Junkyard Find: 1980 Toyota Celica Coupe

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1980 toyota celica coupe

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.

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  • DenverMike DenverMike on Feb 09, 2012

    Should've kept the Celica RWD and live axle. Simple, inexpensive, fun. Then the bottom fell out of the FWD sports coupe market. The Supra was another mistake. Got pretty fast with the turbo and all but the price was out of this world. Keep it simple, fast, fun but mostly cheap/affordable.

  • Dvdlgh Dvdlgh on Feb 10, 2012

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

  • FreedMike I don't know why this dash shocks anyone - the whole "touchscreen uber alles" thing is pure Tesla.
  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.