Some things in the automotive world make me instantly flash back to the days when I was a mere kid. With some cars, I feel the flush of blood into my cheeks and the excitement in my stomach as I spot them on the street, looking just as good as they did in the showroom, 20-25 years ago. Some cars deserve to be kept in shape, not ruined by modifications or driven into the ground.
The two generations of pop-up headlighted Celicas are in that select group of cars, just as the 3rd generation Supra is. They need to be red, they need to have their original wheels, and the paint needs to be showroom fresh. This Celica I saw yesterday is exactly the way I’d want it to be.
With lustrous red paint that is likely original, the Celica looks fantastic. I’ve always liked the black boomerang stripe on the front, disguising the existence of any kind of headlights. Lights up, the puffy cheeks somewhat give it a gorilla-like face, but flush to the metal the front is beautifully sleek. I recall an old ad with the tagline “Shaped by the wind”, with a black Celica buried in a sand dune; sand never does car paint any favours, but there’s something dune-shaped about the ribbing on the front.
The five-spoke wheels look excellent, being just the right size. The fat spokes give it a good, aggressive stance; you often see Celicas with slimmer or lattice wheels, but these suit it best. With throwing stars, you would have the issue of directional wheels facing the wrong way on the other side; I don’t remember Toyota using sets of left/right-side wheels in the Celica – unlike Subaru with the SVX and Honda with the Prelude.
The shape of the C-pillar was recalled in the Hyundai Coupe/Tiburon later, but somehow the Celica with its higher and fatter sides pulls it off better. The 1989-launched T180 Celica has always looked a bit heavy-set compared to the previous generation, but it’s just due to the more pronounced roundedness.
In Europe, the Celica always was a 3-door coupe, and not the two-door notchback. It definitely looks better in this guise, especially with the wide spoiler.
This particular Celica has survived this clean most likely because it’s a German import. Ones sold here were often sold to yuppie types who mercilessly beat them, selling them on to baseball cap dudes who mercilessly beat them. In Germany, the Celica has probably more often been a housewife’s car, which gives it better odds for surviving in one piece with its interior intact and non-smoked. This probably has a lot less than 200,000 km:s on the clock.
Celicas came with a wide range of engine choices; for the aforementioned housewife, there was the admittedly humdrum 1.6 ST-i. While it had a Carina engine with its 4A-FE and barely made more than 100 horses, it’s still a 16-valve Toyota engine and can be coaxed to extrude performance in the right conditions. Luckily, this GT-i 16 has a 158hp 3S-GE under the hood, which must be perfectly adequate for a FWD coupé its size. One can wish for a GT-Four with a 3S-GTE, but in the land of rally heroes any Celica with a turbo and 4WD will cost a pretty penny – especially the Carlos Sainz limited edition – unless it’s a RHD Japanese import. Here, in this case, what matters most is the condition and I can only really fault the red-sprayed brake calibers and nothing else.
And yeah, the furry mascots will just have to go.
In closing, here’s an ad for the Celica with dunes aplenty.
[youtube width=”720″ height=”385″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2V3VtwmfWY[/youtube]