CC Capsule: 1980 Toyota Celica GT – Dusty, But Not Rusty

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It is sometimes amazing how the CC Effect works. The day Steve Lang proposed a Toyota Week, I replied that I had a couple of newer Toys I could write about but not anything from the cool, quirky period of the late ’60s through the mid ’80s. That same evening, on my way to a local Mexican restaurant for some takeout pico de gallo and homemade chips, I saw what appeared to be a late-’70s or early-’80s Celica. And so it was!

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The all-new 1978 Celica replaced the mini-Mustang variant after ’77. It was also the first Toyota designed at the new Calty design studio in California. The look was now smooth and modern, but lacked many of the cool JDM-style detail fillips of its predecessor.

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Early models had quad round headlamps, but a modest 1980 face lift brought rectangular headlamps, parking lamps and a more squarely-rigged grille, thus pegging our alloy-wheeled, fog-lamped example as an ’80 or ’81 model.

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I was struck by how nice this car is; most such Celicas had dissolved before 1990 or so. Nor did it appear to have been restored, meaning it either came from out West or was a babied and garaged toy for most of its life. GTs like this one were powered by the 2.0-liter “20R” inline four-cylinder engine. This one, as is displayed prominently on the rear panel, also has a five-speed. As far as sporting 1980 Toyotas were concerned, this would have been the one to have, if not the similar-but-pricier six-cylinder Supra (CC here).

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Well, that’s really all I can say about these. I think they’re cool, but I have no direct experience with them other than seeing a tobacco-brown one parked across the street from our house in the late 1980s. I was, however, quite surprised to see this one in town–it’s been close to 25 years since I last saw one in the metal–not to mention seeing one in such nice shape!

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