1996 Toyota Celica GT-4 – Under-Over – 156

November 10th, 2010 by NZPC

Clint Beaumont’s hard-tuned ST205 Celica GT-4 is the ultimate underrated over-achiever.

Until the late 1980s, European marques such as Peugeot and Audi dominated the World Rally Championship. That all changed with the introduction of Toyota’s Celica GT-4 the car that secured not only the Japanese company’s very first WRC victory, but also 30 round wins, three drivers’ titles (Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol) and two manufacturers’ titles over the next decade.

As with all WRC Group A cars of the time, to achieve homologation the GT-4 needed to be based on a road car that was available to the public. This gave birth to the GT-4 road car (and, of course, is the very reason we are able to drive Subaru Impreza WRX STIs and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions).

Over the next 10 years, the GT-4 evolved through three generations, the ST165, ST185 and last and by far the best, the ST205. With all this race-winning, high-tech weaponry and championship glory under its belt, why has the GT-4 never been an overly popular ride in New Zealand? Frankly, we have no idea.

Clint Beaumont, the owner of this particularly vicious 1996 ST205 Celica GT-4, doesn’t know either, though he has one or two ideas. “I’m not entirely sure,” he says. “I think the Evos and WRXs that came flooding into the country at around the same time as the Celica really slowed things down a bit. There is a lot less off-the-shelf aftermarket gear for the car, and besides all of that, a lot of people would rather a four-door sedan as opposed to a two-door coupe.”

The lack of rear doors or aftermarket parts didn’t bother Clint. “That suited me fine,” he says. “It meant I could build my car from scratch, exactly as I wanted it.”

He had plenty of scope for the build, too, since the GT-4 was standard save the TRD spoiler and some 17-inch rims. Like most other feature car owners, Clint started small, modifying bits here and there. Inevitably, things got out of control, coming to a head when the factory-spec 2.0-litre turbocharged 3S-GTE motor gave up the ghost. Growing up around the speedway scene and working as a Toyota NZ technician, Clint was able to see his misfortune as a great opportunity to get serious under the bonnet.

The Celica was to remain Clint’s daily vehicle, so it had to be very driveable and it couldn’t be off the road for too long. The four-cylinder motor was quickly cracked open and rebuilt using top-of-the-line forged gear from Eagle, Wiseco and ARP, while a fourth generation head from a Caldina GT-T, complete with custom cams from CSL, was modified and bolted on top.

A mid-sized Garrett GT30R turbo feeds the new motor, providing a good balance between power and driveability, with full boost available at around 3500rpm.

Looking at the ST205’s engine bay, it is clear that Clint is a perfectionist. Custom catch cans abound, each taking hours to complete, while braided lines snake everywhere with not a wire to be seen.

With help from a high-flowing fuel system and an ignition/ECU setup from Haltech, the 3S-GTE now makes a very healthy and very driveable 250kW at all four wheels. “It’s a bit of an animal, but not in an uncontrollable way,” Clint says. “It definitely goes sideways if pushed and will light up all four wheels pretty nicely when launching. Out on the circuit it goes pretty well, and I’ve built the car so that it performs reliably, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Outside of the engine bay, Clint has kept things very simple, often calling on his employer, Toyota NZ, for enhancements. Toyota Racing Developments (TRD) logos can be seen right through the car, from the brakes to the suspension and even the custom-embroided Racetech seats. Although looks definitely are not a priority for Clint, he admits there are a few things that could do with some improvements. “I think the TRD rear wing helps a lot, but I’m definitely looking at getting some new wheels and a C-One front lip,” he says.

A quick look online clearly shows that Celica GT-4s are most certainly underrated, often going for absolute bargain bin prices. Although the ST205 might not be the first car that comes to mind when you think 'road-going rally weapon’, perhaps Clint Beaumont’s hard-charging, daily-driven Toyota could just be the car that changes your way of thinking.

1996 Toyota Celica GT-4 – Specifications

Engine: Toyota 3S-GTE 2.0-litre DOHC 16V, Eagle rods, Wiseco forged pistons, fully balanced, ARP main studs, ARP rod bolts, Caldina Gen4 GT-T head match ported, custom cut valve seats, HKS adjustable cam gears, reset valve springs, CSL custom cams, K&N air filter, HPC-coated Caldina GT-T Gen4 intake manifold, Gizzmo thermo gasket, custom 2.5-inch stainless intercooler piping, Garrett GT30R turbo, custom HPC-coated steampipe exhaust manifold, GReddy Type RS blow-off valve, 700x300x80 intercooler, Tial 38mm external wastegate, 3-inch exhaust system, Walbro 500hp fuel pump, Turbosmart fuel pressure regulator, line-bored fuel rail, flowed GT-T injectors, braided lines, Allstar fuel filter, Haltech LS1 coils, TRD leads, TRD thermostat, HKS remote mount oil filter, HKS 19-row oil cooler, 13-row transmission oil cooler, 9-row power steering oil cooler, de-loomed, stainless catch cans, TRD engine mounts, Samco radiator hoses, braided lines, dry cell Optima Battery, Haltech E8 engine management system
Driveline: Factory GT-4 5-speed gearbox, TRD heavy-duty clutch, factory GT-4 diffs
Suspension/Brakes: TRD adjustable coil-over shocks/springs, factory GT-4 strut bars, TRD brake rotors, TRD pads, TRD racing brake fluid
Wheels/Tyres: 17-inch Volt rims, 225/45R17 Goodyear Eagle F1 street tyres, 225/45R16 Dunlop Formula R semi-slick track tyres
Exterior: TRD rear spoiler, SS-III projector headlights, clear side indicators, hand-cast front clear indictors,
Interior: Customised Racetech 4009HR seats, Momo Corse steering wheel, TRD gear knob, TRD short shift kit, custom white-faced 280kph Sparco dials, Auto Meter Phantom gauges, JVC head unit
Performance: Dyno Power — 250kW @ wheels

Clint Beaumont – Driver Profile

Age: 28
Location: Palmerston North
Occupation: Vehicle trader @ Toyota NZ
Dream car: Lexus IS F
Build time: 5 years
Thanks: Mum and dad, Catherine, Terry Robinson, Cole Robinson, Mike Riepen, Will and Sven @ TRD NZ, Lee Mahoney @ Snap-On Tools Palmerston North, Cameron Oldfield @ Wurth NZ, Scott @ Wiseman Panel Beaters Feilding, Aaron @ MSA Motorsport Appeal, Sandy @ Majestic Textiles

Words: Peter Kelly Photos: Adam Croy

This article is from NZ Performance Car issue 157. Click here to check it out.