Feature: 1982 Toyota Starlet

A Treasured Antiquity

JJ’s 1982 Toyota Starlet KP61 4ag Turbo

Words: Mark Waterman
Photos: Ginash George (Synth19 Photos)

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For some of us, certain cars hold a special place in our hearts. We own one, and as soon as it is gone, we are driven to find another one. For JJ it is the Toyota Starlet. His first introduction in to the automotive world came when he was living in the Philippines when he was a boy. There, his mom and uncle raced modified Corollas. With a family like that, getting into the modifying and racing scene was nearly impossible to avoid.

After moving with his family to the US and building other cars such as a 3000GT, Miata, and some Civics, and even a WRX wagon for his former drag racer wife who refused to drive a minivan or SUV after having children. With a little prodding from his brother David, JJ decided to go back to a car from his childhood with the KP61 Starlet; the only Starlet Toyota sold in the US. Currently he is on his third Starlet after receiving offers too good to pass up to sell the first two. After he sold his second KP61 to be shipped to Japan, the opportunity presented it self to purchase this car from his friend which had been spending its days delivering pizza. Since JJ had been helping his friend modify the car and the car was even cleaner then the one he had just sold off, the deal was a no brainer to him. While the KP61 normally came with the 4K motor, a 1.3L I-4 producing 65 hp and 72 ft*lb of torque, the motor that was in the car was a built 3K 1.2L I-4 with a Weber 45 carburetor. This setup was not enough for JJ’s needs and the heart was swapped out for 4AGE (AE86) motor with individual throttle bodies. Soon, this motor was removed from the car in favor of a 4AGZE supercharged motor out of a ’87 MR2. Sadly this motor suffered from rod knock and the car underwent a fourth and final (for now) transplant in the form of another 4AGZE. This time however the supercharger was dumped for a turbo setup. A set of Arias pistons is used for squishing the air/fuel mixture. The turbo is a Garret GT28 ball bearing turbo receiving the exhaust gases from a HKS turbo manifold to compress the incoming air and sent through a custom exhaust set up terminating with a 5Zigen muffler. On top of the motor is a set of HKS 264/272 bump sticks being rotated by a set of Tomei adjustable cam gears. Providing the go juice for the motor is a custom setup consisting of a Bosch external fuel pump, RC 550 injectors and an AEM stand alone ECU keeping everything running smoothly. To free up room in the already tight engine bay, the standard distributor was removed and cleverly replaced with a direct ignition setup from an SR20DET motor. The limited engine bay room also provided a challenge fitting all the components for keeping the motor, oil, and the incoming air cool. A Koyo radiator that normally is for a Volvo was used and a small, custom setup for the front mount and oil cooler radiator were made to fit into the front bumper.

AE86 parts have been incorporated into the Starlet’s braking and suspension systems. Up front, parts from an AE86 big brake kit are applied with a Tokico Illumina 5 way adjustable coil over kit and a Cisco camber kit keeping the wheels aligned correctly. IN the back, an AE86 rear end was customized to fit with its adjustable four link suspension
and 3T coil overs.   JJ swaps between two classic wheels sets- Mosport’s and  SSR Reverse Mesh, wrapped in Sumitomo Tires. Getting the power from the motor to the ground is accomplished by way of a racing clutch, Toyota T50 5-speed transmission, a custom drive shaft, and the power is split by the AE86 differential with an LSD and 4.10 ring and pinion inside. Shifting is done with a short throw shifter topped with a TRD shifter. Before its current look, the Starlet once had some small fender flares, but the added power from the turbo required that wider tires be fit on the car. A TRD N2 wide body kit was fit the bill perfectly for housing the extra rubber. This did require some customization on the flares so the car could be lowered to the desired height and modifying the location of the gas cover. Using after some cutting, welding, and using a Kawasaki gas cap and cover, a smooth and functional look was achieved with the kit. To top it off, the car was repainted in Speed Way Blue which is a color choice on the TRD Tacoma pickup and new weather strips were installed all around the car. Some JDM goodies were used for the tail lights and JDM side mirrors are mounted on the front fenders. The insides of the car also received the same care with the goal to be to recreate the interiors JJ used to see at meets when he was younger. To do this the stock seats replaced with a set of Recaro NJoy seats and a Tom’s Racing harness setup to keep his butt firmly plated in the seat. New carpet and a custom headliner were combined with a black interior that was in near perfect condition for a flawless look inside. To keep the car pointed in the correct direction, a Momo steering wheel is used; while an HKS boost gauge and VDO oil pressure gauge keep tabs on the turbo setup. HKS was also tapped for the manual boost controller and turbo timer.

This Starlet has all the components needed to be functional on the street and the track, and JJ is not afraid take the car racing. Along with road racing, the car has also seen its fair share of slalom racing, drifting and even taken out on the ice for some ice racing. Even with the other cars in his garage, this Starlet remains his crown jewel. Even with just a cursory glance at the car, it’s easy to see that he has something very special and a car to be very proud of and is thankful for the help and support from his wife and brother.

1982 Toyota Starlet KP61 4ag Turbo

4AGZE Block
Water pump
Short throw Shifter Ae86
Racing Clutch
Arias over sized pistons (81.5)
Cusco tranny Mount
RC 550cc injectors
HKS 264/272 cam shafts
Tomei adjustable cam gear
HKS turbo manifold *
Garret GT28 ball bearing turbine
Custom down pipe
HKS Mushroom air cleaner
Cusco engine mounts
Oil filter relocation kit
Setrab 10 rows oil cooler
Front mounted intercooler
KOYO 3 row racing radiator
TRD radiator cap
TRD oil filter

Momo steering wheel
TRD shift knob
Njoy Recaro seats
Tom’s Racing harness
HKS boost gauge
HKS turbo timer
HKS boost controller (manual)
VDO oil pressure gauge
Autopower roll bar
Brand new head liner
Brand new carpet
Near perfect black interior

TRD Wide body N2 kit
JDM fender mounted mirrors
JDM Rear tail lights
Hella H4 head light conversion
JDM Starlet grille
Mosport 13×7 / Compomotive 13×7.5 / SSR reverse mesh 7 and 7.5 15inch
Sumitomo Tires 185/60/R13
New weather strips all around

–Front Suspension–
AE86 GTS big brake conversion/short stroke
Tokiko Illumina 5 way adjustable (AW11)
Ground control coil over kit 450lb/in springs
Cusco camber kit / RCA
Cusco OS strut bar for KP61

–Rear Suspension–
T3 AGX/coilover kit 350lb spring
Custom Adjustable 4 Links

T50 Transmission
Custom Drive Shaft
AE86 Kouki Rear Differential with LSD
4.10 Ring/Pinion

SS Brake lines
AE86 front and rear calipers
Hawk Racing brake pads all around

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5 comments to Feature: 1982 Toyota Starlet

  • Seymour

    Hi,my name is Seymour…i’m Filipino,i just wanna ask you what exactly is the year and model of the car that you used to buy your Front suspension,that will fit perfectly to my 1982 toyota starlet??? been a problem for me.do you have to do some modification on the front end or not??? can you pls. tell me what to do to fix my Front end as well as my rear end suspension.and what kind of rear end to i have to use.PS. i do have a rear end got it from a 85-87 GTS corolla w/LSD,do i have to get reed of the hangers for the shocks or what??going crazy figuring out PLS>>>>HELP….


  • Seymour

    I’m not crazy about the Engine for now co’z my 4KC still runs good.only after about the Front and Back suspension as well as my Rear End set-up for feature 4age(20Valves) Black top Engine.Pls. help….

    Salamat Uli,

  • jj

    There are 2-3 options that you can do on the front suspension , you can get the spindles of a ke26 corolla (for bigger brakes) and replace the shock barrel from a ae86 so you can real lower it by usin a coil over set up . the other one is buying a coil over set up from technotoytuning.com and lastly you can buy trd or after market springs from yahoo japan but will cost you an arm and a leg to ship, on the rear you can use the gts rear end like mine and get a 4 link from technotoytuning or from the gts itself , but there are 2 problems will occur . the gts is 2-3 inches wider than the stock starlet differential so you may require to do a short flare or have someone cut the diffferential 2 inches and shim the axle inside to shorten it . Others also uses a toyota van (like a hi ace or lite ace) which is about the right size but will be dificult to find lsd. or the last is buy some trd springs and lsd from yahoo Japan

  • […] The last car we are including in this Part 1 is Jay Jay’s super clean KP61 ’82 Starlet. While most people simply didn’t know the work that was put into this car, I was smitten at first site. It reminded me of the 80’s/ early 90’s style found in Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands. The list goes on and on but it was interesting to note that before Jay Jay began his project, the car was purchased from someone who used it to deliver pizza. Fast-forward to today, it shines in its Speedway blue from the modern TRD Tacoma.  Staying true to the Toyota roots, the KP61 sports a 4AGZE out of the first generation MR2 but instead of keeping the supercharged setup, he decided to out with a turbo setup. The TRD N2 widebody kit gives the little car some girth and the Starsharks give an updated look. The period correct Solex Hi-Tech locks give and added detail. Before all the electronic alarms and GPS homing devices, these locks prevent thieves from stealing your prized possessions. If you couldn’t tell, this was my favorite of the entire show. For detailed information check out this write-up by our friends from JDM Chicago. […]

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