April 28, 2007: It's been a long time, I
shouldn't of left you...
HA! I just had an Eric B. and Rakim moment.
Am I dating myself? Unfortunately, I'm a lot older
than folks who listened to 80's rap. I can
actually remember watching TV(black and white btw) as a
kid and seeing groups like The Temptations or The Fifth
Dimension. That's how old I am.
It's definitely been a long time though and I'm
finally getting around to an update. Checking file
dates on my web pages, it looks like the last time I was
here was on November 20, 2006. Man, that was a
long time ago. I'm not big on excuses though so I
won't bore you with any. Took some time off from
the Celica project and now I'm back. I wish I
could say I was doing other fun stuff while I was gone
but that would be total lie. I'm just glad that
basketball season is over for my kids and I can get my
weekends back... well, sort of.
I started working on the Celica again around late
March. It was actually kinda hard to get back
into. So much time has gone by that it felt like I
was starting over and my motivation level wasn't exactly
at its height after seeing what a mess my garage was in.
I had to spend a fair amount of time reorganizing
parts(aka finding parts again) and trying to figure out
where things were. Its amazing how much junk gets
dumped into your garage over a course of four months.
So I cleaned up the garage a bit, started putting parts
in groups and boxes, and jotted down some notes about
how I wanted to tackle putting the interior back into
I decided that I would work installing the interior
from the back to the front of the car. The front
of the car still needs a few things worked out like the
windshield pillars, dash, and some insulation. I
wasn't sure how to go about the pillar issue(which I'll
talk about later) so I'll leave it for later. Who
knows, maybe while working on the car I might have a
I needed to finish installing the banana taillights
and hookup all the wiring before installing the
interior. I also needed to install the metal
center section of the lights. The early JP
Liftback had the gas tank filler in the center behind
the metal center section. The metal door actually
swings down and the gas cap can be found behind it(just
like the early coupe). Unfortunately, the RA28/29's
aren't like this. The filler has a door on the
passenger side of the car. So you're probably
wondering why I'm talking about all this. Well,
it's because the center section doesn't fit real well
into a RA29 and that you need to first drill some holes,
then shim the metal section door so it'll align with the
taillights. Not an incredibly hard task, but it
did take more time that I thought it would. I also
didn't want the holes to leak water so I needed to make
sure what ever alignment method I used, that it could
seal off the holes as well.
While putting this all together, I could really see
how lame manufacturing tolerances and how much custom
fit and finish needed to be performed on newly
manufactured cars from back in the day. The door
isn't even the same size as the taillights and the angles
aren't even the same. So I did the best I could
with it all. It still isn't aligned real well and
still bugs me whenever I look at it. But if I
looks at old JP Liftback pictures, I don't feel so bad.
Most of those don't even look close to fitting well.
Next thing I had to do was hookup the lights and make
sure all the bulbs worked. Comparing the wiring
harnesses from the banana and North America lights,
there were definitely some differences in the color
coding. Nothing major though and comparing the
connectors and associated wires, it looks likes I can
just swap the wiring harnesses and be done with it
because the connectors are the same. So I mount
the connectors and hook everything up. Hey, wait a
minute, there's no light for the rear side marker.
Oh yeah, the JP Liftbacks don't have one. Rats.
So I remove the wiring harness then proceed to spice in
an extra pair of wires and bulb for the rear side
marker(boy, taking all those extra wiring harnesses from
the junk yard came in handy). Solder it, tape it
up. Hey, almost looks factory. :-)
Reinstall the hardness, test, everything works like its
suppose to. Now that's something that doesn't
happen too often.
BTW, this is the best wire stripper in the world!
Next thing I had todo was drill holes for the license
plate lights then fish the wire through. That
worked out fine. All that's left is to insert a
couple of rubber grommets to seal it off.
One thing I found peculiar was that the banana lights
only have one bulb for the reds lenses. I take
that back. There's actually two but one of them is
really dinky and doesn't give off a whole lot of light.
The North American lights have two large bulbs - one for
each red lens and are actually separate from one other.
So the banana lights actually aren't that bright when
compared to the North American lights. My original
intent was to hookup the amber lights so they stay lit
also. This was something everyone did back in the
day and since I'm trying to keep this car true to its
era, I thought it would only be appropriate. The
concern I have right now though is that since the red
lens is what I consider underlit, the amber will be too
bright compared to it. Right now I don't have time
to figure out a workaround. I need to get this car
finished for the Toyotafest on May 12. So I leave
the lights alone for now and will come back to it if I
have time or deal with after the Toyotafest.
You can see below that the banana light assembly fits
okay. Had to drill a couple extra holes(you can't
see them) but no biggy.
You can see the extra wire I spliced in for the side
One thing that is a problem though is that the banana
tail light housing is much bigger than the North
American on. So big that when I put the rear cover
on, it hits. The plastic doors which fit on the
rear cover won't even come close to fitting. Oh
well, that's life and time keeps ticking. I make
some quick hack cuts into the plastic to clear the rear
cover and 86 the covers for now.
So I continue to work my way from the back of the car
to the front of the car. Next installation, the
rear seating area interior.
Most of this went fairly easy. Nothing changed
really, just putting back what was once there before.
I didn't have to re-glue some vinyl pieces which took
longer than I expected. But hey, that gave me an
excuse to stop working and go do something else!
Waiting for the non-hardening sealant to setup.
Panels being installed.
After getting all the side panels in, I realized that
I need to install the headliner before I can put some of
the remaining metal back in(the two pieces above the
side panel which hold them in along with covering the
end of the headliner. You know, makes it look nice
Installing a headliner by yourself sucks. I
don't know any othe way to put it. For one, it's
awkward in shape. Two, it's big and hard to hold.
Three, it never lines up like you want it to and nor do
the holes. So I wrestle this thing for about a
half hour with no progress. I finally lift it into
place, then use my head to hold it up while I try and
stick a couple of bolts into the seatbelt sockets to
hold the headliner in. Cool it works! I then
proceed to tuck the headliner under the front windshield
weatherstrip and install all the edge trim loom.
It was quite a bit of work but most of it went pretty
A little dusty.
Oh yeah, remember that pillar issue? Well, I
didn't feel like going out and hunting down some vinyl
to install on the pillars so I searched around my house
for something that might work. Found some old
kitchen drawer material that worked just fine.
Kinda a funny texture but heck, it'll hide all the lumps
and wrinkles I'll probably end up making.
Waiting for the glue to setup.
So the pillars are covered, the headliner is in, and
I get the rest of the trim installed. I actually
had to use a hammer in some places to get the trim to
fit correctly. Hope I never have to remove it
So I finish up the upper half of the interior then
proceed to install the rear seat. The toughest
part with that was figuring out how the seatbelts bolted
in. I should've taken better pictures of it when I
took it all out.
Still need to install the carpet in the back.
Which brings me to the next step, installing the
carpet. I bought a carpet kit from A1 Auto awhile
ago and it's been sitting in the box for over a year.
I knew I would have to let it flatten out and regain its
shape but I didn't think it was gonna be this bad.
The carpet is actually molded to the shape of the car's
floor which is cool. Unfortunately, being rolled
up in the box for so long made it loose some of its
So I try to lay it out in my garage for a day or so
but the weather has been pretty cold and the plastic
backing on the carpet isn't stretching out much.
The sun pops out for a day so I lay the carpet out on
the driveway to see if the sun will warm it up.
Too bad the day was still kinda cold. So I stretch
out the carpet as much as I can then proceed to install
it in the car. This was an incredible amount of
work and very time consuming. Although the carpet
is molded, it still requires holes to be cut for the
shifter, brake, seats, etc.. The carpet also still
needed to be trimmed to fit.
Note to self. Next time, take the car to a shop
and pay a professional to do this.
Around the same time, I also started putting all the
chrome trim and weatherstrips back on the car. I
decided to paint all the trim black. This is what
every use to do back in the day but I also thought it
looked better with the orange color.
I guess I actually installed these parts before doing
some of the interior and carpet.
One thing I've been wanting to do is a fit test on my
front spoiler. I think in one of the previous
chapters I talked about how I had use one from a RA22
style Celica and cut it up to make it fit a RA29.
The angle was right on but the fit was a bit tight.
I actually need to cut some of the fiberglass underneath
so it'll clear the metal in front of the radiator.
Nyeh, I'll do that later.
I also wanted to do a fit test on the seats. I
have some aftermarket seats that I was planning to use.
I'll need to fabricate some brackets but this shouldn't
be too hard. I did it for the Supra seats in my
RA24 back in the day.
Hmmm, the seats are a bit bigger than I thought they
Too big??? Well, I'm going to have to think
about this one a bit. Let's move on.
So far, I've been driving the car with the original
stock exhaust on the car which doesn't help with the way
the engine is running right now. I can tune the
engine until I get a new exhaust put up. So I
finally took the Celica down to the muffler shop and had
a new exhaust system installed.
Ready for the dumpster.
Test fitting the bends.
Pipe and muffler.
Another shot of the muffler.
I think I'm going to spray the muffler black.
New tip. Tried not to get one that's too
Tunerboyish and can launch a grapefruit.
Oh, if you're wondering what type of muffler I got,
... Magnaflow AND quite loud actually. :-b
Last, I started installing the dash. Few more
pieces and I'll be done soon. Thank goodness.
I really need to find a better steering wheel.
I'm hoping to finish the interior this weekend.
Letting the carpet "relax".
Okay, that's it for this month. See you at the