The Honda K24 is the new hot ticket to major horsepower and reliability on the cheap, as you can pluck ’em straight from grandpa’s junker, throw some basic forged goodies in and boost them to the moon to enter the four-digit power club. That explains why Queenslander Brendon De Ruyter has slung one into his 1983 Toyota Celica to make a killer small-tyre drag-and-drive weapon.
First published in the August 2023 issue of Street Machine
Brendon was less interested in the Celica itself than in its potential as a base for what he wanted to build. “They’d have to be one of the ugliest cars out there, but the wheelbase was right for what I wanted, and the engine bay had enough room for the K24 and turbo gear,” he says. “So, I got it from my mate and turned it into what it is now.”
As the owner of the Auto Perfection workshop on the Gold Coast, Brendon had all the tools and know-how to get the entire driveline swap done. It wasn’t a simple job by any means, with the Sillycar copping a rear-end conversion to a nine-inch, as well as a whole new raised floor to accommodate both the diff and Powerglide transmission.
The front of the car was also renovated to accept the north-south-converted K24 Honda mill, which involved changing the original front panels for ones pinched from an AE82 Corolla. “The Celica one had all the garbage for the flip-up headlights there, and I wanted the room for more important things,” Brendon explains. We’d argue that it makes the front far more presentable, too.
Brendon also built the K24, and at Drag Challenge 2022-’23 earlier this year, it was running a standard block and crank, steel BoostLine rods and Wiseco pistons. The standard head was CNC ported and runs a pair of Drag Cartel sticks, and hanging off the side of it is a G42 turbo. Using a Haltech Nexus R5 and sucking E85, the combo made a best of 1012rwhp in that form at a whopping 40psi.
Testing before Drag Challenge yielded a best of 8.39@162mph, with Brendon’s good friend Dan Smith from Fab Lab behind the wheel, and Brendon then had the car shipped down to Victoria for our five-day torture test. He had to ditch his preferred 26×8.5 Mickey Thompson ET Radial Pros for 235-stamped versions (which use a different compound) to meet the rules of the Tuff Mounts 235 Blown class.
Brendon once again had Dan do the driving at Drag Challenge, and the car ran successfully all week both on road and track to finish second in Tuff Mounts 255 Blown behind Dom Pelle’s Sigma with a best of 8.38@164mph and a five day cumulative time of 40.014-seconds.
Once the car was back up north in Brendon’s workshop, he and Dan began changing up the Celica in the quest for sevens. First, he turned his attention to weight. “People look at it and think it’s a light car, but it really isn’t,” he says. “Even after we got it 200lb lighter, it still weighs 1250kg with Dan in it.”
The boys’ weight-shedding strategies included removing sound deadening, adding new Billet Specialities wheels, and the option of running the composite bonnet and bootlid panels that Brendon commissioned from Kapelke Kitcars.
The other ingredient in the go-faster recipe was more power, obviously. While the engine had been a solid unit, Brendon threw in some new BME aluminium rods to replace the old steel ones to help futureproof the K24. The G42 turbo and everything else was still good to rock, so the boys turned the thing up to 1130rwhp and then headed to Sydney Jamboree in May.
The hard work paid off, as the Celica ran a comfy trio of 7.8s during testing with Dan driving, the best being a 7.83@178mph on the softer ET Radial Pros. The boys were gunning to run 7.8s during racing later that weekend, but their campaign was cut short when the head gasket blew out. “We just found the limits of E85,” Brendon says. “With that much boost, I was worried it was going to happen, and it did.”
Replacing the head gasket was easy enough, but to prevent it from happening again, the Celica now runs methanol in full race trim. “We’re using FuelTech 520lb meth injectors and an Elixir electric pump for the methanol, and with the Nexus we can switch over to normal pump unleaded with the flick of a button without turning the car off,” says Brendon. “It’s like the good old days of switching between gas and petrol dual fuel, and Haltech reckons we’re the first to do it,” he says.
Drinking the good stuff, the K24 got turned up to a whopping 47psi on the dyno at 101 Motorsport, resulting in a peak of 1210rwhp, spinning to 9500rpm. “We’ve gained 300hp in the mid-range, which’ll make a big difference on the track,” says Brendon.
As for the Celica making a return to Drag Challenge, Brendon’s all for it. “We’ll bring it back,” he declares. “Dan will be driving again, and we’ll try and get that seven on those 235s.” He also hinted that there might be an even spicier engine in the works – watch this space!
BRENDON DE RUYTER
1983 TOYOTA CELICA
Class: Tuff Mounts 235 Blown
|ECU:||Haltech Nexus R5|
|Camshafts:||Drag Cartel 003.2|
|Fuel system:||Elixir 1380 pump, FuelTech injectors|
|Diff:||9in, 31-spline axles, 3.9:1 gears|
|WHEELS & TYRES|
|Rims:||Billet Specialties Comp 7; 15×3.5 (f), 15×10 (r)|
|Rubber:||Nankang 165/80R15 (f), Mickey Thompson 26×8.50R15(r)|
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