I had another opportunity to visit United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka last week and, naturally, I brought along my camera for another visit to the “Lemon Lot.”
For our readers under the age of 25, let me tell you a bedtime story. There once was a time when Toyota sold sports cars.
Seriously. The company now best known for beige once offered a fleet of interesting, sporty, high-performance cars. The Celica, Supra, Celica Supra, rear-drive Corollas, FX16 GTS, and MR2 all came from your friendly Toyota dealer. Nowadays, if you want a little pizazz with your “Famous Toyota Reliabilty,” you must wander to the dank corner of the showroom labeled Scion.
In the pre-Playstation days of the early ’90s, most Yanks knew nothing of the glory of an AWD turbocharged powerslide on gravel. I was lucky, as my dad installed a C-band satellite and we watched all kinds of oddball motorsport from around the globe. I especially loved watching Carlos Sainz and his Castrol-liveried Celica ripping up stages.
The homologation special has been around nearly as long as road cars have been built into racers. Nearly every OEM that went racing built street cars that aped the racers, in an effort to make certain parts kosher for the track or stage. Sadly, many of those meant for rally never made it here to the States, as there were few such enthusiasts here.
The first- and second-generation Toyota Celica was to my generation of freshly-minted California drivers (I got my license in 1982) what the early Ford Mustang was to those born a decade earlier: fairly inexpensive and sensible, but still sporty enough to make you feel cool. I drove a ’69 Corona four-door, possibly the uncoolest car a teenager could own at the time, which was to the Celica in 1982 as the six-cylinder Fairlane sedan was to the Mustang in 1972. These days, of course, all the rear-wheel-drive Celicas are considered worth having… unless they’re in rough condition, in which case they are worth little more than scrap value. Here’s an unrusty-but-still-battered ’78, done up in painfully-late-70s Crisis of Confidence Mustard Yellow, sitting in a Denver self-serve yard. (Read More…)
A couple of months ago, Aaron Robinson of Car & Driver wrote an expansive article about Scion.
This quote pretty much summarized his view on the brand.
“I have no doubt that Scion will eventually go the way of Plymouth.”
I’m sure he wasn’t implying that cheap Scions will someday morph their way into becoming Toyota equivalents that offer fake wood trim exterior panels and trombone case red interiors. As a long-time automotive writer and columnist, he was simply reading the proverbial writing on Scion’s firewall that has been ever deeper ingrained into their product line.
The Malaise Era Celica sold very well in the United States as a fuel-efficient-yet-reasonably-sporty commuter vehicle. They were very reliable (by the not-very-high standards of the time), cheap, and easy to repair. Even so, nearly all of them are gone now, save for a few survivors that hung on long enough to stay out of the junkyards until the second decade of the 21st century. Here’s an ’80 that I found at a Northern California self-serve yard last week. (Read More…)
Remember window louvers? They were sort of terrible, yet it’s still interesting to see them on a quasi-sporty Malaise Era car. This Celica ST’s louvers will soon be ground up and digested by The Crusher. (Read More…)