The perfect antidote to a world of subtle styling cues, Bradley Jenkins’ insane Glanza V leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of the most thorough show car build we’ve seen for many, many years…
What was going on in your life around the turn of the millennium? Aside from the FC office collectively boasting far more hair on our heads all those years ago, another huge change can be quickly discovered by simply picking up a copy of this very publication from around that fine era.
Now don’t get us wrong, we love the modified car trends we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by these days, often going weak at the knees when copping eyes on a reserved, box-fresh ride boasting that all-important killer fitment. But we’d be lying if we said at least a small part of us didn’t miss those balls-out, no-holds-barred builds that were all the rage two decades back.
Why are we reminiscing over a style that’s all but extinct in this day and age? It’s all because of young Bradley and his Toyota Glanza V here: a car which takes a big leaf out of the ‘blank canvas’ tuning book of old and stands out in the scene like a sore thumb for all the right reasons as a result. Read on to learn about the ton of creativity and sheer sacrifices that’ve gone into making his dream a reality. And we guarantee that you too will be pining after the good old days before too long…
To say Bradley’s masterpiece has been a work in progress is something of an understatement. The car gradually evolving through many forms to finally reach what its proud owner confidently calls the ‘ultimate’ state that you see before you now. We actually approached the Stoke-on-Trent-based lad a few years back to offer him a feature, which he politely declined, explaining how he had a couple more tweaks to perform to ensure the car was bang-on and would warrant a place on the front cover. Safe to say, it was worth the wait!
The long road to perfection starts back in 2011, a time when Bradley had already owned several non-sporty Starlets but finally thought he deserved his own slice of turbocharged Glanza V hot-hatch perfection. Cue this particular example, which was then nothing more than a ropey standard white import with a failed head gasket. Working for his dad’s garage, Bradley thought it’d be a nice little project to keep him out of trouble over winter.
“I soon got the tuning bug and added parts like a Subaru turbo to it to get it up to around 200bhp,” he continues, the project gaining momentum by the second. Briefly selling the car only to buy it back a few months down the line with the handy addition of a forged engine, the intensity of the build heightened as Bradley realised his four-wheeled companion would probably be sticking around for a while.
It’s worth noting that our man here is proud to perform the majority of the work to his car himself, avoiding large tuning garages wherever possible to not only keep costs down but to ensure that his wild ideas could be fully lived out with no compromise – regardless of how many custom parts needed to be whipped up on route to make it happen!
This is around the time things really ramped up a notch and the humble boosted hatchback began to take the unforgettable form it sports to this day. We caught up with Bradley as him and his pals were stuck underneath the Glanza in his garage, performing an engine-out re-spray on the entire car in this Dodge Redline red hue. Soon also sporting those perfectly-executed wide arches, a set of tasty split rims and, controversially, the adapted air suspension system that’s still thought to be the only one of its kind around, you probably won’t be too surprised to hear the Toyota created huge waves when unveiled in this guise a couple of years back.
He’d already taken the formula further than most will dare to in this day and age. But for Bradley at least, there was still plenty of room for improvement for what promptly became known as his ‘Glanzair’.
It was back to the drawing board that winter, then, with another engine-out overhaul which this time saw him taking the clean look under the bonnet to the extreme. “Bits like the ABS, power steering, air con and even the car’s wiring loom are all gone,” he grins, using clever tricks like routing cabling through the front wheel chassis leg and even relocating the wiper motor to behind the dashboard in the name of cleanliness. And it’s all resulted in a bay that seems to defy physics as far as a working car engine is concerned.
Now sporting a larger Precision turbo and other extremely clever tweaks like a stand-alone ECU and even an Audi-spec coil-on-plug ignition system (both helping to reduce clutter further), Bradley’s previous dyno recording of 301bhp is more likely to read around the 350bhp figure these days, although it’s yet to be put on the rollers again in its current trim.
Another recent change comes in the form of rolling stock – with some seriously JDM SSR splits now taking pride of place under each of those capacious arches. Again, it was a job that didn’t come without its headaches though, involving 5×114.3 hub conversions all-round to allow for wider rims to be spec’d up without sacrificing clearance for that air suspension system. Finished up with chrome faces and polished dishes, when you see the epic appearance these five-spokers give off, we think you’ll agree it was all worth the effort!
We couldn’t possibly wrap up the story without giving what is quite possibly the most lairy part of the entire project some attention, though: the interior. Eager to move as far from the basic, grey-cloth Japanese cabin as he possibly could, Bradley’s pulled out all the stops here, the car now boasting four front reclining sporty pews in a 2+2 format, re-trimmed in red leatherette and complete with zebra-print centre panels – enough to make it stand out in any situation you could throw at it! It’s topped off with that equally-as-custom, smoothed-out dashboard that utilises digital screens to carry out the tasks the more traditional dials used to.
In his pursuit of the most extreme show car around, Bradley is the first to admit he’s had to sacrifice most of the car’s driveability and practicality along the way. “I’ve ruined it!” he laughs. “It’s become a bit of a running joke between my mates.”
Despite the majority of the driver aids being removed and a floor-scraping stance to deal with, he admits the car is still a blast to drive when you’ve got a big enough road to unleash the full grunt of that engine on, not that he does too many long-distance drives in the thing these days, understandably.
Although he’s built one of the most serious modified rides currently on the show circuit, it’s Bradley’s refreshingly laid-back attitude that shines through the most during our time spent with him; his ability to appreciate both the huge positives and the negatives the car’s brought with it allowing him to fully enjoy his hard work fully.
“It just seemed like the thing to do and has been a huge laugh along the way,” he muses. “Some people don’t appreciate various aspects of it now, but I don’t care… I don’t even like some of it myself!”
One thing is for certain, though – there’s not much more that could be physically performed with this platform, leaving our happy owner here with the sole task of simply enjoying the fruits of all his labours.
TECH SPEC: TOYOTA STARLET GLANZA V
Full re-spray in Dodge Redline Pearl Red; CarbonMiata wide-arch body kit adapted to fit; Livesport front bumper and side skirts; Jam rear bumper; Proto-CNC custom billet alloy rear spoiler frame; Starlet Remix rear lights; washer jets and lock barrels removed; ID-Workz reverse bonnet scoop; welded and smoothed engine bay; ABS, air con, power steering, brake servo, master cylinders and original wiring loom all removed; wiper motor relocated to inside car behind dashboard.
Fully-forged 1.3-litre 4E-FTE turbocharged DOHC 16v engine; Wossner forged pistons; Scat forged con rods; ARP head bolts; Athena MLS head gasket; red alloy alternator, crank and camshaft pulleys; Precision 5558 turbocharger with billet compressor wheel and anti-surge compressor housing; WEPR alloy inlet manifold; 70mm alloy B18 throttle body; Blitz Nür-Spec exhaust system; stubby Siemens Deka 630mm fuel injectors; polished fuel rail; WEPR stainless steel drag-spec exhaust manifold and downpipe; Blitz DSBC boost controller; Ford crank sensor; Vauxhall air and coolant temperature sensors; Audi coil packs; triple-core alloy radiator; Megasquirt MS2 ECU with custom hidden loom; factory five-speed manual gearbox; electronic speedo drive conversion; extended gear linkage arms; short-shift gearstick.
9.5x17in (front) and 10x17in (rear) SSR Professor SP1 split rims with chromed centres, polished lips and gold bolts; billet 5×114.3 hub flanges; air tank in rear footwell; pumps and valves in spare wheel well; extended wishbones and CV joint spacers; extended rear axle; modified stub axles; crossmember, crash bar and slam panel removed and replaced by one lower crossmember; polybush engine/gearbox mounts; driver’s-side engine mount removed from inner arch and relocated to inside the chassis leg using Starlet gearbox mounting and alloy adapter mounting; Alfa Romeo Brembo callipers with 315mm Lexus discs (front); Mercedes ML Brembo callipers with 303mm Mazda CX-5 discs and original rear Starlet calliper for handbrake (rear); OBP floor-mounted pedal box.
Smoothed/painted dashboard and interior trims; 4x Glanza V reclining bucket seats re-trimmed in red leatherette and gold/cream zebra-print centre panels; universal speedo cluster; samurai sword handle-style gearknob.
Crossways of Sneyd Green; Custom Paint Works; Bailey Performance; Elite Upholstery; Rakeway Engineering; Tuning Developments; Niphos Metal Finishing.
Words Sam Preston Photography Adam Walker