The Celica was a key player in the establishment and popularity of the compact sporty coupe segment. It arrived in 1971 along with the very popular Capri and the Opel Manta, and quickly established itself thanks to its typical Toyota qualities of quality construction and materials and attractive pricing along with a stylish, Japanese interpretation of a smaller pony car. It lacked the handling prowess of the two Germans, but it continued to improve thanks to a stream of refinements. The ultimate version arrived in 1975, with the all-new 2.2 L 20R SOHC four with cross-flow head. It didn’t really up the net hp rating much, to 96 (net), but a stouter torque curve made it decidedly brisker. And in 1975, that was rather bucking the trend. And handling was improved too.
Performance was improved, with almost a full second shaved off its predecessor’s time. 12.6 seconds nowadays sounds mighty slow, but everything is relative. the 5 speed transmission came in for the usual high praise.
The typical high-quality interior and other aspects also came in for praise, and its worth noting that these Celicas can still be found on the streets in front-line beater service, unlike its German competitors.
The Celica’s handling was finally closer to excellent, with the beefier radials compensating to a large extent to whta had always been the Celica’s weakness: understeer.
Speaking of these Celicas, I just had the pleasure to read Aaron Severson’s typically-superb new article on the Celica at ateupwithmotor.com. It’s chock-full of in-depth details, a real treat for lovers of vintage Japanese cars. Don’t miss it.