A month of solid work has resulted in this, one of finest and most focused tuned Toyota Glanzas in the UK…
The Toyota Starlet Glanza has never been the most obvious of hot hatch choices, at least as far as the UK is concerned. We’ve always plumped for offerings from closer to home; Polos, Saxos, Minis and, if we’re counting the fact that they’re built in sunny Swindon, the Honda Civic Type R.
It can’t have helped that the Glanza was never officially sold in this country, Toyota instead opting to push their more prosaic and practical offerings. All of this is a massive shame, as the Starlet Glanza truly was a late ’90s powerhouse of car – a hot hatch with massive attitude, aggressive looks and decent firepower from a 1.3 4E-FTE turbocharged four-pot. 130bhp, in factory guise, was good power for a hot hatch 20 years ago.
Little wonder then that these cars are becoming increasingly popular with UK tuners and that a number of examples are pushing genuinely startling power figures, much like the car you see here.
Owned and built by Chloe Shaw (with help from her partner Dave Marsden), it manages to strike the perfect balance between power and track-inspired style.
“It looks great right now, but it certainly didn’t start this way,” laughs Chloe. “I had another Glanza before this one and had spent years upping the spec and perfecting it. It was a great car, right up until a drunk driver ploughed into the back of me and wrote it off.”
That’s about as bad a starting point as it’s possible to get, though there was one silver lining; most of the Glanza’s running gear had survived the boozy smash intact and could be re-used and re-purposed.
Finding a replacement shell took time – remember, these cars were never sold by Toyota UK and every example over here now is the result of an importation – though Chloe eventually struck lucky. At this point it’s also worth pointing out that the original smash occurred just over two months ago, meaning the car you see before you is the result of eight or so frantic weeks of late night spannering!
“At first I was only after a replacement shell to re-home all my original running gear, but a full car came up for a good price and I had to have it. It was also in a much, much better state than the first car in terms of bodywork.”
At the heart of this build and key to the Glanza V’s popularity is the 1300 4E-FTE up front. In standard guise this delivers solid power but they’re also something of a tuner’s dream, more than capable of making over 200bhp with the right modifications and careful mapping. Chloe’s engine is good for 227bhp at 0.9bar of boost, a figure it was quite happily making in a dependable, reliable fashion while bolted to the first car. With that written off and sent to the great scrapyard in the sky, Chloe and Dave set to work transferring it to its new home.
We learned long ago that although power is important, it’s actually how fast a car ‘feels’ that makes or breaks the driving experience. Now, well over 200bhp in something this small and light is already a recipe for b-road thrills, but factor in the low ride height, decidedly old school steel construction and go-kart like chassis setup, and it should be no real surprise to learn that Chloe’s Glanza is a fully paid up hoot to drive on the limit.
Ditching the OE blower for a Wepr TD04 manifold and turbo setup was a defining step in the development of this Glanza, and one that allowed Chloe to fully exploit the potential of that screaming little 1300 motor. A Tial external wastegate with suitably anti-social ‘screamer pipe’ completes a decidedly hooligan-like forced induction setup.
Glanza Vs date from the mid-’90s, a period when cars were feather-light, analogue and decidedly ‘chuckable.’ Chloe’s taken this a stage or two further by putting her own car on something of a crash diet. Not only has the interior been rid of anything considered unnecessary, the front wings and bumper have also been replaced with fibreglass versions – it isn’t quite a case of ‘simplify and add lightness,’ but it’s damn close.
We’ve covered the fact that this new shell was in a much better way than Chloe’s old one, but that didn’t stop the pair spending many long evenings making it near enough perfect. No parking ding, chip or imperfection was considered too small to rectify, and the car that eventually emerged was about as close to brand new as it’s possible to make a car of this age. It got even better when the custom vinyl wrap and Junk Debris alloys were applied.
Cars like this serve to remind us how good we had it in the mid to late ’90s, a period when cars were still fast and fuel was cheap, but they were also fairly simple to work on, repair and tune. Keeping any Glanza on the road nowadays is a fair challenge (Chloe’s quick to point out that even the best remaining examples will have been ragged over the course of their long lives), particularly if tipsy piss artists insist on running into the back of them.
All of this makes it all the more heartening that Chloe and Dave didn’t give up, and the resulting Glanza is undoubtedly one of the best surviving examples and a far more complete car than the one it replaced.