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Toyota Celica Car of the Week


At its launch in 1970, the original series 1 Celica set the standard for affordable sports coupes for the younger generation. Utilising an overall layout similar to the Alfa Romeo GTV, the Celica offered good performance with its lightweight design, front-engine rear-wheel drive layout and reliable in-line 4.cylinder engine

While the packaging was borrowed from the Alfa, the styling was very much targeted at the American market. The pillarless hardtop coupe had styling cues from the Chevrolet Camaro, while the Liftback GT introduced in 1976 was often referred to as the Celica Mustang as it utilised many styling cues from the iconic Ford model.

The Celica was first shown in October 1970 at the Tokyo Motor Show, and fast-tracked to the market by December. Public and press reception was very good and the Celica helped Toyota build a reputation as makers of affordable and practical cars that appealed to the enthusiast driver. This reputation continued through until 1986 when the most significant change in the seven generations of production occurred: the introduction of front wheel drive.

However, the first generational change came in 1978 with the series 2. Gone was the pillarless hardtop — replaced with a solid b-pillar. The styling, while well-accepted for the period is not as timeless as the classic series 1. The Series 2 provided more power and better fuel economy and recieved several awards globally, including Motor Trend's "Import Car of the Year".

Series 3 was introduced in 1982 with a very hard-edged styling. This model also saw the introduction of the first Celica turbo. The GT-T was a homologation special to meet the FISA regulation for Group B Rally for the World Rally Championship, 200 were built. The Celica went on to win the 1982 Rally of New Zealand and between 1983 and 1986 it won all six WRC events it entered in Africa.

Introduced in 1986, Series 4 switched to a front-wheel drive layout and in doing so somewhat confused its target market. The Celica went from being clearly a car for the young or young at heart that required practicality while enjoying a stylish drive — to having no clear market focus. The styling left most people underwhelmed.

The more performance oriented buyers continued to be catered for with the four wheel drive rally focused GT-Fours but these where limited production. The average enthusiast shied away from the new layout and the direction the styling department had taken, while the average performance enthusiast in Europe gravitated towards front-wheel drive. The Australian market has closer ties with the Americans who prefer the rear-wheel drive layout.

Series 5 came in 1990 and Toyota introduced its new ‘organic’ styling. The flowing lines and rounded corners were said to introduce strength and structural integrity while keeping weight down. While the new organic style was copied by other manufacturers it polarised opinion here in Australia. The car however remained a moderate success and received good endorsement from the Australian motoring press.

Series 6 was introduced in 1994 and was an evolution of the previous model. The organic design was further refined and incorporated into the headlight treatment. The GT-Four version of the sixth series introduced the most powerful variant produced, the 3S-GTE engine produced 178kW in its Australian configuration. The GT-Four continued a highly successfully rallying career and they are now a desirable collector’s model.

Celica sales were lagging by the end of the millenium and Toyota introduced Project Genesis to try to attract the younger buyers back. The Celica was one of three Toyota models chosen for specialised targeted advertising, the other two were the MR2 and Echo. All three are now longer in production.

The seventh series Celica introduced a mixture of flowing lines and hard edge creases, which again was an extreme re-direction in styling. During this period the ‘tuner’ enthusiast movement was in full swing and the Celica failed to capture a share of that lucrative market. Most of the available buyers headed to Nissan with their 200SX - a rear wheel drive platform.

Production of the Celica ceased in 2005. But enthusiasts still hold out hope for a return - potentially with the often vaunted partnership with Subaru to develop a new rear wheel drive platform.

All seven series present a good option for budget conscious buyers - many have been well-maintained as the Celica has attracted a keen brand loyalty. Poorly-maintained cars in general should be avoided unless you are looking for a cheap project car.

 

Series One: A20/35 Series - 1970-1977

Body Types

notchback coupe

2-door hardtop

Layout

Front engine - Rear drive

Engines

1.4 L T I4

1.6 L 2T I4

1.9 L 8R I4

2.0 L 18R I4

2.2 L 20R I4

Transmissions

4-speed W40 manual

5-speed W50 manual

3-speed A40 automatic

Length: 4171 mm

Width: 1600 mm

Curb weight: 890 kg Early Coupe

1166 kg - Liftback

 

Series 2: A40 Series - 1978-1981

Body types

3-door liftback

2-door coupe

Layout

Front engine - Rear drive

Engines

2.2 L I4 20R

2.4 L I4 22R

1.6 L I4

1.8 L I4

2.0 L I4

Transmissions

3 speed A40 automatic ('78-'80)

4-speed A40D automatic ('81)

5 speed W50 manual

 

Series 3: A60 Series - 1982-1985

Body types

3-door liftback

2-door coupe

Layout

Front engine - Rear drive

Engines

1.9 L I4 21R

2.4 L I4 22R

2.4 L I4 22RE

2.0 L I4

1.6 L I4

1.8 L I4

Transmissions

4-speed A40D automatic

5 speed W58 manual

 

Series 4: T160 Series - 1985-1989

Body types

3-door liftback

2-door coupe

Layout

Front engine, Front Wheel Drive / 4WD

Platform: T160

Engines

1.6 L I4 4A-GE

1.8 L I4 4S-Fi

2.0L I4 2S-FE (1986 only)

2.0 L I4 3S-FE

2.0 L I4 3S-GE

2.0 L turbo I4 3S-GTE

Transmissions

4-speed automatic

5-speed manual

Wheelbase: 99.4 in (2525 mm)

Length: 4409 mm coupe - 4366 mm liftback

Width: 1709 mm

Height: 1265 mm

 

Series 5: T180 Series - 1990-1993

Layout

Front engine, Front Wheel Drive / 4WD

Engines

1.6 L 4A-FE I4

2.0 L 3S-FE & 3S-GE I4

2.0 L turbo 3S-GTE I4

2.2 L 5S-FE I4

Transmissions

4-speed automatic

5-speed manual

Length

Coupe: 4470 mm

Normal body Liftback: 4409 mm

Wide body Liftback: 4420 mm

Width

1990 ST Coupe:1689 mm

1991-93 Coupe, normal body Liftback: 1704 mm

Wide body Liftback: 1745 mm

Height Liftback FF: 1280 mm

Coupe, Liftback 4WD: 1285 mm

 

Seriess 6: T200 Series - 1994-1999

Body types 3-door liftback

2-door notchback - coupé

Layout

Front engine, Front Wheel Drive / 4WD

Engines

1.8 L 7A-FE I4

2.0 L 3S-FE & 3S-GE I4

2.0 L turbo 3S-GTE I4

2.2 L 5S-FE I4

Transmissions

4-speed automatic

5-speed manual

Wheelbase: 2537 mm

Length: Coupe 4496 mm

Liftback: 4425 mm

Width: 1750 mm

Height 1295 mm

Liftback: 1290 mm

 

Series 7: T230 series - 2000-2005

Body styles

3-door liftback

Front engine, Front Wheel Drive

Engines

1.8 L 1ZZ-FE I4

1.8 L 2ZZ-GE I4

Transmissions

4-speed automatic

5-speed manual

6-speed manual

Wheelbase 2601 mm

Length: 4331 mm

Width: 1735 mm

Height: 1306 mm

 

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