Compact 90s hatchbacks from Japan are popular cars to tune around the world. In South Africa, a gentleman named Boris didn’t fall far from the automotive tree, growing up on Need For Speed, Gran Turismo, and the Fast and the Furious. His love of cars only grew as he got older, with him today having a very special Toyota Conquest with more to offer than just good looks.
Underneath the clean exterior hides an entirely different powertrain. Boris swapped in a Toyota Celica engine, specifically the fourth-generation 3S-GTE. It’s an easy-to-access engine that’s robust and reliable. It was rated at 242 horsepower all those years ago, being built in the last few years of the 1990s. However, the engine now makes a lot more power in the Conquest.
It can run on ethanol, increasing the car’s output to just over 400 hp. Regular pump gas takes the power output down to around 300 hp. The build includes most of the Celica’s powertrain, including the all-wheel-drive system, which only enhances the car’s performance capabilities. It also has several other upgrades and hardware.
Boris also took the gearbox, drive shaft, prop, and differential from the Celica. However, it now uses a twin-disc clutch after burning through the stock one and a single-clutch setup.
Inside, Boris kept it simple, removing the rear seats and installing bolstered seats from a Subaru WRX STI for the fronts, but those won’t be around forever. A Momo steering wheel adds some sportiness to the cabin, but the rest of the interior has been kept relatively clean and simple.
The Toyota might have been a commuter car when it rolled off the assembly line, but owners like Boris give these cars a new lease on life. The classic 90s styling and potent powertrain make for a compelling package that can surprise its competitors on the race track.
The Celica-powered Conquest has enough power to keep up with modern machines, and it’d be exciting to see it compete against some new metal. Having 400 hp on tap in something that light can be a lot of fun.