JH Restorations

Windsor, Ontario View More Vehicles

1973 Toyota Celica – Tokyo Trans Am

Vehicle Quick Facts

Profile ID: 35740
Year: 1973
Make: Toyota
Model: Celica
Markets: Performance, Resto-Mod, Rod & Custom
Vehicle Type: Asian
Contact: JH Restorations



Vehicle Story

The idea behind this 73' Celica was to build a "What-if" car, "What if Toyota went Trans-Am in the 70's?" Nicknamed the Toyko Trans Am or TTA, it would be built like it would have been built in decades past, then forgotten about, left in a barn to one day be brought back to life, but with the handling and power of the modern era. To achieve this the entire suspension was removed and re-engineered, in house, to work in conjunction with a modern power plant in the form of a 5.7L Chevrolet LS engine mated to a CD009 Transmission originally fitted to a Nissan 370Z with a Ford 8.8 out back. With a 6th gear ratio of .794 and a 23.1” tall tire this is not going to be your typical street driver, the car revs high and comes out of the hole like a scared rabbit, and with its stiff clutch it's not for the faint of heart.

 The power plant of this project started out as a 5.3L Saab 9-7x LS-based engine which was bored and honed to a 5.7L. The rotating assembly utilizes a stock LS crank but has Eagle connecting rods and DSS Racing pistons hung on it. On top of the new larger bored block sits a set of Edelbrock E-CNC LS3 style Cylinder heads designed for the small bore engine. To open and close the valves an Edelbrock Rollin’ Thunder .631 lift camshaft was utilized in the block. Next in line the guys opted to use the Edelbrock Cross ram intake and dual 90 mm throttle bodies along with a Pro flow 4 Fuel injection unit to handle the task of the fuel and spark events. Holding the entire mill together is a set of ARP fasteners which include everything from the critical main and head bolts to the fine detail 12 Point stainless finishing hardware. A custom set of stainless steel exhaust headers were built by John Gleason from Glease Manufacturing and utilize a set of ultimate header investment cast flanges. The gasses of the engine expel through a full 2.5” stainless exhaust system. Keeping the engine cool the guys at JH called John from Dewitts Radiator to fabricate a radiator of their own design to flow the prestone coolant, the radiator utilizes a 2.5” thick aluminum core, with as much cooling capacity that could feasibly fit in the tight confines between the grill and engine, as well as the hood and factory frame rails. Attached to that radiator are 2, 12” high performance electric cooling fans from GC cooling, which pull the heat from the engine with ease.


 Mounted behind the updated power plant is a Nissan 6 Speed manual transmission from a Nissan 370Z. This was done utilizing a stage 2 Exedy clutch, lightweight flywheel and bellhousing assembly spec'd for a 2002 Camaro along with a transmission adapter kit to mate everything together. The length of the Nissan transmission presented a problem in that the shifter would have been mounted too far to the rear of the vehicle which meant a custom “remote” style shifter needed to be designed to give a more desirable shifter to steering wheel orientation. The guys at JH even fitted the shifter with a trick cable activated reverse lockout feature. To handle the power from the transmission the guys opted for a QA1 2.25” REV Series Carbon Fiber Driveshaft, Keeping with the lightweight race inspired theme.

In order to get the engine in the car a new front suspension was designed around the factory mounting point of the original front crossmember. To do this the car was 3D scanned by ACL Designs, this gave the guys a computer model to work off of and virtually build the suspension with a 3D model of the engine in place helping speed up the build and see potential fitment concerns. The new design eliminated the struts and now features a double arm front suspension centered around a set of Wilwood Pro Spindles. The lower control arms have been engineered with a larger steering angle in mind for the drift car look the team was after. The front suspension also utilizes a custom length Flaming River manual rack and pinion unit and with a simple steering arm change the car could go from street driver to drift car with ease. For packaging purposes the upper control arm was designed to accept a set of QA1 High travel coil overs. For slowing down the car the is equipped with 11” Wilwood disc brakes with Forged 4 piston calipers powder coated in a custom accent colour which matches the engine.


In the back the original suspension was also removed in favor of a Ford 8.8 posi rear axle with 3.73 gears, which originally called a Ford Explorer home. A custom Parallel 4 link was designed around its new axle and 2 of the original suspension points. In order to maximize strength and clearance for other vital components like the larger trunk mounted fuel tank and exhaust, a complete redesign was required. A set of Custom colored Wilwood calipers are also fitted to the narrowed rear axle and handle traditional braking as well as a set connected to a locking hydraulic handbrake mounted in the cabin.


As you can imagine with all of the newly fitted larger components there was extensive fabrication that had to take place in the Engine compartment, interior cabin and trunk area. The size of the driveline required the Crew at JH Restorations to remove the original firewall and fabricate a new one 2.5” rearward in the vehicle, fabricate a new transmission tunnel as well as the area above the rear differential. All these changes also affect driver controls such as pedals and steering wheel placement in the car. With all these modifications the seat location was unchanged, although the seat finds itself in the fully rearward position most of the time.


That’s not to say the interior has been overlooked, just the opposite is true. Keeping with the 1970's authenticity required, perfect textiles with the proper look and feel were chosen. When looking at the interior, starting at the dashboard you will find premium material from Relicate Leather and craftsmanship from the crew at JH Restorations and Vlad Nesic of Nesic Upholstery in Chatham, Ontario. The original dashboard has been leather wrapped and top stitched matching exterior accent colours. When the driver looks down he will be looking past a Alkantara Wrapped Renown Steering wheel and will be able to monitor the vitals and speed of the car through a set of custom Designed Dakota Digital gauges, built to mimic the originals but are updated with new electronics and give a little supercar flare. A yellow tachometer calls up visions of some modern day Ferraris. To the right of the steering wheel on top of the oversized transmission tunnel sits the Relay Shifter for grabbing gears and one more handle to the right is a Hydraulic handbrake with a hockey tape grip, a call out to being “Remade In Canada” the JH Restorations tagline, A fact that everyone at JH Restorations is extremely proud of. Both the shifter and handle are custom billet pieces from Bowler Performance Transmissions. The brake and clutch pedals in the car are a set of wilwood racing pedals fitted with Clayton machine works pedal pads with a matching accelerator pedal pulling on the twin throttle body cables from Lokar. The seating and door panels have also been updated by removing the old brown velour and cracked vinyl, and replacing it with black leather and a loud Westfalia Plaid pattern. Carpeting in the car is minimized by only lining only the floor areas with ACC Daytona Weave carpet, whereas the tunnel and inner rocker panels have been painted, color matched to the exterior of the car adding a distinct look to the interior. With the minimal amount of carpeting to deaden sound and heat intrusion, the crew utilized Dynamat in areas that are covered with carpet or firewall coverings and a spray on heat and sound barrier was applied to the underside of the floor. Behind the driver sits a roll bar that is bent up for this car and is powder coated in a wrinkle finish. The roll bar serves multiple purposes, for one it mounts the  SeatBelt Planet 4 point harnesses. The bar also acts as a chassis stiffener tying the car together side to side and into the rear frame rails. Lastly it acts as impact protection in the event of an unfortunate track day mishap. On the outside much of the original paint on the body was left intact in order to retain its aged look. To protect the original paint, a coat of BASF Matte clear was applied to seal the surface and protect against further deterioration. The guys opted to install a set of metal fender flares in order to cover up the wide tires and give the car a more traditional JDM look. To add some flair to the car a retro style stripe package was chosen from several designs by Chris Benotto Designs and was hand painted on to the car by Matt at Brightworks Auto Art. The stripe package includes a Retro Toyota Door stripe, Fender logos featuring the a vintage looking JH Logo, roof panel name plates and Canadian flag for Owner/Driver, Kevin and of course retro styled ¼ panel and hood logos featuring the original 1970 Edelbrock logo which was used to honor the placement of the vehicle in their 2019 SEMA booth. Also featured on the car with discrete clear vinyl are all the other partners JH and Kevin worked with on the build. To add to the racecar look and feel on the outside of the car, it is fitted with a new chin spoiler, rear diffuser and deck lid spoiler with a clear plexiglass extension, rounding out that look is a set of Retro Mini Light style American Racing Silverstone Wheels wrapped in DOT competition Toyo R888R Tires Designed for high performance and track days.


As most SEMA cars disappear after their debut, the Celica has gone a different path. After the show, it was shipped to Edelbrock in California for a small media tour. Then when Covid19 happened, the little Celica was stuck in a lonely warehouse, luckily to have the cobwebs blown off for a Road & Track story in 2020. The car was shipped back home after 8 months, where it was shown at local events and went to many internet car shows during 2021 while the world was still shutdown. As restrictions lifted the car could be out on the open road.  In 2022 it showed at Goodguys Iowa and Columbus, Holley LSFest East, SEMA Garage Detroit grand opening, PRI show in Indianapolis and got some track time at the Japanese Classic Car Track Day at Toronto Motorsports Park. The TTA also made history as the first winner of the Hot Wheels Legends Tour in Canada, going against the world, to show what Canada has for car culture. Numerous newspaper articles and interviews including 2 online tournaments judged by Hot Wheels designers and automotive experts, chose the Celica as one of the top 10 cars in the World Wide Hot Wheels Legends Tour! Sadly, due to some stiff competition, we didn't get a Hot Wheels model made but to understand the reach this car has, a Malaysian based model car company payed tribute to the Celica by making a diecast model of the TTA that we found by accident, which even included the plaid seats.


With 2023 on the horizon,  the TTA is still on tour. Heading to the Toronto International Autoshow in the Hot Wheels booth and being shown with BASF at Toronto Motorama before coming home to get cleaned up for its next adventure. Who knows whats next for this quirky rocket, but no matter where it goes, it will be representing the country, showing them what Remade in Canada means.

Tech Sheet