Looks Fast

Monday 23 June, 2014 | By Ken


At first glance,  Thomas Zebrasky’s Toyota Celica conjures  flashbacks of Toyota’s ad campaign a few years back, with the slogan, “Looks Fast”. And although they were quite humorous, showing a parked Celica getting all kinds of attention for “looking fast”, there was no doubt the Celica had some aggressive lines, a decent curb weight and some-what respectable naturally aspirated power for a four-banger. But for the most part, the Celica GTS never threatened the marketplace for it’s rivals such as those sporting the Honda/Acura badge. Some loved the Celica, but most either didn’t pay it much mind or flat-out hated it.

For Thomas, his Celica is eight-years in the making. Now 25, his love affair began back on his 17th birthday. His father, owner of Catz Automotive a restoration shop in Ohio, had given Thomas the choice of either getting a new car with the condition of keeping it bone stock, or getting a used car and having the opportunity to work on it when he had the resources available. His top choice was..you guessed it, a Toyota Celica. And when his birthday arrived, he actually received two Celicas! Now for a second you may think this guy is one lucky, spoiled brat. But as with any good parent, always trying to teach life’s lessons, the catch here was, his Celica turned out to be a “totaled” vehicle in need of serious love on the rear and passenger side. The second Celica served as a parts car, and the restoration would have to come with hands on participation from Thomas himself.  Little did his father know, the Celica would lead to bigger and better things.


The path to the present started out simple enough. Once the bodywork was restored from the accident, Thomas started out his modding-life quite simply with a set of wheels and a “fancy” front bumper. Not just a guy who put the work on the repairs and modifications, he wanted to get behind the wheel and enjoy his car. He joined SCCA doing autocross as well as slapping full drag slicks and running “Flat Out Fridays” on the circuit track. Over the years, he would perform transmission swaps and head swaps which would turn into more extreme projects on his Celica. His daily driver progressively turned into a summer car and then eventually where it sits now. Show car with a punch. As a matter of fact, for the past two years, his Celica sat for two years while a wire tuck, shaved bay, built motor and custom fabrications were in play.

Thomas knew from the beginning that he wanted to create something different and unique with his Celica. He acted on it, and took his time. In the process, Catz Autosports was created as he formed relationships with various aftermarket companies as well as doing R and D with select shops. Thomas takes pride in not just building a show car he is proud of, but forging relationships and his company as well. He followed through on his dreams and took a junkyard car from one extreme to another, creating a Toyota Celica that can grab the attention of the masses. He mentioned that he often hears people tell him how much they hated the Celica, but seeing what he has created makes them want to go buy one. Which leads us back to Toyota’s original marketing campaign, “Looks Fast”. Imagine if they had an opportunity to have THIS Celica in their ads.

No one truly knows what the future holds, but for Thomas, his masterpiece is still a work in progress. An artist in it’s own sense, a car guy with a dream. It’s all about acting on it and making that dream a reality.

Photography by: Halcyon Photography



Sponsored By: Glen R. Cimaglia (Owner) – North East Autosport – Boardman, Ohio

All Vinyl Graphics and Banners  | 2004 JDM Bumper with C-ONE front lip  |  Custom louver hood made out of carbon fiber  |   JDM Varis Side Skirts  |  Razzi center outlet exhaust rear bumper  |  Tri-Color Paint from BASF – Top: Spectra Blue  |  Pin Stripe: Triple Bronze


Interior & Audio:

Sponsored by:

– Bob Lancey (Owner) – Audio Extreme INC. – Boardman, Ohio  |  Sponsored Focal Audio:  Component Speakers: TN43 Tweeters, PS165 Components Subs: P 30 DB Amps: FPP 1000

– Rob Lancey (Owner) – True Customs – Boardman, Ohio Designed and Installed the equipment, as well as the Air Ride  |  Rockford Fosgate 4 gauge wiring  |  Rockford Fosgate RCA’s  |  Rockford Fosgate Speaker Wire  |  Marine Grade Breakers  |  LED back lighting

Bride Seats redone by Catz Autosport in Italian Leather and Suede  |  Dual Monitor Consul painted in Candy Purple  |  AEM Gauges both in dash and in the glove box  –  Dash: A/F Wide Band and Boost , Glove Box: Oil Temp, Oil Pressure, Water Temp  |  Team Tech Harnesses  |  NRG harness bar  |  C-ONE Type-R 3 Point Trunk Sway Bar  |  C-ONE Type-R 2 Point Lower Trunk Sway Bar  |  Two 15” Monitors in the Floating Trunk Floor  |  Air Ride Installed under the Floating Trunk Floor  |  TWM Short Shifter  |  TWM Weighted Shift Knob  |  C-ONE Shifter Bushings  |  C-ONE Shifter Base Inserts  |  Custom Gauge converted to JDM series


Motor: 1ZZ-FE – 554whp @30psi on 110 octane

Transmission: Lotus C-60

Management: Apexi Power-FC

Engine: Titanium Valves  |  Caps and Retainers from Monkey Wrench  |  Racing Port and Polished head done by Catz Autosport Custom  |  Designed Cams by Catz Autosport  |  Monkey Wrench Racing 840cc Injectors  |  Aeromotive 1000cc Fuel Pump  |  ARP Main and Rod Studs  |  Cometic Head Gasket  |  Wiesco Pistons 8.8:1  Ratio  |  Monkey Wrench Racing Rods and Bearings  |  Knifed and fully polished crank  | Moroso Oil Pan  |  Custom Engineered inserts to strengthen and close off the open water jacket  |  Darton Sleeves  |  Built C-60 Transmission with C-ONE gears   |  Custom Turbo set up Equal Length Turbo Manifold Custom Down Pipe and Exhaust Straight Dump WG  |  Custom IC piping and Turbo Intake all TIG welded  | Monkey Wrench Racing IC Turbonetics GT-K 550 Turbo  |  TIAL BOV  | TIAL WG  |  C-ONE Type-R Upper Sway Bar  |  C-ONE Type-R Torque Dampener  |  C-ONE Type-R Upper Radiator Supports  | C-ONE Type-R Lower Radiator Supports   |  C-ONE Lower Aluminum Under Panel

Sponsored By: Detective Coating for all Powder Coated Parts: Engine Mounts, Valve Cover, Valve Chain Cover, Radiator Support, Swap Bar Mounts, Fan Shroud, Intake Manifold, Alternator, Coolant Hard Line

Sponsored By: Radium Engineering Radium Engineering FRP, Fuel Rail, and Fuel Surge Tank  |  Radium Engineering Lotus Dual Catch Cans  |  Radium Engineering Coolant Can  |

Engineered 1ZZ-FE specific long runner intake manifold with GT-S TB – Designed by: Catz Autosport – Welded by: Mike Bernard & Andrew Petrollini

Wire Tuck Bay Designed and Installed by: Justin Ellis – JAX, FL

Shaved and Painted bay by Catz Autosport   |  Engine and Transmission is coated in Machine Grey  |  Every single nut and bolt has been changed to all Stainless Hardware   |  All hoses have been changes to Russel –an fittings and Earls Nylon Braided Line  |  Shaved the OEM Valve Cover and TIG Welded all –an ports  |  Deleted A/C system  |  Relocated Power Steering Reservoir  |  Mishimoto Radiator  |  Custom Fan Shroud with Mishimoto Fans



 Wheels and Tires

WORK S1 Miester 3 piece wheels all polished Front –  18×9 Rear  |  18×10.5 Front

Nitto NeoGen Tires Front: 225/35/18  |  Rear: 235/35/18


Suspension and Brakes

Sponsored by: AirREX Air Ride  |  Sponsored by: CEIKA Brakes – 8 Pot Front – 13” Rotor 6 Pot, Rear – 13” Rotor

Hotchkis Rear Camber Links  |  Whiteline Front/Rear sway bar links  |  C-ONE Front/Rear Sway Bars



About the author

Co-founder, Managing Director, Photographer, and editor for SNTRL. To many in the Tri-State, Kenny aka "MAD JDM" needs no introduction. Always out there, always ready, always down.

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