Finding a CC-worthy car at night is always a crapshoot. Nighttime photography by complete amateurs such as your favourite air-cooled author doesn’t usually make for great results, especially when the subject car is dark. On this one, though, I got kind of lucky. White cars aren’t my thing, but in December at 6pm, they’re a welcome sight and are susceptible to digital capture.
This was the swansong of the classic Celica. By classic, I mean RWD, of course. Classic in the mechanical sense. Shape-wise, as far as I’m concerned, the classic Celica is the first generation only. These cold and plastic-ridden origami designs, though they definitely stand out of the crowd in this day and age, are far less appealing to me.
Still, this little wedge is now entirely devoid of charm. The concealed headlights and that lowered greenhouse do work very well together. It’s like they took the Triumph TR7 and ironed out all the BL (or should that be “BS”?) out of it. And that includes the car’s internals, too. Unlike the Triumph, the Celica’s 4-cyl. had both reliability and potency in spades.
Our feature car has probably the most desirable engine ever put in a non-Supra RWD Celica. It’s a 1.8 litre DOHC twin spark version of the Toyota T engine. This one also has a hemi head, EFI and a water-cooled turbocharger to produce 160 hp. Transmission was a 5-speed manual, naturally. For the purpose of WRC homologation, there was a GT-TS version too. It had a 180 hp engine, but with only 200 made, those are near unicorn-level.
Is this the best version of this 3rd-generation Celicas one is likely to see on the street? Most likely. It’s certainly very much of its time, if nothing else. And I prefer this notchback rear end to the hatchback one, though that’s entirely down to one’s personal taste. This looks a bit like the “formal” roofline seen on far too many American designs of the ‘80s, but executed with far more flair (and less formality).
The main issue with nighttime shoots is that interior pics are just impossible. So we’ll have to do with an excerpt from the Celica’s JDM catalogue. I didn’t even bother trying to peek inside, so I can’t tell you what the upholstery might have looked like. That striped fabric on the bottom pic is quite an eyeful… I kinda like it!
But since this is the sporty version, I bet it had something less pyjama-like inside. Faux black leather and red pinstripes, probably. Entirely appropriate, to be sure, but less amusing. In fact, that’s pretty much how I feel about this Celica in general.
Which is why this post is quite a short one. For one thing, this generation Celicas has been featured on CC multiple times. Besides that, I just cannot find the enthusiasm I feel I should about this particular automobile, though I do recognize its significance and its relative rarity. Just not my thing. Which is a darn shame, as I did manage a few decent pics along the way. Sometimes, the stars just don’t line up perfectly. Celica, you’re breaking my heart.
COAL: 1982 Toyota Celica XX – A Supra By Any Other Nameby Michael Leckie
COAL: 1982 Toyota Celica- How It Felt To Be Cool For Once, by Danny F. Cabrera
CC Outtake: 1985 Toyota Celica Supra – Simply Superb, by Joseph Dennis