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This VTEC-Powered 1981 Toyota Starlet Is an Insane RWD Monster With a Short Wheelbase

Hot hatches desperately needed a saving grace from the chaotic SUV/crossover migration, and Toyota perfectly did it with the GR Yaris and, recently, the new GR Corolla. It might not last the tide, but as they say, “if you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” Toyota’s stint with a high-performance subcompact car didn’t start with the GR Yaris. If anything, it began with the Toyota Starlet in 1986.
 VTEC-Powered 1981 Toyota Starlet 9 photos
VTEC-Powered 1981 Toyota StarletVTEC-Powered 1981 Toyota StarletVTEC-Powered 1981 Toyota StarletVTEC-Powered 1981 Toyota StarletVTEC-Powered 1981 Toyota StarletVTEC-Powered 1981 Toyota StarletVTEC-Powered 1981 Toyota StarletVTEC-Powered 1981 Toyota Starlet
Like most affordable high-performance Japanese imports from the late 80s and early 90s, the 1986 to 1999 Starlet EP71, EP82, and EP91 have a cultic following (depending on where you are located). North America, unfortunately, didn’t get this performance variant.

The Toyota Starlet didn’t have a lengthy presence in the North American market. The 60 Series KP61 sold in the U.S. for three years (1981 to 1984), making them a sort-of rare find in that market. Still, a small community of enthusiasts in the United States are fascinated by its tunning capabilities.

The first (P40/P50) and second-generation Starlet (60 Series) enjoy an active rally life due to their rear-wheel-drive configuration.

David Patterson of ThatDudeInBlue YouTube channel recently featured a rare 1981 Toyota Starlet running on Honda S2000 internals.

This one, in particular, is special because, one, it weighs 1900 pounds. Two, it has an F22 S2000 engine in it, and the weirdest thing of all, it’s rear-wheel-drive,” Patterson said about his recently featured pocket rocket.

Besides running on a naturally aspirated Honda F22A engine, it also has the stock S2000 transmission.

The owner, Danny, got this classic Japanese subcompact car for $500. He initially wanted to do a 4A-GE engine swap but opted for an F22A engine after stumbling upon a crashed S2000.

Weighing just about 1,900 pounds (862 kilograms), the VTEC-powered Toyota Starlet will rev to 9,000 rpm and is good for 240 hp (243 ps).

This is one of my favorite Honda experiences I’ve ever had. It’s funny how natural this feels, but unnatural at the same time because it was never meant to go this fast. This was an economy car, right, for the most part,” Patterson exclaimed after a few pulls in the rear-wheel drive F22-powered 1981 Toyota Starlet.

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