One night back in August of 2013, I was on my way to one of my preferred Mexican restaurants for some takeout pico de gallo and homemade chips to enhance movie night. I detoured through a residential area to avoid a feckless snail on the main road. In so doing, I saw what appeared to be a late-’70s or early-’80s Celica.
Wow. That’s not something you see in the Midwest these days. Those early Japanese cars may have had robust engines, but rustproofing was, shall we say, not ideal? At any rate, most ’70s and early ’80s Toyotas, Datsuns and Hondas were either gone or seriously Swiss-cheesed here by the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Of course, as it was dark, there was to be no picture taking, but I made a mental note to return, and did so, later that week.
The all-new 1978 Celica replaced the Mini-Me 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.
Early models had quad round headlamps, but a modest 1981 facelift brought quad rectangular headlamps, parking lamps and a more square-rigged grille, thus pegging our alloy-wheeled, fog-lamped example as an ’80 or ’81 model.
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.
Well, that’s really all I can say about these. You know my preferences run to various and sundry gigantic Lincolns, Cadillacs and Chrysler New Yorkers, ha ha.
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!