Toyota, the mighty-big Japanese manufacturer, might be something of a family’s best friend with those affordable cuties, including the Prius, the Yaris and the Corolla. Plus, they have the nice-looking, comfortable, highly efficient and, again, affordable (that’s the company’s motto for the last 1.5 decades or so) SUVs, sedans and trucks. And if you were born, say, 15 to 20 years ago, then this is the Toyota you know – always have, and probably always will. I don’t blame you, because hey, that IS what the giant is all about these days. However, if you’re a rusty, crusty and old fella like me who still remembers what Kurt Kobain looked like on MTV, then you most definitely can tell me that back in the day the Japanese used to be ruling the market of sports cars. Disclaimer: I’m actually not really that old – I’m in my mid 30’s – but the truth is, I’ve been a fan of gorgeous cars ever since the early days, so, with that said, I can be considered a modern-day dinosaur. Check this out: back in the 20th century, when the grass was greener, the sky was brighter and the food was tastier (and healthier, not to mention cheaper), sports cars were the hottest thing in town, and the now-legendary Toyota Celica, Supra, MR2 and 2000GT were on top of the pedestal, along with Nissan’s and Honda’s drop-dead killer models. I remember being obsessed over these hot-shots when I was just a little boy, and, as it turned out, the love was mutual and ever-lasting. Even to this day I get pumped up when I see a beauty from the ’90s.
Enough Changes For A Life-Time
Alright, so, I’m thinking the smartest of y’all already figured out that today we’ll be talking about the iconic Celica (sounds beautiful, doesn’t it?) that’s officially one of the best sports cars to ever hit the road. Now, if you’re a fan of the automobile industry and consider yourself a fan/a gearhead/an enthusiast, I welcome you to join me and take a train down the history lane and see how this amazing go-getter made it to the top-5 (or even top-3) of the greatest “dude rides” out there. Sure thing, there are a lot of cars like Toyota Celica, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a one of a kind model. There are a lot of Mona Lisa duplicates too, you know… Ok, enough jabbering, my friends – let’s talk history! What can I tell you from my point of view? A lot of things, actually! If you wanna learn about a car’s soul, you gotta dig deep and see where it came from – check out the roots, bro! And the first thing you need to know is that the Celica went through 7 complete generations, so, that automatically means it’s and OG :). The second must-know fact is it’s been in production from 1970 to 2006 – that’s 46 years on the market, folks, almost 5 decades! By the way, the name comes from the Latin word coelica, which means something like “empyreal”, “heavenly”, and that’s like the perfect description for a stud like that. Now, over the long run this sporty car has been equipped with all kinds of 4-cylinder engines, so, steady and smooth was always the case. The biggest change happened in 1985 (August, if you need the exact date) – that’s when Toyota decided to switch it to FWD (front-wheel drive) from RWD (rear0wheel drive).
Toyota Celica For Sale – The Art Of Buying A Used Sports car
The world-famous Celica GT4 (come on, you must remember it from the old days!) was in production from 1986 to 1999. By the way, in case you were wondering, we, the North-Americans (the US and the Canadians), know it as the Celica All Trac, so, there you have it. Obviously, that’s just a super-quick “revision” – by any standards. I barely scratched the surface, and so, we still have a train to catch. Where to? Down the history lane, of course! You don’t even know the half of it, trust me. And no, you won’t fall asleep on the ride…well, maybe for a little while :). This champ was available as a convertible, a liftback coupe and even a notchback coupe. I know I just said “was”, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have any problems finding a Toyota Celica for sale online. With a legendary sports car like that you’ll get tons of offers in your city, if not your block. So, before we hit the road, let me share a few pointers with you on how to successfully buy a used car from the World Wide Web (that’s the Internet, folks). First things first, when you’re buying a sports car, you gotta fall in love with it at first sight. It’s not even a discussion: you saw it, you loved it, you got it – that’s the motto, fellas. If it’s a family-friendly SUV or a fuel-efficient hybrid, you can and must consider all your options, including seating, cargo capacity, tech-savvy, mileage, dimensions, and more. On the other hand, if you’re after something like, say, a 2002 Toyota Celica or a Nissan GT-R, the only criteria you need is your heart pumping and your breath…well, taking :).
Using Your Brains And Going Steady
Still, using your brains is a must, so, keep it steady and keep it cool. I’ll say it again: there are tons of Toyota Celica cars for sale, therefore, you don’t necessarily have to buy the first one you see at Cargurus.com or the next big-time market of pre-owned vehicles. I say this constantly throughout my reviews, but I think it won’t hurt to “spit it out” one more time: make sure to learn all the info the owner shares on the web-site and check out the photos/videos to try and spot all the flaws. And don’t be greedy, my friends! I know it’s super-compelling to go for the cheapest offer, but that could be a booby trap, and that’s the last thing you want to deal with (so, maybe not that “booby” after all :)). For example, if you’re in the market for something classy and are looking for a 76 Toyota Celica for sale, you can just type that in and see what Google has to say about it. You can always go to EBay for this kind of thing, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that, because it’s like the den of thieves, if you ask me. If you’re from Australia, check out the sourse. If not, Autotrader and the aforementioned CarGurus and Carsforsale.com are your best places to shop. By the way, the most popular search in the web is Celica All Trac for sale – guess folks want a touch of that legendary stuff, huh? Well, you’ll get tons of offers, so, sort through all of them, don’t go lazy on me! Ok, now I believe it’s time to go to the history class! Follow me!
The First Generation – The Japanese Mustang (1970-1977)
I need to say this upfront: with 7 gens to go, I’ll try to cover each one as briefly as possible, without losing all the important details, of course. After all, we’re here to have some fun, not discuss the tiniest bits of engineering and technological features, right? So, the 1st-gen Toyota Celica was first shown to the world 46 years ago – in October 1970, marketed as a personal vehicle that puts style, edge, fun and class on top of everything else. The company revealed the new hot-shot at the Tokyo Motor Show and sales started in December that same year. The construction platform was heavily based on that of the Carina model that was exclusive to Japan; and it was the direct successor of the Sports 800 that was around for the 1965-69 period. At first you had 4 edition to choose from – ET, LT, ST and GT (3 here in the US; no entry-level ET) – and, as for the body, a hardtop notchback coupe was the only available pick. The SV-1 liftback debuted a year later, again, at the Tokyo show. The Celica GT was the next big thing: it was pretty different from the other models and featured power windows, hood flutes and a unique GT trim (oh, and let’s not forget about then-awesome air conditioning). On the North-American market this stud was available with a single-cam engine and a choice between a manual and an automatic transmission.
Countless Editions And Configurations
In ’72 the company introduced a GTV edition, which basically was a less luxurious version of the GT and came with a stronger suspension, boasting greater handling. Now, if you’re into breaking it down even further (into 2 models), let me clear the air for you real quick: the first line-up was in production from 1970 to 1975, had a 2TG, 1.6-lit or a 2.0-lit engine and a slant nose; the second one came around in ’76, with a longer wheelbase and a flat nose. As for the American market, the first-ever Celica Toyota (the ST edition) arrived in 1971, packing a 1.8-lit 8R under the hood. GT and LT (market as a low-budget pick) came a bit later – in ’74. Obviously, there were tons of updates/upgrades throughout the years, but not significant enough for us to talk about. The liftback arrived on the Japanese market in 1973. The American liftback hit the dealerships with the 1976 Toyota Celica, offered as a GT with a 2.2-lit engine. Fun fact: this exact model was known as the “Japanese Mustang”, simply because it looked a lot like the Ford superstar. One final thing: in ’75 the entire Celica family went through a facelift. For the 1976-’77 period, the Japan-exclusive GT liftback became available with a mighty twin-cam engine, packed with running gear and a Yamaha head, pumping out 134 Horsepower at 6K RPM. So, that’s the first truly impressive Toyota Celica HP numbers for y’all. And now let’s move on to the 2nd gen.
The Second Generation – 49 Editions And Variations (1977-1981)
The 1977 Toyota Celica introduced the second gen to the world and was – again – offered as a coupe and a liftback. Fun fact: the exterior/interior design was done by the California-based Calty Research Design studio. As for the coupe, it wasn’t a 100% hardtop and it had frameless door glass (same goes for the liftback). For the 1979-81 period the Griffith company here in America was offering a Targa-influenced convertible form for the coupe. The top was removable and the rear roof was foldable just like in the legendary Porsche 911 form the ’60s. Now, these babies were “legit”, as they say today, officially approved and sold by the big T’s dealerships. Overall, about 2K units were manufactured. By the way, if you’re a big coupe fan and wanna learn about all the Toyota models, check out my review. Alright, back to the chronology: the 2nd-gen can also be divided into 2 models, and we know them as Series A and Series B. The important thing to know is they were identical in terms of the powertrain – the only difference was in the design (or, rather, the appearance). The Series A featured round head-lights and stylish chrome bumpers. It was like the entry-level line-up, if you want to know the truth.
The Toyota Celica Series B, US Grand Prix, GTA and Supra
The luxury grades – the GT in Japan and all in America – came with black bumpers (the rubber bumpers). On the other hand, the Series B featured square headlights and different tail-lights. The North-American models were powered by a 2.2-lit L 20R engine, both the Toyota Celica GT and ST editions. This new “breed” was a lot safer, reliable, strong and fuel-efficient than the previous models. By the way, Motor Trend named it the Import Car of the Year in ’78. In 1980 Toyota released the limited US Grand Prix” GT liftback, while in ’81 the North-American models received a mightier engine, a 2.4-lit 22R. Next, the GTA was built, as a celebration of the 10th anniversary. Fun fact: by 1979 there were 49 (!) versions of the Celica available! Now, if you’re worried about me missing the Celica Supra, don’t be – I’ve got you covered. The Mark 1 Toyota Supra/Toyota Celica XX debuted in 1978 in the US and in ’79 in Japan. If you wanna learn more about the legendary Supra’s history, check out my review. Oh, and yes – the Celica Camry came around in 1980, too. And that’s about it for the second generation, folks, now it’s time to talk about the…3rd one! Wait, one more thing: if you’re looking to buy a Celica hatchback today, in 2016, you gotta look in the 1st and the 2nd gen (partially the 3rd), because that’s where the meat and potatoes are.
The Third Generation – Rolling In And Scoring Big (1981-1985)
Toyota Celica 1980 jump-started the third generation. The shoppers had a choice between a notchback coupe and a littback, with the latter being the most popular pick. The American-made convertible edition came around in ’84. The powertrain boasted a 2.4-lit 22R/22E for the US market, with the other countries getting smaller units. By the way, that 2.4-lit 4-cyl engine was the biggest 4-cylinder to ever get under the hood of a Celica. Plus, this time around we got significant updates to overall styling. As for the trim levels, the Japanese got the most of them, including the entry-level SV, ST, ST-EFI, SX, GT (obviously), and GT Rally. Since 1982 (August) fuel-injection was made standard for all the North-American models. The same year the company introduced the Toyota Celica GTS here in the States to get the model back into the sports game (it kinda lost its cool when it grew bigger and heavier with the previous 2 generations). This good-looking stud featured 14×7 wheels, big-bad tires, independent rear suspension, a sporty cabin/interior with unique seats and tons of other stuff that came from another iconic sprinter – the Toyota Celica Supra. The funny thing is, the Supra was originally based on the Celica, so, go figure, right? 🙂
The Legendary Toyota Celica GTS And The GT-T
I gotta also point out that the liftbacks of both cars looked almost identical. By the way, I mentioned the wheels a bit earlier, and it needs to be said that the wheels on the brand-new GTS really clicked with the fans, because they reminded them of the very first generation, keeping that classic touch while still looking sportier and more up-to-date. Fun fact: back in 1984 ASC (American Specialty Cars) built 200 convertibles, while next year they hit the market with 4248 (aha, that’s the exact number) Toyota Celica GTS 1985 units. Now that’s what I call an instant success! As for the traditional model, it was facelifted in August ’83, receiving fully-retractable headlights, an updated grille and revised rear lamps. The Japanese, European and Australian editions came packed with rear side vents, which are – oddly enough – highly sought after by the fan here in the United States. In 1982 the Japanese market got the Celica turbo, the GT-T, packed with a 1.8-lit engine and a five-speed manual transmission. 200 units were made to be able to participate in the WRC (World Rally Championship). And that’s about all the exciting facts about this one. At the end of the day, it’s safe to say that the Celica GTS from the 3rd gen became an icon in its own right, making the auto enthusiasts and the critics shed some gear-happy tears of joy. I’m sure I would do the same if I was a grown man back then – sadly (or fortunately) I was just a baby, so, call me not interested at the time :).
The Fourth Generation – The Arrival Of The GT-4 (1985-1989)
The 85 Toyota Celica was a whole new thing, transforming the model completely. You had an all-new car in your hands, with a rounder, smoothed out body, FWD (front-wheel drive), and a line-up of new 2.0-lit 4-cyl engines. The model was no longer based upon the Toyota A platform and switched back to the T platform from the Corona, with the “A” becoming exclusive to the aforementioned Supra. Now, the 1986 Toyota Celica was a special one, because that’s when the company rolled in with what is known as the “Ultimate Celica”, the GT-4, taking the Japanese dealership(s) by storm. This bad boy came with AWD (all-wheel drive) and a turbocharged 2.0-lit 4-cylinder, good for 190 Horsepower, thus becoming the flagship of the whole line-up and Toyota’s strongest rally car for all years of production. We, the Americans, got the export edition, called the All-Trac Turbo, in 1987 (so, now you see why it has such a big value among car collectors and the fans), coming at 190BHP and 190 pound-feet of torque. The ST 165 chassis that was used in the GT-Four was a pretty big shot back in the day, and so the team behind it never did anything drastic to the suspension.
The American Market’s Heroes – The ST, GT, GT-S & The All Trac
Speaking of Rally races, the GT-4 debuted the World competitions in the 1988 Tour de Corse and came it at #6 (pretty good for a debut, huh?) The first #1 was earned in the Cyprus, same year, while the first WRC golden medal came in 1989 Rally Australia. Yep, it was not only a good-looking model with tons of appeal and that testosterone to go along with it, but it also proved to be quite a strong racing car. By the way, see my post and learn about the fastest sprinters from the Japanese giant. Here in the States we had a choice between 3 trim levels, including the ST (coupe only), GT and GT-S (both available as a coupe and as a liftback). Plus, the GT was offered as a convertible since 1987. As for the GT-4, we got it 2 years later than the Japanese. Wait, there was one more edition available, and that was the Turbo All-Trac. The Canadians called it the Turbo 4WD and it was the North-American name of the – aha, you guessed it – GT-4. This hustler was equipped with a DOHC turbo-charged 2.0-lit engine, featuring water-to-air intercooling and T VIS, pumping out 190 Horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission was a five-speed AWD one, with a curb weight of ~3200 lbs.
The Fifth Generation – Sleeker And Stronger Than Ever (1989-1993)
The 5th gen was revealed in September 1989 and featured an even rounder and smoother body than the 4th gen, with updated wheels/tires, a stronger GT-4 (the All-Trac here in America), and more. The team behind this new generation said that the round shape and lack of straight edges whatsoever allowed for increased strength, while the overall weight remained the same as before. The Japanese GT-4 boasted a strong powertrain, capable of 221 Horsepower and 224 pound-feet of torque, thanks to a ceramic turbine and aggressive ignition advance – yep, the engineers knew how to make the car go faster, that’s for sure. As for the entry-level ST, it came packed with a 1.6-lit 4-cylinder unit, while the GT and GT-S models had the 2.2-liter under those shiny hoods. Fun fact: the 2.2-lit unit was specifically designed to achieve more low-end torque, which got a lot of praise from the American customers. The All-Trac Turbo was powered by the 2.0-lit 3S-GTE, good for 200BHP and 200 lb-ft of torque. The Toyota Celica 1990 line-up introduced the convertible and wider-body liftback editions of the GT-4 A for the Japanese market (it also got a super-cool SLSS – Super Live Sound System – with ten speakers to really blaze that music rolling down the block). In December that same year the 20th Anniversary GTR rolled in to celebrate the 20th year of production. Twenty years, my friends! That’s a lot, especially by the industry standards.
The Most Expensive And Most Powerful Celica To Date
The Celica convertible (the standard edition, not the fancy one) was created by the ASC (American Sunroof Corporation) in Cali and was known as the GT in the States and the Type G in Japan. So, that was it for the 1990 Toyota Celica. Fun fact: did you know that back in the day there used to be a Celica GT-Four V? It was an economical edition, with a narrow body, without that Sound System with 10 speakers, leather, fancy alloy wheels and more; but, it still had power windows, a sunroof (that was optional) and fog lights. All those goodies, including that mighty ten-speaker system, a sunroof and a leather-wrapped interior were optional on the GTS and the All-Trac for the 1990-92 period. With the ’93 model it all became standard, so, if you, by chance, were thinking about buying a 1992 Toyota Celica, please, don’t! Go for the next-year edition! As for the GT-4/All-Trac, it featured cruise control, a cool sporty cabin/interior, a power-operated driver’s seat and more as standard equipment, so, it’s no wonder why it was the most expensive Celica car available at the moment. Furthermore, with a 2.0-lit turbocharged engine under the hood, good for 200HP, it was also the strongest edition from the line-up to ever hit the American dealerships. Now, if you ask me, I’ll tell you that a 1991 Toyota Celica GT convertible is one hell of a purchase today and you’ll have tons of fun driving it around – if you’re into that kind of thing, of course.
The Sixth Generation – One Step Closer To Becoming A Legend (1993-1999)
The Toyota Celica car line-up entered the 6th gen in October 1993, switching styling once again and going for that critically acclaimed Supra look: you had 4 round-round head-lights and everything, which instantly reminded of the other masterpiece from the Japanese manufacturer. At first the customers had only the liftback and the notchback to pick from – the convertible arrived to the ball a bit later. Safety was a main concern with the new generation, and standard equipment included anti-lock brakes and driver/passenger airbags. For us Yanks the Celica was only offered in ST and GT trims, however, the optional Sports package for the GT-liftback turned it into a real-world GT-S. The ST trim featured a 1.8-lit 7A-FE engine that was also used in the friendly Corolla, while the GT trim used the good-old 2.2-lit 5S-FE with direct fuel-injection and dual overhead camshafts, also found in yet another “ally” – the legendary Camry. The Toyota Celica ST205 GT-4 was released in February 1994, with the convertible arriving in autumn that same year. Sad fact: the turbocharged All-Trac was taken out of production here in the US for some unknown reason. On the other hand, the GT-4 lived on in Japan, Europe, Britain and Australia, with the team behind it gearing up to create the most powerful Celica model to date (I know we had that before, but this one was even stronger), with an impressive output of 239 Horsepower (251HP on the Japanese market), an aluminum-only hood for weight reduction, a superior turbocharger and Super Strut suspension – the fun stuff, to put it in plain English.
Letting Go And Bringing Back
This stud was Toyota’s next Word Rally contestant and it performed handsomely, however, the team was banned from participation because of some mumbo-jumbo with the car’s turbocharging. I don’t even want to get into the technical stuff, just wanted y’all to know about this fun fact (although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t funny for the folks who made it). The new convertible was introduced with the 1994 Toyota Celica. It was based on the GT coupe and built, again, by ASC. I hope I don’t have to tell y’all that it looked awesome and made you feel like a million bucks, right? In 1995 Toyota Celica introduced some minor updates for the Japanese line-up, with new rear lamps and a rear spoiler and a fancy new design for the front bumper (for the FWD models). Next year the export models got the same new features/designs as the Japanese ones, with a few differences, of course, to keep it all interesting. In 1997 Toyota let go of the GT coupe here in the States, while the ST edition said goodbye a year later (but the GT notchback coupe got back in, though). The 1999 Toyota Celica line-up was left only with the GT liftback/convertible, plus, the company released official pictures of a XYR conceptual prototype, which turned out to be the seventh generation.
The Seventh Generation – Only The Legendary Stuff (1999-2006)
So, the 7th gen – last one to date – hit the showrooms in late 1999. It looked A LOT like the XYR concept, except the front bumper/rear spoiler were different. Fun fact: Toyota had one goal with this one – create a lightweight and affordable vehicle that would appeal to the younger generation: you had cheap plastic for the sunroofs against the standard glass, power window/door lock controls were place in the center…stuff like that. I think you already know that, but let me say it again: the 2005 Toyota Celica was the last edition of this legendary sports car, with the last unit hitting the dealerships in 2006 (April 1st, actually), after spending 36 years and seven generations making folks happy and excited. I mean, it was a dream car for a whole generation, maybe even two, if you count in the kids like me :). On the North-American market the 2000 Toyota Celica was available in 2 configurations: the entry-level GT and the high-performance GT-S. All models were only offered in liftback “forms” and were equipped with dual front airbags, DRL (daytime running-lights) and power door locks/window switches (“glued” on the center console for reduced cost). By 2001 the GT-S was named the best sports coupe by US Consumer Reports (the most reliable sporty car in 2002) and the most wanted sports coupe under 30K by Edmunds.com. Not bad, right?
Good Sales in 2000, Poor Sales In 2005
As for the options, you had ABS, fog lights, a better JBL sound-system, leather seats, and even a hatchback cargo cover, and more. The GT was packed with a 1ZZ-FE unit, good for 140BHP and 125 lb-ft of torque, while the GT-S was powered by a 2ZZ-GE, capable of 180BHP and 133 pound-feet of torque. The 2001 Toyota Celica was pretty much the same as the previous edition, and so was the next one. As for the 2003 Toyota Celica, only minor updates were introduced, nothing major: the interior was beefed up a bit and the front/rear fascias were updated. As I mentioned earlier, in 2004 (July) the company officially announced the plan to stop production of the Celica and the MR2 here in the States due to poor year-end sales. Despite the fact that back in 2000 sales hit an all-time record of 52.4K units, numbers dropped heavily in 2003 (14.8K), with only 8.7K sales in 2004 and 3.1K in 2005. That was partially because of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the “bubble economy” in Japan. You had Mazda RX-7, Nissan 240SX and other majors in the game hitting the sack. What can I say – the numbers don’t lie! I guess folks just got a bit tired of the mighty line-up of sports cars, because we had so much of them back then. Today, 10 years later, the demand is slowly rising, and, by my wild guess, in 2020 it will be stronger than ever…
Toyota Celica 2014, 2015 and 2016
Ok, folks, this is that “I think the next president will be…” game that we all love to play. Gotta say upfront that the Toyota Celica 2014 didn’t pan out, and 2015 was kinda event-less too, until it wasn’t: yep, I am happy to say that last year a whole new set of rumors/speculations hit the net about Toyota finally bringing the legendary nameplate back. You can read all about it here. I sure hope it’s coming, folks, because the Japanese mogul is a known teaser and you can’t really trust a new concept car to hit mass production unless you see it with your own eyes. I for one would love to see them getting back into the sports cars game and rolling out not only with the new Celica, but also the new Supra (the FT-1 concept, anyone?) and – why not – a new MR2. Yep, I’m kind of a day-dreamer, but hey, don’t tell me you aren’t! Akio Toyoda, the current CEO, is known for being highly pragmatic, efficient and “futuristic”, so, who knows, maybe we’ll get to drive at least one of the mentioned comeback-cars. In any case, the models from the 90’s-’00s will always stay in our hearts as the best of the best – legends. And this concludes our trip down the memory lane. We arrived at our destination and can take our different roads. But it was fun, huh?
See this video: Toyota Celica: Japan’s Forgotten Fastback