"The days of working on your own bike (or car) have been pretty scarce in more recent years, but custom-builds are gradually becoming more and more popular. Jay Shepherd tells us his story. As a self-employed builder, Jay’s bike "
Rocket Bunny GT86
Is it wrong to modify a modern car?
We’ve heard time and time again over the years not to mess about with modern cars.
They’re perfectly reliable and feature up-to-date modern styling yadda yadda. But is it really a crime to lower a car? Is it a crime to increase its power? And is it a crime to improve upon what the manufacturer ‘started’, but didn’t have the balls to finish (in some cases)? We think not, and that’s why you see Kiran Halsey’s body-kitted Toyota GT86 before you now.
The humble 21-year-old business owner from Norfolk has always had a love for cars – I know, I know, haven’t we all?! But Kiran has an appreciation for all, and there’s a lot to be said for that down-to-earth attitude these days, especially in the ‘scene’. “Cars are my passion,” he told us. “I don’t have one single style that I prefer, I appreciate everything that I see, the work that goes into people’s builds and their decisions and uniqueness when it comes to their own car. To be honest, I’m obsessed with anything with an engine,” he said.
Kiran’s first car was a hand-me-down 2006 Seat Ibiza, which he didn’t modify. Next, he bought a Mk2 TT TDI, which he traded in for the GT86. Even before he bought the GT86, he made sure he knew what the PCD was so he could order some Bola B1 wheels in white, so he could fit them as soon as he got the car home. He bought the GT86 D-4S 2.0-litre petrol stock, with the only modifications being KW coilovers, and a turbo.
Just one week of getting her home, he took it to Demand Engineering for a custom-built 3-inch exhaust system, straight through to the back with no silencers. His relationship took over for a while (we’ve all been there) until the October when he took every penny he’d saved at that point in time and went mad. “I ordered custom wheels, new lights, the Rocket Bunny kit you see here, spoiler, gauges and harnesses, new intakes, new intercooler, steering wheel, gear knob, wheel nuts, and even things I’d never even heard of. I hit it hard,” Kiran said. That December, the car went in to have the Rocket Bunny kit fitted. “I wanted to maintain the original look of the car when I had the V1 rocket bunny kit fitted so I had the kit fully smoothed rather than the bolt on jap look and the car was fully resprayed using the original paint code,” he told us. Two months later it was complete.
“The car stayed this way for a while, after the initial build. I was running static so I had a lot of problems with the arches and how much poke I was running on 19-inch wheels (which are a size too big for the RB kit), which meant the car had to go back to the painters to have some repairs done,” he said. Unfortunately, though, there was a problem. A big problem. The company he went to fix the problems couldn’t seem to colour match the initial respray. He took the car away dissatisfied. Shortly after it had to go in for more work, as it was already booked into Plush Automotive for a full air install – fully-adjustable Airlift Performance suspension and 3P management – in July 2016, just in time for SlammedUK’s first show Gravity. “The car went into Plush to have the air ride done – I cannot put into words just how good their quality really is – and it was ready for Gravity. It’s lowered as far as I can get it. The exhaust has been flattened in a certain spot and, when I air out, my sump tray sits on the ground. I am chasing a way to allow the frame to sit on the ground, but this is proving difficult at the moment. Once the show was over, I set about finding someone to fix the mess that was the body work,” Kiran said.
September came and Kiran took the car in to sort the issues with the paint. SBC customs in Norwich took on the job. “I went to see the boss, Henry, who looked over the car and said he was happy to put the small issues right and so on, but as he began work and dug deeper into the original work he discovered how poor it really was, all of the panels were almost glued on, the workmanship was shoddy and he said he needed to put it right and when I inspected it myself I could see how bad it really was,” Kiran said. This was about the time that Kiran gave SBC Customs the go-ahead to fully strip the car. All of the arches were removed, and the car was almost taken back to bare metal. As it was being stripped down, Kiran thought he may as well go for a colour change – and why the hell not! He decided to go for pure black. “I chose straight gloss black as my plan was to fully murder the car (as Kanye would say; “all black everything”). Along with the fully-smoothed version 1 Rocket Bunny kit, he has a fully custom front splitter and canard set. The original boot spoiler was removed and the holes smoothed over for a cleaner look, his rear lights have been tinted black to match the car and he has added custom side skirts which match the effect from the front splitter. “My party trick is my wing, I originally set out to install the Version 1 Rocket Bunny spoiler, which came with the kit, but I was sent two of the same boot mounts so had to wait two months for another to be sent in replacement. This gave me the idea of designing and building my own chassis mount. All fully designed and cut by me, using CAD and a laser cutter. I took my measurements and had the fitting plate and the risers cut. I then had a friend press the risers to give them the angle required to use the original Rocket Bunny deck lid,” Kiran explained.
Rusty Rimz took receipt of his BC racing wheels and repainted them to fit in with the new colour change. After taking it to a few shows this year, he got his hands on a set of 18-inch Work Meister S1s, which meant he could work on getting the car lower to the ground. After a few fitment issues – something I’m sure we’ve all experienced at some point – it’s now at its current look. The Work Meister wheels have been covered in Advan AD08R tyres (215 on a 9j front, and 225 on a 12j rear – slightly stretched, then?!).
To the inside is a six-point cage, complete with Bride reclining bucket seats, a MOMO steering wheel (with snap-off boss), custom gauges, and drift button. The dash has been sprayed black, too.
The car now has a full Stage 1 AVO turbo kit – fitted by Fensport, which includes the intercooler, oil cooler, uprated fuel pump, uprated TRD oil filters, blitz induction kit, four-paddle helical clutch, TRD LSDiff, and a fully custom exhaust with electronic valve after the manifold (supplied by Demand Engineering). As stock, the GT86 produces 197bhp, but with all the mods Kiran has put the car through, she now pumps out 300bhp (a tasty increase of 103bhp). The car has been fully poly-bushed throughout and features upgraded anti-roll bars all-round
“I love the GT86. With it being my first truly modified car, I have a real bond with it. Although it drives me crazy, I don’t think I will ever sell it unless someone offered me silly money,” he said. Kiran was initially looking at Nissan GTRs, before purchasing the GT86, but (as he was only 19 at the time) his dad had a number of reservations… understandable. He set about looking for something fun and fast that he could enjoy, but also hide from his dad. As soon as he saw the GT86 for sale online, he knew he had to have it.
“I love how it sits at the moment, but when is a build ever actually finished?! I go through new ideas, daily. I plan on getting the aesthetics spot on, then I’ll look into an engine swap. Keeping it OEM, I’d love to go for a single turbo 2JZ, with around 500bhp. The GT86 is the car I’ve learned everything I know about cars in, and I still continue to learn.
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to buy myself a 2015 F80 M3, which is taking up most of my attention at the moment. It won’t be anything major like a wide-body, but I am hoping to have a show car daily as well as my show car/race car,” Kiran concluded.
images: Ashleigh Flood, rollzie.com, Charlie Tog, Nic Lawson
CLICK TO ENLARGE