Before you start sending abusive emails about why SM is talking about small Japanese cars, hear me out – Matthew Berry’s Toyota Starlet isn’t your usual Japanese appliance. For a start, the car’s got eight cylinders, it’s just that they’re kind of spread evenly around the car.
There are four up front in the usual place, then another four mounted behind the rear seat. Oh, did I mention the turbos? Each engine also has a GTX 28/67 turbo attached to it, and on E85 each engine makes 300hp. So, just in case you don’t have your calculator handy, that’s 600hp, all-wheel drive in a package that weighs around 1100kg.
Each engine has its own gearbox and its own computer too. Matt put a huge amount of work into linking both transmissions up to a single clutch pedal and connecting the two gear shifters via a metal rod. It’s something a mad scientist would dream up and absolutely stark raving mad – but brilliant at the same time.
A lot of thought – and trial and error – went into making the car work, and when I say work, I mean not spit Matt off the road every time he sank the boot in. The car has already run 10.50s with just 420hp, so it should be in the single digits very soon.
It’s fast with a capital ‘F’, as I found out at Gazzanats Darwin when Matt offered to take me for a few laps around Hidden Valley Raceway. You’d think that cornering would be a strange experience with something with a front wheel-drive drivetrain in the front and back, and you’d be right especially when you remember there’s 300rwhp and a whole lot of twist going through the front wheels. But when Matt gets on the straight and drops the hammer, it all sort of works!