Last time on project Rodney, we took ownership of a 2004 Toyota Altezza SX10, factory-fitted with a 3SGE four-cylinder two-litre engine punching out 207hp from the factory and a six-speed manual gearbox. However, this example was definitely not putting out anywhere near that thanks to a serious rod-knock and crank walk, so we pulled the engine for inspection.
With the engine removed, it sat for months. As many others will know, life gets in the way and the hunt for a replacement second-hand engine took what seemed like years. Thankfully, with a great group of friends on the case, a 100,000kms engine was sourced through Te Puke Partsworld, and delivered to my workplace; North Shore Toyota Parts.
During this time, I had on order a set of Cusco Street Zero A coilovers from Japan with custom spring rates to suit the track-day and road driving I’ll be doing. To complement these, I ordered a Cusco rear sway bar and front strut brace. While waiting for all of that to land, I managed to score a rear GReddy strut brace off of a workmate for a good price — awesome!
One special Saturday, it all came together. I had work until midday, but when I arrived at Nick’s place where the Altezza has been kept, the Exedy Hyper Single had been bolted on and the gearbox fitted. The dream-team had even hung the engine on the crane and had it ready for installation!
By 5 pm, we had the engine in, the cooling system completed, and the exhaust system fitted. It had rained on and off throughout the day which wasn’t nice, but we were so close to having it running.
“I wonder why it won’t start?” I said to Nick after the jump-pack was connected and we’d cranked it over numerous times. “Sounds like it’s out of gas!” Nick said, laughing. Right as rain, the fuel tank was empty! A quick dash of fuel and the Altezza fired into life! The engine sounded extremely smooth too. Fluids were topped up, the bumper was installed and we called it a day.
The next morning, I collected the Altezza and drove it home hassle-free. The Exedy Hyper-Single clutch bites nicely and the six-speed gearbox provides an extremely ‘sporty’ feel. Even in stock form, the handling wasn’t bad at all, however, the very next day I had very big plans in that department…
With the help of my good friend Damian, we stripped down the suspension from the Altezza and to be honest, it was a total pain in the arse. The rear shocks and springs were a real pain to remove, but in no time at all, we had them removed ready for the Cusco shocks.
The new much shorter units were much easier to install. You just can’t go past the build quality of Cusco!
Once the coilovers were fitted, we installed the rear sway bar and bolted down the front strut brace — everything done in three hours! We took the Altezza out for a quick street test through some local twisties and WOW! The handling already is so much sharper and flatter. It’ll be interesting to see how it handles after a proper alignment and with the Zestino semi-slicks fitted.
There’s still plenty more to go with this project but we’ll save that for another episode as there a few more things we need to line up. I have purchased a seat, wheels, and tyres so they’re up next! Thanks for reading team.