Philip Huynh put his 2008 Toyota Crown Athlete up for sale and ordered a 2021 RAV4 hybrid, which has a four-month delay where he lives in Auckland, New Zealand. He didn’t expect his Crown Athlete to sell the next day, and he was scrambling to find a temporary daily driver when he came across a 1999 Toyota Starlet Remix online. He was smitten and decided to name the car Ted.
Complete with an all-original body and interior, the Starlet Remix has right-hand drive and bright yellow checkerboard seats and yellow knobs that might remind you of a Tonka truck or even Cher Horowitz’ yellow plaid suit on the 1995 movie Clueless. It even has the AM radio that came with it and I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to drive with only AM stations on the menu.
Toyota made the Starlet hatchback exported in the U.S. for a brief period of time between 1981 and 1984. The KP61 model came standard with a five-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive until they pulled it from the American market. The Starlet Remix, which was an all-wheel drive version, was a limited production car destined for the Japanese domestic market only and it has a rounded, fun shape. In 1999, the Vitz (you might know it as an Echo or Yaris) replaced the Starlet, and it was no more.
Huynh’s Starlet Remix has a 1.3-liter fuel-injected four-cylinder engine; four-speed speed automatic transmission with overdrive; air conditioning; power steering; and power windows and mirrors. The body kit, which is only available on the Remix edition, consists of bigger front and rear bumpers, plus facelifted front and rear taillights, grille, fog lights, roof racks, and flares. His Starlet is missing the best part, unfortunately, which is the swingarm and spare tire box with wording on the back that translates to “I love the countryside.” He’s on the hunt for one to replace it. In his driveway are two other interesting vehicles: a 1989 Mazda MX-5 with a 4.0-liter Lexus V8 swap and trunk-mounted turbocharged 460-horsepower ATW, and a 1991 Nissan Skyline GT-R with a 550-horsepower ATW.
Ted’s owner says he has been messing around with cars since he has been able to drive. Whether it has a unique engine swap, rare and unobtainable parts or “something simple but makes you look twice and go ‘waaa/woah!’” he’s all about that. To that end, his personalized plates read “WAAA” on his MX5, and that same plate was on his JZX100 Chaser, which Matt Farah drove in one of his videos for The Smoking Tire in 2015 when he visited New Zealand.
While Huynh waits for his brand-new RAV4 to arrive, his little yellow Ted is a great distraction.