was almost like driving a shitty old Commodore,” he laughs.

“We’ll have air con next year for sure.”

Adding punch to the package is the Garrett GT35/82R turbo mounted on a steam-pipe manifold that Glenn built himself. “I did all


Class: K&N Dial Your Own


Engine: Toyota 2JZ-GE 3.0-litre six-cylinder with 1JZ head Turbo: Garrett GT35/82R Transmission: Toyota A340 fourspeed auto Converter: MV Automatics 3500rpm Diff: 3.89:1 Power: 340rwkW Previous PB: 10.7@134mph Best Drag Challenge Pass: 11.5@113mph


MARK Mills must have been the only LH-LX Torana in the Haltech Radial Blown class not running an LS-based engine. Instead, the sleeper four-door sedan rocked a 1990s 3.0-litre DOHC 2JZ-GTE straight-six from the Toyota Supra and Aristo.

Mark replaced the 2JZ’s factory twin turbos with one giant Garrett GT42 pumping a healthy 30psi into the infamously tough stock Tojo bottom end.

“It has Kelford cams and valve springs, and runs on E85 at the track,” Mark says. “Apart from that, the head gasket and head studs are all the original 1994 parts Toyota put in there.”

Weighing in at an estimated 1350kg and with 670hp through the tyres, the Torry laid down some impressive times during Drag Challenge 2017, with a PB of 9.12@149mph on Day Five, landing Mark in 10th spot in the highly competitive Radial Blown class.

the road,” Mark says. “The E85 was in a fuel cell and I’d change the tanks over at the track. It was pretty easy, as I could flush the lines so I knew I was running on 100 per cent E85 at the track.”

Amazingly, Mark had done only a handful of runs in the car before setting out on Australia’s ultimate drag racing torture test.

“It had done about eight runs before coming on Drag Challenge,” he says. “I got kicked out twice and was going to ’cage it when a mate suggested I do Drag Challenge, so that’s what I did.

“The car ran fine all week; I actually had more trouble with the trailer, as it blew a tail-light globe and the hitch was a bit wobbly.

“I’d like to come back for more, but I don’t know what it needs to go faster – maybe a bigger turbo and plenum?”

“We run E85 when I race it, but I had it on 98 for need plenum ds


Class: Haltech Radial Blown


Engine: 3.0-litre Toyota 2JZ six-cylinder Turbo: Garrett GT42 Transmission: Powerglide Converter: 4000rpm Diff: 3.89:1 Power: 670rwhp Previous PB: 9.17@148mph Best Drag Challenge Pass: 9.12@149mph