The second generation of Toyota’s supermini was an understated car. Up against the likes of the Austin Metro, Renault 5, Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, the little Starlet faced some serious competition back in the late 70’s & early 80’s. One such example is making a comeback; thanks to Quaife enthusiast Dan Thorne…
The 1978-1984 Toyota Starlet arrived at a time when the British motor industry was in dire need of rescue. With two years to go until the Austin Metro arrived in 1980, (referred to as ‘The British Car to Beat the World‘), the ’78 Starlet P60 was one of a number of Japanese imports that threatened the once dominant local car industry. It was reliable, spacious and good value after all, and was also the first Toyota passenger car to utilise rack-and-pinion steering.
More sporting variants of the 2nd generation Starlet were limited to the fuel injected 4K-E-engined Si & Sprint. With European hot hatch fan well catered for by the likes of the MG Metro, Ford Fiesta XR2 and Renault 5 Alpine/Gordini, the Starlet had its work cut out. Fast forward to 2018, and one enthusiast has decided to put this right by developing a race prepared version…
Dan Thorne purchased his totally standard Starlet P60 in 2016 and began the transformation by ripping out the car’s interior. Keeping the car as light as possible is always a benefit when it comes to performance; something that Lotus would happily agree upon.
Out came Toyota’s engine and in went a Ford RS2000 powerplant. Although a controversial move, Dan managed to get the engine bored to 2.2-litres which went perfectly with the ported and polished head, race-spec cam profiles, 48mm throttle body, dry sump system and a 9,000rpm limit, all controlled by a Link G4+ Atom ECU. This has resulted in the Starlet producing an amazing 250bhp! With a kerb weight of 800kg, it’s certainly earned its place on the racetrack.
As any sensible car enthusiast will confirm, having a powerful engine with standard drivetrain components will likely end in tears. Such a set-up wouldn’t be suited to the racetrack either. Dan needed components that would ensure the car was able to put down power effectively.
The choice of many retro Ford enthusiasts is the Blue Oval’s Type 9 Gearbox. After purchasing such a transmission, (a unit that was originally found in the fleet-favourite Sierra), Dan sent it to Quaife. His choice was the QKE15Z Ford Sierra (Type 9) 5-Speed Heavy Duty Synchromesh Gearkit. Featuring straight cut, close ratio gears, the gearkit included a Quaife mainshaft, all of which tallied perfectly to the recommended maximum power rating of 250bhp. Finally, an LSD was fitted to the vehicle’s Ford Atlas axle.
Dan’s Starlet had just 24k miles on the clock when he made the purchase. It was in tip-top condition given the vehicle’s age; the bodywork needed no welding. He set about the exterior bodywork, his first task to successfully house the 15” by 10” Image wheels; a challenge under such a narrow chassis. This was accomplished with the help of the Mike Bamber TRD body kit, custom built to fit the P60. The car has been finished in eye-catching Kawasaki Green; painted and prepped by Pristine Bodyworks of Southend.
As for the inside, Pro Alloy manufactured custom fuel tanks, dry sump tanks, breather system, coolant pipes and dashboard. Corbeau seats are fitted, with diamond stitched Luke harnesses keeping Dan locked firmly in place.
Now this extensive restoration and modification project has reached this stage, Dan is enjoying the fruits of his labours; however, things rarely stay settled for long. Already Dan is considering a Quaife sequential!
We look forward to seeing what’s next in this impressive project…
Quaife QKE15Z Ford Sierra (Type 9) 5-Speed Heavy Duty Synchromesh Gearkit
- Straight cut, close ratio gears
- Layshaft assembled using separate gears
- Includes Quaife mainshaft
- Choice of input length shaft
- Needle roller bearings support free running gears
- Maximum recommended power – 250bhp
- Optional alloy case, gear lever, steel baulk rings and heavy duty operating block available
- Alternative ratios available
- Helical gears available
- Available as fully assembled gearbox, (donor required)
- Optional Quaife ATB Differential & Tran-X LSD available
- £1,415.00 + VAT & Shipping
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
2.040 1.540 1.210 1.000 0.870
2.200 1.690 0.930