Junkyard Find: 1983 Toyota Celica GT

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1983 toyota celica gt

During my last trip to California, I found this ’80 Celica coupe and this ’81 Celica liftback side-by-side at an Oakland self-service yard. A few rows away was another Celica. Apparently the old 22R-powered Celicas aren’t worth enough to keep on the street.

I’ve always thought the R engine was way too truck-ish for a sporty car like the Celica; all low-end torque and industrial clattering noises. You can’t argue with its reliability, though.

Toyota couldn’t match Mitsubishi for spaceship-style interiors, but this setup looked pretty futuristic.

Every time I see one of these things, I am reminded of this shot from my (1984) high school yearbook. Since most of my classmates drove beater Colts and Pintos— if they drove at all— the kid with the new Celica was feeling pretty sharp.

Join the conversation
2 of 40 comments
  • TL TL on Mar 26, 2012

    Loved the styling on these and dreamed of having such a "cool car" in high school. In college I got my wish. Had an '83 ST coupe (ST had the 96 hp carbed 22R) and a loaded '85 GT-S Convertible (124 hp in '85). The '82-'84 models were pretty low on power (22R-E had a different head after '84), but the ST models only weighed about what a 2nd generation Miata did. My convertible was purchased to replace the '83 after it was stolen (~1996). After the '83 was recovered I sold it to a brother who finally blew a head gasket at 230K. Traded in the convertible at ~200k after it developed a habbit of eating EFI computers. Still miss the GT-S seats.

  • Jpitchford Jpitchford on Sep 04, 2012

    I've had a few of these over the years. The last one was a bit of a "Hot rod" during a headgasket change i decided that if i could get the compression up a little it might be more fun. After talking with a local guy who raced 22re's I found that if you cut .030 off the head it'll bump the CP up to around 10-1. Talk about a screamer. Couple that with a lightened flywheel and stage 3 race clutch kit. Really woke the old thing up.

  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.https://www.lhd.com.au/lhd-insights/australian-road-death-statistics/
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.
  • Lorenzo The other automakers are putting silly horsepower into the few RWD vehicles they have, just as Stellantis is about to kill off the most appropriate vehicles for that much horsepower. Somehow, I get the impression the OTHER Carlos, Tavares, not Ghosn, doesn't have a firm grasp of the American market.