The Toyota Celica was a sports car produced by Toyota Motor Co from 1970 to 2006. The name “Celica” is derived from the Latin “coelica” or “coelicus“, meaning “celestial”.
At the Tokyo Motor Show in late 1970, the A20 Celica debuted with the intention of being a touring car above the Corolla in the Toyota lineup, as well as being the Japanese version of the Ford Mustang. Initially, the Celica was available only as a 2-door notchback (coupe), and motive power came from 1.4-liter and 1.6-liter inline-4s. The top-of-the-line for this generation was the 1600 GT, VIN number TA22.
The Celica was given a refresh in 1973, gaining a liftback/hatchback body style. New engine choices included a 1.9L, 2.0L, and 2.2L. The North American Celica gained the liftback version in 1976. The new top-trim was the 2.2L 2200 GT model.
August 1977 saw the introduction of the second generation Celica, the A40 series, and retained both the coupe and hatchback models as standard. Although initially the Celica featured round headlights, it was redesigned right away in 1979. This facelifted model would have square lights. Also new that year was the Celica XX (also called “Celica Supra“), which featured a longer wheelbase and other dimensional changes in order to compete against Nissan’s Z-car. This model would soon become its own lineup, separate from the Celica altogether. Also in Japan, 1980 saw the introduction of a 4-door sedan called Celica Camry, which would also eventually become its own lineup.
The A60 generation debuted in August 1981 for the 1982 model year. North American Celicas gained fuel injection as standard equipment. This generation’s wheelbase was the same as the previous model, at 2500 mm (98 in), but exterior length increased to 4435 mm (174.6 in).
August 1983 saw a refresh to the Celica, including retractable (hide-away) headlights, a trend that was popular mostly throughout the 1980’s. American Specialty Cars built convertible Celicas from 1984 to 1985 for North America.
The T160 Celica differed vastly from its prior counterparts. New in 1986 was the front wheel drive configuration, whereas pervious Celicas were rear wheel drive. Optional on some models was four wheel drive. The epitome of high-performance Celicas was the GT-Four, called Turbo All-Trac in North America, which employed this 4WD technology. The GT-Four/Turbo All-Trac was the ST165 model (the top-of-the-line), and with its prestigious 4WD technology also came the turbocharged 3S-GTE 2.0-liter. For this generation Celica, this unit was capable of outputting 182 – 190 horsepower. The base model was the AT160 with the 1.6L 4A-F/4A-GE.
September 1989 saw the debut of the T180 Celica, the fifth generation. This model saw a differentiation between its two liftback body styles; one narrow-body, and the other wide-body, depending on the model. The high-performance GT-Four, Turbo All-Trac, and Turbo 4WD were wide-body. This generation’s narrow-body liftback was a tad narrower than the previous gen: 1705 mm versus 1710 mm. The wide-body was notably wider (at 1745 mm), and rightly so for performance reasons: the 2.0L 3S-GTE was upgraded to gather up to 232 horsepower for the top-of-the-line GT-Four RC and the European-market Turbo 4WD Carlos Sainz Limited Edition. Carlos Sainz is a Spanish rally-race driver who, in 1990, drove the Celica GT-Four to 1st place victory in the World Rally Championship that year. He again lead Toyota Team Europe to 1st place again in a Celica Turbo 4WD in 1992.
Some Japanese-spec Celicas came with a four-wheel-steering (4WS) option, which enhanced handling. The “4WS” lineup included the 4WS S-R, 4WS Z-R, 4WS GT-R, Active Sports, 4WS Convertible, and 4WS Convertible Type G, all of which had the VIN code ST183. North America did not get any 4WS Celica models.
October 1993 saw the debut of the T200 Celica. This model had notorious bug-eye style round headlights, like the third generation Acura Integra that also debuted that year. Although exterior dimensions would vary depending on model, the width was the same throughout the lineup at 1750 mm (68.9 in). This made the T200 Celica 5 mm wider than the wide-body T180. The Celica was still in the high-performance rally racing game, this time producing well over 250 horsepower out of the 3S-GTE for its ST205 GT-Four model. North America did not get a GT-Four/Turbo All-Trac for this generation, but instead had the ST204 as its top-line model. The ST204 employed the 2.2-liter 5S-FE capable of 135 horsepower for its “GT” model. The base model was the AT200, which employed the 1.8-liter 7A-FE. Production of the T200 would last through June of 1999.
July 1999 saw the introduction of the T230 generation. It had a longer wheelbase at 2600 mm, but was narrower, at 1735 mm. As this generation Celica did not participate in rally racing, there was no seriously powerful 2.0-liter in the lineup. Instead, it got two 1.8L engines: 1ZZ-FE and 2ZZ-GE. In North America, the Celica came in two trims: GT and GT-S. The GT got the 1ZZ-FE, which developed 140 hp @ 6400 rpm; the GT-S got the 2ZZ-GE, which featured VVTL-i (Variable Valve Timing and Lift control with Intelligence). This amped the motor’s output to 180 horsepower. Some 2003-2004 Celicas came with an available “Action Package”, which added a supercharger to the Celica’s engine. Included in the Action Package were goodies such as dampers, anti-sway bars, disc brake pads, custom exhaust, and an exterior body kit. The Celica did not have a chance when it came to export sales after 2005 – North American sales halted there. The Japanese-domestic and European Celica would remain selling through the end of its production run in April 2006.