Junkyard Find: 1981 Toyota Celica Liftback

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1981 toyota celica liftback

We saw a fairly solid junked ’80 Celica coupe yesterday, and a good example of its liftback sibling was located in the same California self-service wrecking yard. It’s like a history lesson in Sporty Malaise Era Commuter Cars With Truck Engines!

In fact, these two Celicas are parked side-by-side as they await The Crusher’s jaws. Next stop: the Port of Oakland, where the ground-up remains of these cars will be put on container ships heading to China.

The ’81 was the last of the second-gen Celica s, and the big difference between the ’80 and the ’81 was the upgrade to the 2.4-liter 22R under the hood, a 200cc increase in displacement over the 20R.

These cars weren’t exactly high-performance machines, but they held together pretty well and they came with some nice— for the era— crypto-luxury touches. Check out the herringbone upholstery!

This period was the era of the split between California-emissions-legal cars and “49-state” cars; we’re looking at a car that probably spent its life in California.

The junkyard had this Celica in their “runners” section for a while, but nobody wanted it. Another rust-free pseudo-classic about to get crushed— it happens every day on the West Coast!

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4 of 27 comments
  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Feb 10, 2012

    Looks like someone took a few parts from the engine bay. Stinks to see another Celica go, but a car that "runs and drives" can still have an assortment of fun things to deal with, like bad brakes.

  • Dvdlgh Dvdlgh on Feb 10, 2012

    You sure that's not a Celica Supra?

    • See 1 previous
    • Dvdlgh Dvdlgh on Feb 10, 2012

      @Broo How in hell did I forget about the engine. My neighbor had one. The motor died at about 38k miles. Toyota wouldn't help him out so he had to pay for a new motor. His first and last Toyota.

  • Gemcitytm Why does it seem every EV seems to have ridiculous amounts of power? Yes, I know they're heavier than ICE models but who on earth needs 708 HP? How about a nice, compact EV with, say, 250 HP and 350-400 mile range? Is that impossible with today's tech? (I currently drive a 148 HP Mazda 3 ICE and it has all the get-up-and-go I need.)
  • CEastwood I could have bought one of these if I had the cash in 76 for $1000 white , red interior , 3 speed stick with whitewalls/ wire hubcaps - it was mint and gone a day after I saw it . But the real catch that got away was an all original 69 green Camaro RS convertible 327 4 speed with 46K on the clock for 1800 that I saw a few months earlier . Young and poor was not a fun place to be !
  • KOKing I'm in an emissions check only state, and I'd trade that away for a safety check all day.
  • Bd2 The hybrid powertrain in the Sportage and Tucson are the ones to get.H/K should discontinue the base NA 2.5L powertrain and just build more of the hybrid.In the future, maybe offer a 2nd, more powerful hybrid (the hybrid 2.5) which will first arrive with the next Telluride/Palisade.Kia also needs to redo the front fascia for the Sportage's refresh.
  • The Oracle I say let the clunkers stay on the roads.