Alleyside Classic: 1983 Toyota Celica Supra – Terra Cotta Warrior Waiting To Be Discovered

Any of us who write for Curbside Classic know that alleys often contain the really good stuff.  And so it was when I was walking behind one of my rentals in Laramie last week and just a couple of doors down caught sight of this, one of my favorite 80’s cars, the 1983 Toyota Celica Supra, tucked away between a couple of garages.

Yes, while everyone just called it the Supra, even Toyota’s own brochures prominently advertised it as Celica Supra, as did the decklid script in those years.  This particular one, while being the most horrifically sun-bleached one of these I have ever seen, does sport remainders of my favorite hue of this generation, named Terra Cotta if I am not mistaken.  Sitting here undisturbed in this color for who knows how long until finally discovered by me reminded me of that so-called eighth wonder of the world, the Terracotta Army of China.  I had the opportunity to see it myself about eight years ago just outside of Xi’an, China and it completely astounded me as well as everyone else there on the scale of seeing something like the Grand Canyon or similar.  It’s truly hard to fathom until actually seeing with your own eyes.

Discovered by a farmer digging a well in 1974, this literal army of over 8,000 warrior figures along with 130 chariots and around 700 horse figures made of terracotta in life size (!) scale, was created about 2,300 years ago and buried with the emperor at the time.  Archaeologists descended on the site after discovery and eventually the “pits” containing the life-sized figures were covered with large protective structures (see above) and are now open to the public.

After we toured the site, we purchased a couple of sets of small figurines and they are now displayed in our house along with a larger (about 24″ tall) one that sits on the fireplace mantel in my office (above).  We actually got two of these but traveling around the world with them took its toll and this one is the only one of the pair that made it back more or less intact (in three pieces, actually), the other was pretty much pulverized in the box and beyond saving/reassembling.

We still often remark or are asked questions by guests about them and our new house has a niche at the end of a hallway that isn’t really usable for anything but would be perfect for a suit of armor, or….a life-size terracotta warrior!  As it turns out there is an operation near Xi’an that actually reproduces these in the correct size and colors ( and ships them anywhere in the world, so we currently have our own General (already nicknamed “Terry” by the kids) en route in a huge crate (coffin?) that I will be picking up from Denver in a couple of months and then figuring out how to get a 400lb terracotta statue up the staircase and into the niche.

Just as odd, but perhaps not, the last time we were in Las Vegas I walked by a Chinese restaurant in Luxor Casino and was shocked to see a couple of them at the entrance of the restaurant, which pretty much sealed our decision to get our own as they seem to be quality pieces and the perfect size for our space.

But back to this Terra Cotta Warrior of the Japanese sports car persuasion…I’ve always been a fan of most of these rectilinear designs with Ford’s European offerings such as the 80’s Granada and Escort being amongst my favorites and this generation of Celica and Supra, especially with the fender extensions, as well as the Cressida and early 80’s Audi models (Quattro, 80, 100) being right up there as well.

But the Supra especially speaks to me with those fenders, wide wheels, flat nose, and the wing/spoiler over the back window.  And something about how the liftgate on these versions of the Supra (as opposed to the more luxury-oriented narrow-body non-flared fender version) were only available in black for some mysterious reason is just the icing on the cake.

Since it’s not plated I’m assuming it’s waiting for that “some day” for it to be restored or perhaps just repaired but I probably should knock on the door just to find out for sure.  I’d love to own one of these, or, perhaps better stated, I love “the idea” of owning one of these; not sure if I have the time or energy to tackle even modestly restoring a 36-year old Japanese car. Still, this one seems complete, and probably “ran when parked”.

Even with this terribly poor shot of the interior, it doesn’t seem to be in very bad condition, and I do love being ensconced in a completely reddish interior.  The steering wheel along with the fender flares being body color give it away as being a 1983 model, in 1982 the flares were black only and in 1984 the Supra got the more “square” center wheel section.

I’m not picky on the year, any of them from 1982-1985.5 work for me and it being a stick shift to work that 2.8liter inline-6, while my preference, probably wouldn’t be an absolute necessity for me these days either.  Those seats are very comfortable, if I remember correctly there is a way to inflate the lumbar support with a little rubber squeeze bubble on a stalk which was the height of cool to me when I first experienced that some time in high school.

Jeez, the more I look at these pictures, the more I want to run back up there and knock on his door.  Am I alone in liking these here?  Or do others like these as well; are those into 80’s Mustangs and other American cars cognizant of these at all or are they just viewed as another economy car from the far east?

Here’s a random web shot of what it would have looked like many years ago and I suppose could again one day.  This takes me back to high school again; while completely unattainable at that time for me, this to me now is significantly more attractive than the new, just released Supra.  I suppose this is the kind of thing that some members of my generation will be “collecting” at car auctions of the future (and probably are already today, at least online), especially those of us nearer the coasts where this was really much more common than american iron.

To make up for my own poor shot of the interior, here’s another random web shot of a perfect interior.  I think the squeeze bubble bladder thing for the lumbar is just visible to the left of the handbrake and those seats are just reveling in their own bolstery-ness.  Anyway, here’s to hoping my tenant’s neighbor eventually gets around to his Supra.  Otherwise I may be knocking after our “re(al)-production” Chinese terracotta warrior arrives and I find I want another one, but a Japanese Terra Cotta warrior instead this time…