Junkyard Find: 1978 Toyota Celica GT
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.
The very sturdy 2.2-liter 20R engine made good torque, as befitted an engine well-suited for hauling Hilux-driving, Soviet-fighting mujahideen over mountain passes. You couldn’t spin the R much, as many LeMons racers have discovered, but it would outlast the rest of a Celica.
When did the 5-speed become commonplace enough that it wasn’t worth bragging about via badging?
Speaking of badging, can someone explain what these “CARPET” decals on the rear quarter windows mean?
The interior is pretty beat, but you can still make out the nothing-like-a-Corolla sportiness here.
Guys with huge Malaise mustaches and earthtone suits knew: ditch the Volaré, get a Celica!
A car that gives you your money’s worth.
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