Empty roads, a clear sky, and a slight cold spring morning breeze - what better time could there be to go for an early morning highway run on a weekend? But not just with any ordinary car.
How about the legendary A80 Supra's legendary cousin - a 6th gen Toyota Celica GT4? A special edition rally car designed to go full throttle on gravel, mud, and literally any road condition one can put it in!
It might feel odd to take a homologated rally car out for a proper run on the tarmac but the 1995 Celica GT4 is not bad on the road either. Rather, the turbocharged engine and the all-wheel-drive system makes it really fun to drive.
The 5.5 seconds 0-100 kmph time of this Celica might not seem to be jaw droppingly impressive for today's standards, by any means, but such figures were definitely astonishing for the petrolheads back in the nineties when such units could be bought from any local Japanese dealership.
The Celica being featured this week was not this pristine and fresh all throughout its life. Rather, it was left to collect dust and eventually die out until Emon Shah decided to resurrect it and give it a second chance in life back in late 2019.
It was not an easy job for him though; the GT4 was in need of a complete makeover and Emon had to import many parts all the way from Japan.
After making the GT4 go through a complete restoration, Emon also added some aftermarket parts to it. His first proper modification was replacing the stock GT4 exhaust with an Apexi N1 exhaust system.
But was it worth the hassle and sleepless nights needed to make the car running again? I asked Emon sitting beside him during the morning run as he hustled through the slow moving morning traffic.
He said, "The Celica drives smooth like butter. The car feels like it has just been brought straight out of a dealership."
Making the Celica look and drive as smooth as it does currently was not an easy task. According to Emon, getting everything right and making it factory perfect was his biggest challenge with the Celica till date.
However, the final execution is spot on! Both in terms of visual aesthetics as well as performance. The Celica GT4 is painted with a custom one-of-one shade of pearl white and sits on a set of 17-inch Winning Street 7 Spoke wheels wrapped in Michelin tyres.
Besides the Celica, Emon also owns a EP82 Toyota Starlet GT. He used to own several other 90s Japanese sports cars mostly being Toyotas such as another Starlet with a 2zz under the hood and a 2zz powered Toyota Corolla 100 as well.
"I cannot choose between the Starlet and the Celica," said Emon when asked which car he likes most among the ones he drives. "Both the cars hold separate chambers of my heart and if I was asked to choose one, I do not think I could."
While the factory perfect Celica might just be the ideal fun car for Emon at the moment, he plans to chase more speed and power.
"The Celica will receive a straight pipe very soon," Emon said as he was discussing his future plans with the Celica, "along with that, I am also getting a titanium exhaust setup, blow off valve, manual boost controller, coilovers, a genuine Nardi steering wheel, and finally, a proper tune. I want the car to settle at about 400 brake horsepower!"
It is truly astonishing to come across a genuine GT4 Celica in Bangladesh or any part of the world. It is no less than spotting an unicorn these days.
Only 2500 examples of these Celica GT4 with the iconic 3sgte engine and all-wheel-drivetrain were ever made by Toyota and that too as a requirement to participate in the Group A Rally and these are undoubtedly rarer than spotting a Supra or a GTR these days.
While Toyota ended the Celica line up with the 7th generation which turned out to be a disappointment, the newly released GR Yaris might just be the perfect successor of this GT4.
Whatever it is, the GT4 will remain a special car from the golden era of JDM cars and should bring a smile to the face every time the driver or passenger sitting beside will remember the heritage this understated legend of a car holds!