More than just an extended-use report, as R&T did some (slight) chassis modifications to the Celica.
From the 1980 February issue:
Re-reading this reminds my why I liked these so much. The line about its “European styling” is a bit off, as this Celica was totally styled at Toyota’s new California Calty design studio, the first Toyota with American styling.
There’s still a number of these soldiering along here; they’re every bit as tough as a Toyota pickup of the same era, sharing their drive train.
They do don’t they. As soon as a friend of mine brings his down from Santa Rosa, and gets the car smogged, I will be buying it from him with 134,000 miles. It is a 1978 yellow 5 spd. Liftback that was running very lean and flunked NOX.
These were quite handsome in their day, and still are. I didn’t have the $$$ then, or I might have bought one. The Supra was the more powerful version, right?
I tend to agree. My parents had a 1979 Toyota Celica GT. It wasn’t a Liftback, but it served us well. I believe it had a 5 spd. manual shifting gearbox, and a 20R 2.2 litre 4 cylinder engine. I was too young at the time to drive, so I couldn’t learn how to drive it. But I remember enjoying the car.
These things rusted to brown powder decades ago in Ohio…cool cars, just not very durable from the corrosion protection perspective.
True, as there wasn’t much in the way of protection on the backside of the body panels. The Liftbacks also had your typical issue associated with those kind of rakish rear windows. Water pooling and breaking through the two lower corners.
My twin cousins both got the Celica ST, which impressed me at the time as solid, well-built cars. But the Celica could’ve done without that fat aluminum B-pillar trim, which Ford unwisely copied for its US Escort.
Toyota ads at the time touted the Celica’s “spherical” door glass. The glass is curved both top to bottom and front to back.
True, a nice bit of glasswork, but a nuisance for anyone trying to use a squeegee, as for example the hatchback window of the XV10 Camry Wagon, which had to be cleaned often. Visualize a line tangent to a curve at one point. Here is one valid downside to “jelly-mold” styling.
“Toyota ads at the time touted the Celica’s “spherical” door glass. The glass is curved both top to bottom and front to back.”
In an unrelated story, there are accounts of Toyota window-track engineers driven to alcoholism…
My sister’s 1st Japanese car (and the 1st owned by any member of my large family) was an 80 Celica hardtop. Pretty nice little car, a reasonable competitor to a 4 cylinder Mustang of the same vintage….but better built than the Ford. Her’s had an automatic transmission and so was no ball of fire, definitely a “chick’s car”, but in the right color I wouldn’t mind owning one….but preferably a hatchback like the one pictured.
This generation of Celica has pretty much rusted into oblivion, but examples of the 3rd generation, including a triple black convertible are still running around in my area.
My dad had one of these in the mid 80s, I think it was a 81 or 82 with the rectangular headlights and the Supra package, before they became a separate model. I remember him letting me shift the 5 speed once I got old enough to move the shifter. I thought the styling was better than most Japanese cars of the time, much less angular than the others. He eventually traded it in on an 86 Trans Am which I became quite fond of, even if it was a bit of a lemon.
The style of this generation of Celica (in any bodystyle) has really endured better than most cars of its era, foreign or domestic. I’d love a low-miles “Sunchaser” ASC convertible conversion. These Celicas are one of a handful of decades-old Japanese cars that really gets me going.
I never really was a Toyota fan, but this Supra-YES ! Other than the “James Bond” Toyota 2000 GT,the nicest one ever built.
There was an Celica who chased an Argentine Dodge GTX in a movie titled “Commando Azules”.
I owned a 1979 Celica liftback identical to the one in this review (white over blue with jittery Yokohama tires) and for a year used it mostly to drive between my family’s home in Bethlehem, PA to Bucknell University in Lewisburg a 3 hour drive up the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike and out I80 to Lewisburg. On the NE Extension, just before the Blue Mouintain tunnel, there is a fairly tight curve that lines up the roadaway with the tunnel entrance. At the precise apex of that curve there was one of those concrete buckles that happens when a road surface quickly freezes and thaws (and back), something that commonly afflicts PA roads more than perhaps anywhere else. There was no avoiding it as it crossed both lanes. At 65mph the bump jolts and then lofts the rear of a car which is made all the worse by the fact that you are in the middle of a curve. The Celica’s reaction to this bump was downright scary. The car would hop up and then come crashing back down placing the rear of the car on a different trajectory than the front of the car. The panic you feel is momentary but none-the-less very real. You get the feeling that the twisting the car makes in direction correction might lead to a loss of control flipping the car. This behavior completely undermined my confidence in the car as I started to notice how poorly the car drove even in less extreme conditions.
Finally, I prevailed in getting my father to agree that the car was unsafe and we bought a Peugeot 504 for me as a replacement. This car’s suspension was phenominal. The whole experience made me realize how crucial a competent suspension is for a car and how easy it is for a car maker to get it wrong.
I sometimes wonder if PennDOT ever got around to repairing that imperfection.
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