Mandated JDM: John's 22RE 1973 Toyota Celica

Article and Photography by Brian Bassard.

Those who are new to the automotive scene may think the cleanest of cars are created only by master builders and enthusiasts working in the automotive field. If you’re one of those people, then our good friend and San Francisco native, John Delaughter, will prove you wrong with his backyard-built, daily-driven 1973 Toyota Celica. John’s heart for classic Japanese domestic market (JDM) automobiles has led him to visit Japan four times, learn Japanese, and create one of the most legitimate of builds. It’s a build that doesn’t just show-off an affinity for style and speed, but a true love of the Modified Lifestyle.

Unlike some of us, it wasn’t an interaction with the latest racing video game, or over-the-top movie series, that started John’s obsession. He was inspired by a friend who mentored him in all things modified for six months before the purchase of his first car. His mentor and friend, Esteban, was (and still is) a long-time JDM enthusiast going back to when John was in high school. Esteban owned a gorgeous 1973 Toyota Celica.

As a first-time car owner with a definitive vision, John came up with a few uncompromising requirements for his first build. The vehicle had to be rear-wheel drive, it had to be a sports car, and it absolutely had to be JDM. Because his family had owned Toyota automobiles exclusively during his childhood, he had a soft spot for the legendary Japanese automaker. Despite spending countless hours scouring Craigslist, John purchased his mentor’s Celica. After six-months of research, he had fallen even more in love with the idea of owning the Celica. He blames that on his mentor for constantly driving him around whenever they hung out together. That car became all he could think about. In John’s own words, "That’s kind of the start of my love affair with this car.”

John had developed a passion for performance driving, but didn’t want to own a high-maintenance vehicle, so, after more tedious research, he decided to perform an engine upgrade. After great deliberation, he decided the bulletproof Toyota 22RE engine was a viable candidate. Before long, he found himself sending his first love to Performance Options in Oakland, California, a shop known for specializing in older cars like the Celica. The 22RE was taken from a 1985 Toyota Celica. This particular engine, which is also found in some early Toyota pickups, is praised for its reliability, simplicity, gas mileage, and torque. Due to similarities between the two vehicles, only minor modification to the engine and chassis perches was necessary. With the 22RE in place, John then freed-up some extra horses by adding a Doug Thorley exhaust header, an Engnbldr 270 camshaft, and opened up the exhaust system with two-and-a quarter inch pipe. He also had the cylinder head ported and polished to increase flow.

The next step for this novice builder was to find a reliable transmission. It had to be compatible with the later model 22RE engine, and the old-school Celica. Since Toyota has used the same bolt pattern and dimensions for a decade, he didn’t have to look too far. Luckily, the first generation Celica’s big brother, the MKIII Supra, came equipped with the perfect transmission: a W58, five-speed manual. Although Supra owners know the W58 stock tranny isn’t ideal for a highly boosted vehicle, it’s a perfect candidate for John, as it will take a beating, and it’s smooth enough for daily operation.

In order to handle the demands of greater torque and higher speeds, John knew he needed to equip the Celica with an adequate suspension setup. To obtain an acceptable ride height and a competitive stance, John chose a set of Eibach lowering springs and mated those with tried and tested KYB shocks. For increased stability, he added a T3 lateral rod and a set of Techno Toy Tuning roll center adjusters. He loves the ride quality, as well as the feedback and response that this setup provides. He also fitted the car with 15x8 Bart racing wheels, with an offset of +38 in the front and +63 in the rear, and 195/50R15 Yokohama S Drive tires.

Inside, you’ll see a smooth blend of old-school and new. In the front is a tasteful set of Mitsubishi Starion seats, which keep the car looking retro, paired with a D1 Spec steering wheel he picked up on one of his visits to Japan. The shift knob was replaced by a weighted GReddy. As for future plans, he wants to do a rear-seat delete, replace the front seats with Bride racing seats with Takata safety harnesses, and add a full roll cage.

Looking at the exterior, the first thing you notice is the stellar World Rally Blue paint job that covers the car. John tells us that, at the time, he was inspired by the Subaru STI, thinking the color would be more fitting than "Porta-Potty Blue.” He thought right. The car was widened with some skillful fiberglass work on the fenders, giving it a sexy and aggressive look that makes you think it should have been standard from the factory. As you can see, he also improved the aerodynamics of the vehicle with TRD spoilers front and rear, and upgraded the taillights using those from the JDM TA22 Celica.

Here at Revvolution, as much as we love seeing modified works of art on wheels, it really is all about the community and lifestyle it represents. When we interviewed John, he continuously took the spotlight off himself and redirected it onto the people who helped him get to this point. He is grateful for his friends, like Esteban, who first got him hooked, and another friend, Ray, who helped with many of his technical hurdles. Without Joey at Performance Options,, and Joel at Toysport, he says this build could not have been completed. Last but not least, he is grateful for his friends and family who have "put up” with his addiction. Getting to know John, we can see that he’s a perfect representation of what we like to see: passion inspired by passion. Through people like John, the Modified Lifestyle will continue to be passed down. In time, he too, will mentor and inspire someone else as they begin their ModLife.

Build at a Glance

Engine Performance
22re Swap
Mild Port and Polish
Doug Thorley Header
270 Engnbldr Cam
EGR and Emissions Delete
Megan Fuel Pressure Regulator
Custom Short Ram Intake
2.25 Inch Exhaust
Dynamax Muffler
Catalytic Converter delete
A/C Delete
Tom’s Racing Oil Cap
W58 Swap

Eibach Pro Kit
KYB Shocks
Techno Toy Tuning Lateral Rod
Techno Toy Tuning RCAs
1975 Celica Crossmember

Front - Bart Racing Wheels 15x8 -38 offset
Rear- Bart Racing Wheels 15x8 -63 offset
Yokohama S Drives 195/50/15

World Rally Blue Paint Job
Fiberglass Widebody
TRD Chin Spoiler
TRD One Piece Spoiler
TA22 Taillights
Metal Rear Louvers

Mitsubishi Starion Seats
Boss Hub Kit
D1 Spec Steering Wheel
Actron Digital Tach


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Brian Bassard (B_Rad)

Photography. Automotive. Adventure. These are the things that fuel my passion and way of living. From an early age, I have been possessed by an unbiased passion for anything that included wheels and an engine and of course, the faster the better. By chance of luck, I fell into photography through my close friends and have used my camera as a passport into the world of the Modified Lifestyle.

Write a CommentCOMMENTS
J.J. LASNE7/17/2015

All very nice but he should blur the license plate.