Maria Ahvenlampi at all times knew that her husband Olli’s love for his 1986 Toyota Starlet EP70 ran deep.
Olli Ahvenlampi was a DJ with a love for ’80s music and ’80s vehicles. He noticed potential in these older Japanese machines – particularly Toyotas – and already owned a bunch of Starlets earlier than embarking on this construct.
Again within the fall of 2019, across the identical time that Olli obtained his most cancers analysis, he, Maria, and good friend Niko picked the EP70 from a close-by metropolis in Finland. It was manufacturing unit black, unique and in glorious situation for its age. In different phrases, the right place to begin for a brand new mission.
Olli had an bold plan and imaginative and prescient for the automobile: a version ‘2.0’ build to carry on from his then current EP70 project.
The unique plan was to finish the Starlet in time for the 2020 American Automotive & Tuning Present (ACS) in Helsinki, the place Olli already had a present spot reserved. However little did Olli that he’d quickly be confronted with the ‘worst case state of affairs’ of his most cancers analysis.
Earlier than the sickness took management of his each day life, Olli visualized and shared his plan on how the Starlet would look. So when all of Olli’s remedy choices had been exhausted in Finland, and he travelled with Maria to Belgium for a brand new non-public most cancers drug trial, his family and friends saved the construct going. The fixed updates that Olli obtained from these who had stepped in to assist with the mission offered much-needed pleasure and happiness throughout this horrible time.
“In Could 2020, the [ACS] tuning present was canceled because of the pandemic, and we knew straight away that Olli will not be alive presently subsequent 12 months when the occasion can be organized once more,” Maria remembers. This prompted a critical dialogue about what would occur to the Starlet if Olli handed away. In fact, everybody near him promised to see the construct by way of to completion.
In June, Olli was nonetheless capable of get to the storage and witness firsthand the mission taking form. Simply hanging out along with his greatest pals Riku Tujunen, Teemu Rinne and Niko Sulander, in addition to Ville Hämäläinen, was a very essential and empowering time in Olli’s ultimate weeks, says Maria. She noticed that the storage environment made any dangerous ideas really feel distant.
Right now, all of the essential bodywork elements had been restored and widened rear wheel arches had been welded in place.
Olli peacefully handed away with Maria by his aspect on July 7, 2020. They Starlet was not talked about throughout Olli’s ultimate days; there was no query that it will be completed when the time was proper.
The mission was paused for the rest of 2020 as everybody near Olli got here to grips along with his passing. ACS was canceled once more for 2021 so there was no must hurry the construct alongside, however because the months glided by the Starlet slowly started to tackle its ultimate type. Maria and Olli’s pals focused on the outside and the inside, leaving the 1.3L engine inventory for the time being.
The enduring HKS ‘oil splash’ livery suits the little Starlet completely, complementing the low, huge bodywork. The Starlet rides on D2 Racing coilovers, touching the bottom with period-correct Tramont TY2 wheels wrapped in grippy Toyo Proxes TR1 tires.
The entrance lip spoiler got here straight from an AE86 whereas the Toyota MR2 aspect skirts had been modified to go well with. The customized rear ducktail spoiler with Speedhunters katakana brand was carried over from Olli’s earlier EP70 and feels utterly in tune with the theme, as do the fender mirrors.
The inside obtained Momo bucket seats and TRS harnesses, a dished steering wheel, stylistically-fitting gear knob, a much-needed tachometer and a customized rear strut bar.
Maria says that each minute of her first actual car-building expertise – and the emotional rollercoaster that got here with it – was completely value it. She knew that Olli would have been pleased with her and all his pals for ending what he began.
Regardless of all of the difficulties, twists and turns, the 2022 American Automotive & Tuning Present present weekend was a completely superb expertise. Maria says that she’s going to keep in mind it endlessly: the environment, new pals, and all the nice recollections made.
Since then, Maria has taken the Starlet out for a drive at any time when she needs to carry again recollections or must clear her head. The EP70 has turn into her little sanctuary, a spot she is aware of that Olli is together with her, in spirit, using shotgun in his beloved automobile.