Junkyard Find: 1980 Toyota Celica Coupe

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

When did Toyota drop the “Celica Dragon” emblem?

I neglected to photograph the 20R engine under the hood, but let’s contemplate the idea of a sporty car with such a truck-ish powerplant. Yes, the R engines were just about impossible to kill, verging on Chrysler Slant Six-grade levels of abuse tolerance, but they were better-suited to dragging a Hilux loaded with a dozen AK-wielding mujahideen through the Khyber Pass than for the smooth-running/high-revving exploits you want for a sports car. At least Celica owners got full gauges.

And this luxurious ashtray!

This car was a runner until very recently, if we are to judge by this not-yet-expired Berkeley parking permit. Perhaps the car was found parked in the wrong residential area and towed away with extreme prejudice; that’s how Berkeley rolls when it comes to parking enforcement.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Dvdlgh Dvdlgh on Feb 10, 2012

    Looking at the C pillar, I believe the one on the left is a Supra. 1981 maybe.

  • Bader Bader on Sep 21, 2023

    Hi I want the driver side lights including the bazl and signal

  • Kosmo Love it. Can I get one with something other than Subaru's flat four?
  • M B When the NorthStar happened, it was a part of GM's "rebuilding" of the Cadillac brand. Money to finance it was shuffled from Oldsmobile, which resulted in Olds having to only facelift its products, which BEGAN its slide down the mountain. Olds stagnated in product and appearances.First time I looked at the GM Parts illustration of a NorthStar V-8, I was impressed AND immediately saw the many things that were expensive, costly to produce, and could have been done less expensively. I saw it as an expensive disaster getting ready to happen. Way too much over-kill for the typical Cadillac owner of the time.Even so, there were a few areas where cost-cutting seemed to exist. The production gasket/seal between the main bearing plate and the block was not substantial enough to prevent seeps. At the time, about $1500.00 to fix.In many ways, the NS engine was designed to make far more power than it did. I ran across an article on a man who was building kits to put the NS in Chevy S-10 pickups. With his home-built 4bbl intake and a 600cfm Holley 4bbl, suddenly . . . 400 horsepower resulted. Seems the low hood line resulted in manifolding compromises which decreased the production power levels.GM was seeking to out-do its foreign competitors with the NS design and execution. In many ways they did, just that FEW people noticed.
  • Redapple2 Do Hybrids and be done with it.
  • Redapple2 Panamera = road porn.
  • Akear What an absurd strategy. They are basically giving up after all these years. When a company drinks the EV hemlock failure is just around the corner.