Q: What do you love about the Starlet?
A: I love the uniqueness of the Starlet, because no one has any idea what kind of car it is. It really is all about it being lightweight and rear-wheel drive with little power that makes it a ton of fun to drive. Also, I wanted something that I could take to the track that was reliable and cheaper on tires, gas, and brakes than my AWD turbocharged Subaru.
Q: How often does this car get driven?
A: I drive it as much as I can really. Although it is one of those cars when it is 110º outside, it isn't the best to drive, but I drive it whenever there is no salt or snow on the roads. It gets 36mpg, so it gets great gas mileage.
Q: What is unique to the Starlet, and what modifications have you done to the car?
A: What makes mine different from a lot of Starlets out there is that I went with a lot more handmade parts instead of something you can pick up off the shelf. Not that there are a whole lot of parts you can get for them, but I was going for things that I hadn't seen on a Starlet yet. I did the little bumperettes, the filler panels, the whole exhaust, the dash and is made from aluminum pieces that I cut out. I did the whole oil cooler setup myself, and I shaved the side markers and door mirrors. I made the whole shifter setup and the shifter itself, which I bent and welded together so it is closer to the steering wheel.
The biggest modification I did was the drivetrain. It was converting from 62hp carbureted engine to a 4age fuel injected engine which was a little bit of a challenge. Everything else is focused on the suspension with Tokico HTS shocks with Techno Toy tuning coilovers and camber plates. The wheels are Work Excels and are 13x6.5 which makes finding a performance 13" tire tough, it is darn near impossible.
Q: Describe your favorite drive in the Starlet:
A: I would say Big Cottonwood Canyon (in Salt Lake City, Utah) since it is closer to me, but East Canyon is my favorite. I just like a good combination of switchbacks and sweepers, which East Canyon has a lot of. It is a great road that doesn't have much traffic and is close by.
Q: With this car, is it a fling, or are you in it for the long haul?
A: I feel like I'm at a point with this car that I might be ready to let it go. I'll never be happy with any car, and I'll never be finished with any car—that is just the way I am—but I had a great time building the Starlet. Unless you're a millionaire, unfortunately you need to sell your current project to move on to the next. For my next project I'm looking to do an early S30 240Z ('70-'73) or maybe a Datsun 510.
Q: What other cars do you own?
A: I have a 2001 Lexus IS300, which is also kind of a daily driver. I also have a 1999 Subaru 2.5RS coupe. All of my cars are sort of daily drivers, and I don't really need one car to be a specific track car or weekend warrior car. All of my cars are built to be well rounded and be able to do as much as possible. I don't have the resources for all of those cars, so they all get used as much as possible.
Click the arrow below to see more photos of the Toyota Starlet.