A BEAMS transmission doesn’t look that different – but it completely transforms the car on the track in that the anemic performance is gone, replaced by a gearset that finds the sweet spot every time. Of course, when it’s sitting on cardboard beside the car at the track, it’s like a fish out of water. But, the removal and replacement went smoothly and Kyle went on to collect another class win! Having the support of Stage Four Motorsports certainly helped during this trackside clutch replacement. Photo Credit: Stage Four Motorsports.
When I asked about the transmission, Kyle got a bit of a grin, and he informed me it was a little different. This was the motherload – this GTS has a BEAMS transmission. That initially did not mean anything to me, but between Kyle’s information and some time on Toyota forums I realized that this was a performance product produced by Toyota. While BEAMS apparently stands for Breakthrough Engine with Advanced Mechanism System, Kyle does not have that engine (yet). He has the transmission which has a TRD helical Limited Slip Differential and is a S54 BEAMS transmission. The BEAMS Celica came with bigger horsepower so it appears that the transmission may have been a beefier unit. The standard OEM unit came with a 3.944 final drive and a 2.041 third gear. The BEAMS transmission has a 4.176 final drive and a 1.960 third gear. He found out about this unique transmission in 2010 while surfing Toyota forums on the Internet and obtained one through an importer. In 2015, he heard of another one for sale – which he quickly obtained and that one is now residing in his basement. As our cars are getting older, with parts more and more of a challenge to obtain, when you see the almost unobtainable available you have got to grab it. This transmission upgrade made a world of difference to the GTS. Kyle says that the transmission woke up the car! Seeing the car in action on the track, I have to agree and point to this as the single main factor that has provided this car with the track credentials that it has.
There’s never too much preparation when you’re heading to a competition weekend at the track. Essentials – well, they’re right in front of us. A jack and duct tape! Photo Credit: ScooterMedia.
Obviously, the story does not end with the transmission. That would be too simple and nothing in motorsport is simple. The second part of this time attack package is suspension and setup. Kyle’s history of being a part of the pit crew during Abel’s, his step-dad, oval track experience comes to prominence when discussing the suspension setup on the car. He has BC Racing RAM coilovers coupled with BC Racing Camber Plates – the camber plates have been flipped to allow for a castor increase beyond the normal installation – and Swift Springs. He is running 9 kg front and 12 kg rear most of the time. I say most of the time because he changes things up. For instance, at Shannonville he would run a softer rear spring while at the Driver Development Track (CTMP/Mosport) it would be heavier. Carrying on with his suspension he runs with no front sway bars (similar to one of my US friends and his former Nissan NX, which was very fast!). His rear sway bar is a 22mm Suspension Techniques model with home made and obviously custom adjustable end links.
One thing that I have observed about oval track drivers, apart from them being fearless on track, is that they have creative and innovative ideas about setting up their cars. And they do so on rather limited budgets. I’m sure Kyle picked up on this from his step-dad, Abel, when he flipped the camber plates to provide greater castor than the with the ‘preferred’ installation. Photo Credit: Stage Four Motorsports.
Taking a page out of Mike Kojima’s playbook for lowered cars and improving handling, his front tie rods are flipped using a T3 bump steer kit to help with bump steer, the lower control arms are flipped to improve handling. The stock control arms have had spherical housings welded on for greater caster and spacers to allow for adjustability. It is, however, the rear when his creativity really shines through. He has built a custom setup using Aurora rod ends and Bicknell Racing radius rod which provides two more inches of track over the stock setup. To add more rididity to the frame, a Cusco replica front strut tower brace and a C-One rear strut tower brace have been installed.
With the custom components installed on the rear, the Celica’s rear track width is now two inches greater than stock! Photo Credit: Stage Four Motorsports.
All of the OEM rubber bushings have been replaced with Aurora industrial grade bearings that Kyle points out are not fancy, but that they work. He credits Martin Valent, an autocrosser in the U.S.A., for his custom roll centre adjusters and the front control arms. At this point Kyle interrupted himself to point out that the rear trailing arm to knuckle mount has OEM bushings. Finally, it has extended ARP studs which hold the Basset Racing steel wheels in place. These 15×8 wheels have a -12 offset at the front and a +6 offset at the rear, with Hankook 225/45/15 RS3’s mounted on them.