A Car This Small Shouldn't Sound This Good

Illustration for article titled A Car This Small Shouldn't Sound This Good
Screenshot: VHTRacing

A few years ago, I saw this little Finnish Toyota Starlet run at the Mt. Washington hillclimb. I don’t think my ears have stopped ringing.


I loved the car so much that I still check up on it every so often, making a note to check in on Mikko Kataja and his Starlet. Here he is at Mt. Washington back in 2017:

That is a tight, tight little one-and-a-quarter lane road, and this Starlet makes it look like a highway. It doesn’t exactly hide the bumps, though. That is a rough, rough course, and I don’t know how Kataja made it out of the car with all of his teeth intact.

And here he is claiming the fastest time at the Empire Hill Climb a few years back as well. Keep an eye on that rev counter:

It’s well and good to see interior footage of this car, but somehow the camera audio just doesn’t do the 10,000 RPM justice. Though it might sound like a motorcycle engine, this is a 16-valve Toyota 4A-GE Toyota, the same kind of thing you find in AE86s.

Here, then, is some footage of the car on a recent test out in the open. The fresh, cool air lets the sound of this car really travel:

God, it sounds so good. That intake noise is so rich, so all-consuming.

I do adore these Starlets. Like the AE86 being the last rear-wheel-drive Corolla, these were the last rear-wheel-drive Starlets, as small and compact as Toyota’s RWD economy cars ever ended up before everything switched over to FWD.


Not that there’s anything wrong with fun-wheel drive, but these final rear-drivers do have a particular underdog charm. You still see them pop up at rallies all over the globe, buzzing and sliding their way around courses. Drift events used to see them with a bit more regularity as well, though the days of the Drift King himself running one are long gone.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.



Not really sure why one would think that small car size would be attributed to poor engine sound. If anything, small cars generally sound better than larger ones.