Above & Beyond: Alfonso Octaviano’s 1975 Toyota Celica
There are few experiences as amazing as stepping into a new car. Every sense is stimulated by the freshest in ICE technologies, the sounds of the newest engines, and that oh-so-distinctive, irreplicable new car smell. The cars that are being made today are faster, better-appointed, and more efficient than ever. And yet, the vintage scene is larger than it’s ever been before. Classic muscle car enthusiasts are currently spending tens of thousands of dollars creating Pro-Touring cars out of 35 year old Detroit iron, import fans are hunting down seemingly forgotten Japanese performance models, and wheel companies are re-releasing wheels that five years ago would have been easily found in a junkyard. Every time the scene delivers an unworldly 1000 HP GTR or LF-A, a mint condition Hakosuka or 2000GT rises up from the annals of history to remind us that newer doesn’t exactly mean better.
The tuning culture around most of these vintage JDM rides has remained relatively mild. Many owners have placed their focus on maintenance and preservation rather than an all out transformation. This mindset assumedly stems from several key factors: first, when most people have never seen a car prior to said model, the only modifications needed to illicit a positive response is a good drop and a well preserved, period-correct set of wheels. Additionally, most of these cars don’t have parts ready for purchase on websites or forums. Suspensions have to be fabricated or adapted, body work has to be sourced from out-of-country distributors, and engine tuning requires a mostly forgotten understanding of carburetation. There are, however, those that push through these challenges. Alfonso Octaviano didn’t settle for the “drop and wheels” mentality, but rather built a full-fledged, period-correct boso-inspired Toyota Celica.
Alfonso’s Celica build draws a perfect line between the concours d’elegance mentality of strict preservation and the Pro-Touring trend of stuffing modern machinery into vintage metal. This is a car that has been thoroughly modified from the shell up, but also retains a healthy respect for it’s native era. Looking like a car that could have existed in the mid-70′s, this Toyota is not a bastardized re-imagination of nostalgia; and that was very much on purpose. Alfonso chose to give the car a stock 2T-E that has been upgraded with a litany of OEM, aftermarket, and self-fabricated modifications. The result is a car that allows the owner to enjoy track days (circuit and drag) and the occasional wet skid pan drift.
In these crazy times where readers can find dozens of car features a day, being different is decidedly key. This fact alone is why it seems that every Civic you see nowadays has a full interior, a shaved bay, an engine swap, and rare wheels but a 30 year old Mercedes diesel can get a a feature with a hacked up suspension and raggedy BBS rollers. We have developed such a short attention span as consumers that we crave novelty; and that fix usually last for a few hours if we’re lucky. But these cars deserve more than that. While there is value and necessity in preservation and moderation, one must remember that these cars are still in the hands of tuners. Despite our empty promises, we are usually incapable of just riding showroom stock for long. Alfonso took a car that most of us would have fallen in love with sight unseen, and went above and beyond, transforming it into a period-correct, functional piece of vintage Japanese muscle. Call me crazy, but I’ll take that over “new car scent” any day.
Editor: Andy Carter