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Car Projects - A Brief History 

I have always been interested in cars and have wanted to build one from scratch since High School. The reality was that I never had the opportunity as I joined the Navy at 18 and spent the next 8 years moving around an awful lot, both within New Zealand and overseas. 

The cars I owned during that period were generally unmodified aside from a stereo installation  and were generally very average cars that I drove very high mileages in. As a result I tended to spend a lot of money keeping the damn things going. During this period I did virtually all the repairs myself, including a number of head gasket changes, brake rebuilds etc. 

One thing that really depressed me was the unreliability of Ford Pushrod engines. They seemed to be forever blowing head gaskets or needing something done. I even had one reconditioned but after about 18 months use it was showing signs of needing another rebuild. 

I do not consider that I drive cars hard. Certainly the 4AGEs I have owned have been given a far harder time than my pushrods ever got  and yet I have not had any troubles with them at all. 

So, in 1991 I decided it was time to build the car I have always wanted and so committed myself by paying the deposit on the Leitch, a NZ built Lotus 7 kit. In March 1992 I had been reading the 'Trade and Exchange' newspaper and spotted an advert that led to the purchase of a complete 1983 AE 86 Levin GT-V as a write off. I stripped the car for parts, and used the engine etc for the Leitch. I then headed off overseas with work again for five months, and so didn't actually take delivery of the kit until September 1992. Following a pretty huge effort I had the car on the road three months later. 

In 1994 I repowered the Leitch with the 20 valve, and all was well until I got the itch to do another car. I was not in the position to do so at the time as I was undertaking two years full time university study, but managed to help out with the build of another 20 valve Lotus 7 replica, which was almost as good as having my own project. 

In late 1996 I finished my studies and returned to Auckland. I also decided it was time to undertake a car project of y own. I have wanted to build a hot rod 1933 Ford Woodie station wagon since 1991, but realised the time was still not quite right yet. The idea of a Ford 105E Anglia with some sort of 4AGE in it was appealing. I figured I could use it  as a run about vehicle and also go car club level racing in it. A couple of weeks later I spied an advert for a written of 4AGZE powered Trueno. I bought the car, and that kicked off the Anglia project. 

Over the next two years I bought a variety of cars and wrecks to supply parts for the Anglia, and learnt a lot more about Toyotas and shoe-horning etc. Through a series of events involving swapping a 2TGEU into a friend's KP 61 Starlet I ended up with a 3TGTEU turbo 1800 engine and complete wiring harness sitting under the bench in the 'come in handy' pile. 

About this time I started planning to build a house, which was going to take up the bulk of my time in the near future. We needed a hack to tow trailers etc so I built a beater out of two TA-45 Celicas that had been lying derelict near where I lived. I got one free for removal and the other for $50. It was pretty ugly but did the job. I turned that car eventually into parts in December 1998 - it still went well, but was surplus to requirements and we needed some parts for various other projects. 

One day in early 1998 I noticed a complete TA-63 Celica Turbo in the Trade and Exchange for $115 US equivalent - it had a dead engine and was very rusty. Otherwise the car was in excellent condition, so I bought it, put the spare engine in and taught myself how to weld and do body repairs. We used the Celica for a year or so as run about, and sold it mid 1999 as it was surplus to requirements. 

I ended up selling the Anglia project off as parts Christmas 1998 as I was about to head to sea in early 1999 for two years more or less, which would have delayed the project by a similar length of time. I figured once I came back from the job on the Ship (my current job) I would be about ready to start on the Woodie, so the Anglia had to go. 

I sold the Anglia and then got quite depressed because I had nothing to focus on - even though progress on the Anglia had been non-existent for the past 12 months, having it sitting there meant that at least I had a project. 

I found a damaged Supra Turbo for sale at the auctions in January 1999 and after I did some research on it I decided it the suspension etc would make a good basis for the Woodie.  Parked next to the Supra at the auction was the AE 86 Corolla GT that I bought instead as it was a better option,  and hence the current project. 

Comes back to my argument of being able to pounce when the opportunity arises. 

This section covers these projects in more detail. 

Next: My Leitch Super Sprint Lotus 7 Replica 

 
 


Copyright © 2000 SpeedTECH Last modified: January 23, 2000