By on September 29, 2015

Toyota Celica GTS

For our readers under the age of 25, let me tell you a bedtime story. There once was a time when Toyota sold sports cars.

Seriously. The company now best known for beige once offered a fleet of interesting, sporty, high-performance cars. The Celica, Supra, Celica Supra, rear-drive Corollas, FX16 GTS, and MR2 all came from your friendly Toyota dealer. Nowadays, if you want a little pizazz with your “Famous Toyota Reliabilty,” you must wander to the dank corner of the showroom labeled Scion.

Jack, however, might argue that point.

I wonder if, rather than demoting the impressive-but-slow-selling FR-S to the lifestyle brand, Toyota could have revived a nameplate that had some actual credibility beyond drift fanatics. The Celica sold well for a couple decades and was a rear-drive coupe at the beginning, so the name wouldn’t be completely out of left field.

Today, I look at the final generation of Celica, this of the GTS variety. With around 190 horsepower out of a high-revving, small-displacement four, the GTS is — to me at least — an affordable alternative to the legendary Acura Integra Type-R. It’ll never bring the same kind of money good ‘Tegs do, but there are relatively plenty to go around. This one, for $5,800, looks like an absolute bargain. It’s not perfect, but with a detail it could get close.

I’ve heard about some issues with the 2ZZ-GE engine when used on track, but since the engine been used in Lotuses (Loti?) for fifteen years, I’m sure the aftermarket has picked up the slack. If I had the spare garage space — and spare cash, naturally — I’d seriously consider picking this beauty up.

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70 Comments on “Digestible Collectible: 2000 Toyota Celica GTS...”


  • avatar
    VW16v

    This GTS would definitely be a great collector over a Integra type-r. The type-r was a great car. But, hard to find one that does not have smoke coming out the tail pipe. Another true collector would the 88-90 Celica Alltrac Turbo. That was a fantastic car back in the day and very rare. Only seen one or two in the past couple of years.

    • 0 avatar

      The Alltrac is fantastic and would be a great car to collect.

      • 0 avatar
        alltrac

        I had an ’88 Alltrac about, eh, 12 years ago. Wish I’d held on to it, and I even had a chance to buy it back about 8 years ago, but in both situations I wouldn’t have been able to take care of it as I can now. It’s the car I mentally compare all cars I’ve had since to, despite the fact that my current GTI is faster.

        I agree with some of the others that the ST185 is the prettiest of them all. Only two on autotrader – one is overpriced and modded to within an inch of its life, while the other is high mileage with a barely complete sentence description. :(

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      The All-Track continued until 1993, the ST185 cars. That rounded body style is the bee’s knees in my opinion. Then again, I’m biased. My first car was a 1991 Celica GTS then an ’88 GTS hatch. I loved those cars.

      Once they’re import eligable, the ST205 (1994-1998) AllTracs are going to be my muse.

      • 0 avatar
        epsilonkore

        ST205 AllTrac was the best! I’d take one in Renaissance Red if I could. The 88-90 AllTrac Turbo would be my next choice, those flip up headlights looked great with the grille integration. (not to mention the performance), but the interior to the 94-98 was boarderline Lexus SC and shamed the late 80’s version.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    “There once was a time when Toyota sold sports cars.”

    But they paid attention to US demographics and wisely stopped trying to.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Agreed.

      The Celica GT-S was a fantastic car, but reviewers bitched endlessly about it (no power, except up-top; not very premium, etc, etc) and the buying public either couldn’t afford it (because young people can’t make insurance payments on things like this) or ignored it (because rich old people don’t buy cars like this).

      I loved it.* The GTS a better ITR than the ITR: similar power, lighter, better chassis, fantastic cockpit. It lacked a little refinement versus the RSX, but do you care? Even the base GT was a nice drive.

      But it didn’t sell, and it got replaced by the FJ Cruiser.

      It’s the same disease that killed the Integra/RSX and RX-8, and will probably do in the FR-S, Z and Genesis Coupe: no one buys non-retro, non-premium sporty cars in quantity any more. Insurance rates and the death of stable employment for the young has pretty much nixed this market.

      The only salvation is sports compacts built on commodity platforms (WRX, FoST, GTI/GLI) but even those are probably not long for this world.

      * The only better Toyota was the original Altezza/Lexus IS. What a nice car that was. It also didn’t suffered for reviewer snobbery

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Yep, young males with decent disposable income are as done here as unfiltered cigarettes. But I wonder if China offers a similar buyer.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I dunno, within my small sample size of engineer friends, a whole bunch of them insisted on scooping up WRXes, Focus STs, GTIs right out of college. A friend of a friend went as far as a used Audi S5 several years out of school now. And many more I’m sure are more in my boat of holding off on the new car in favor of a very nice house.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            You know how select a group you guys are relative to all Americans males your age, most of whom won’t have a peak earning year that matches your starting salaries.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Well I will direct you to the parking lot on any military base in the US, plenty of new Mustangs, Camaros, WRXs, etc there as well. Or look out West to the oil fields. My buddy got a gig as a line rig driver making six figures right off the bat, bought himself a brand new 5.0L F150 stat. Not a sports car but a ‘fun’ vehicle in its own right.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            You’re again cherry picking the few remaining employers of young males that are forced to pay anything above UPS driver money.

            I’ve seen numerous young military bucks go through the depressingly familiar cycle of cash-flush for a few years only to be financially downsized by military contraction and serial child-support entanglements. Theirs is a very temporary boom that they later pay very heavily for in many unpleasant ways.

            But I have no desire to argue this because Toyota is infinitely more knowledgeable that I and they’ve given up sports cars as bad business. I’d say that’s pretty conclusive.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Toyota is infinitely more knowledgeable that I and they’ve given up sports cars as bad business.”

            Well, they still offer sporty cars, just not with Toyota badges.

            The tC, FR-S, and RC350/F are fairly analogous to the Celica, MR2, and Supra of yore. Not to mention just about every current Lexus offers an F-sport package and they are about to about to introduce an all-new V8(!) sports sedan.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Akio. Damn owners’ kids are a universal affliction.

            At least they seem to keep him pretty well sandboxed, stiffer Camry suspensions excepted.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I suppose you’re right, but did more young men have a lot of money to spend in the late 80s-early 90s when Toyota was last making lots of sports cars? That was post-Golden Age of easy to get factory jobs mind you.

            I think Toyota is too smart and profit driven these days to bring over all of the funky and fun Japanese domestic market stuff they used to. They have a captive market more or less with their reputation as a ‘go to’ for many people (including myself). As long as they don’t screw up on build quality or reliability, they will keep doing well. To be honest, they do still have some niche vehicles that are successful and that they keep selling: Prius hybrids, Tacoma pickup trucks, 4Runners, and AWD Sienna minivans.

  • avatar
    jrmason

    87 Supra Turbo 5 speed w/ TEMS.
    One of the funnest cars I ever owned.

  • avatar

    Agree 100% – the Scion FR-S should have been a Toyota Celica. Too bad Toyota abandoned the sporty car/GT market in favor of selling high volume Camrys, Corollas, and Highlanders, but when a company is gunning for profits and market share, a low-volume sports car makes little sense.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    Let’s not forget they gave us this engine in the Matrix XRS and short-lived Corolla XRS. Vibe GT got it through Nummi as well (I think)

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Funny, my sister-in-law just bought a 2000 Celica and showed it to us over the week-end. It had quite a unique side skirt setup. It looked like a flared aftermarket skirt but it was actually blended into the bodywork with no panel seam. If you hit the quarter panel you’d hear a metal clunk, if you hit the skirt you’d hear a plastic thump. Is it common to blend panels seamlessly on aftermarket body parts? I thought it was weird.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      It might have been part of the OE “Action package” body kit, I think it was a TRD piece. It was fairly aggressive looking but had very good fit&finish.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        I still remember those commercials. Little old lady yelling at the Celica to slow down… while parked. The catch line “It looks fast.” IIRC, I didn’t think you could get this kit on the GT-S. I’ve only ever seen it on GT’s. Might be wrong though.

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          A kid at my high school (when these were new) had a GT-S with the body kit, so I’m fairly sure it’s an option. I think it comes down to the fact that the GT came in automatic, and people would rather just look fast than have to shift their own gears.

          • 0 avatar
            amarks

            The GT-S did come in automatic, but was actually slower than the GT owing to less low-end torque…I think the reason you see more Action Package GTs boils down to transaction price…an Action Package GT-S cost about $24k in 2001 (with no other options), translating to $32,300 in current dollars. That’s…hideously expensive.

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            @amarks

            My bad. I assumed it was like all the high performance Hondas and came in manual only

        • 0 avatar
          RandomGhost

          Haha, yes, as well as the dog chasing the parked Celica and slamming into the back of it.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    There’s a whole generation of Toyotas made around Y2K and have completely disappeared from our roads.
    I swear, these and Rav4s and Camrys used to be ubiquitous, but you hardly ever see them anymore. Ironically, mid-90s Camrys are still common. Not sure what happened, but that’s around the time Toyota had sludge issues, and cut-back on their previous near-Lexus materials quality.

    Just did a used car search, and there are almost as many 2000 Celicas available as 2000 Camrys, and way more 2000 Jettas, Civics and Accords than either.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Rav4 and Camry of that generation with the 2.4L had issues with head bolts. Hard to believe but all of these cars Y2K era cars are now 15 years old and dying from simple attrition and neglect as they work their way through fourth and 5th owners down the socio-economic scale. You’re right, the sludge-prone camries of the 97-01 years might not live as long in the ghetto with neglected oil changes as a 3800 OHV GM powerplant.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And they rust. Which is what kills them off here in the Northeast. The only 15yo+ anythings you see in Maine are European cars and the various American cockroach mobiles. And most of the latter only survived because old people bought them and didn’t drive them. The only cars with huge mileages still on the road from that era are Swedish and German with very few exceptions.

        But of course, to the B&B Toyota can do no wrong and nobody can afford an old German car.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          “to the B&B Toyota can do no wrong”

          So a TTAC search of “beige”, “vanilla” or “boring” wouldn’t turn up any comments about Toyotas?

          Of course, given WordPress’ search engine, maybe not.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Rav4 and Camrys rust no worse than any mainstream contemporary domestic that I can think of. In fact I’d argue that many times they are better. W-body based cars of that generation no longer have their rocker panels around here, except for the Impalas which smartly used black plastic to cover the entire thing. Tauri drive around with sagging butts from rusted in half rear springs and have serious corrosion issues in the rear dog legs/quarter panels. An 02-05 Camry still looks pretty good, except for a few that I’ve seen with some staining near the trunk-lid trim.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I don’t know what part of Maine you’re in, but I went to Bar Harbor the last couple times I visited. Thanks to google street view, I can unequivocally say you just make stuff up. Almost all the cars are Japanese or Korean, and the oldest cars I found were both Hondas.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    When the “Celica” was RWD, wasn’t it actually called a “Celica Supra,” and then they separated the models after that? That was always my assumption.

    I lost all feels for the Celica after they got rid of the cool looking one with pop-up headlamps. The early 2000’s one was too trendy and of the moment. The prior model is a looker, and has aged better as well.

    Here we are, the 93 All-Trac. Best of type! http://vpstestbringatrailercom.c.presscdn.com/wp-content/uploads/plugin/1993_Toyota_Celica_All-Trac_Coupe_For_Sale_Front.jpeg

    The 94-99ish one had the quad headlamps, and got a bit too much in the way of Paseo treatment. Looks a bit girly.
    http://www.holyrollerz.org/carpics/celica.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Kind of the other way around, the Celica was always just the Celica. It was the first-gen Supra that was the “Celica Supra.” It, and the 2nd gen (which was just Supra) were stretched-wheelbase Celicas (to accommodate the straight-six).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Ah ha, thanks.

        Love me some 90’s Supra too. The styling and that basket handle spoiler shouts RACECAR wherever you go.

        • 0 avatar
          jrmason

          1st through 3rd gen Celicas were rear wheel drive. Starting with the 4th gen in 85-86 they went front wheel drive.

          What a shame too, I also had an 83 Celica GT RWD 5 speed. It was a fun little car even with the 2.4L. Front wheel drive killed them IMO.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Speaking of coupes, and since TTAC hasn’t reported it yet – someone saw the Fiat 124 without any costuming on it. It’s… not great. Much awkward. Wow. Such front klips.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/enthusiasts/2017-fiat-124-spider-caught-undisguised/ar-AAeSzhL?li=AA8mH2

  • avatar
    duffman13

    I liked these back in the day and lusted after it in high school. When I was buying my own car after college though, I got an RSX-S instead.

    The big reason was the powertrain – the Toyota was just geared wrong for the engine and how VVTL-i worked. If you took it to redline and shifted, you would drop in RPM below where the big cam lobe engaged. In the Honda i-VTEC motor, you stayed on the big cam the whole time. For fun driving, and in overall drivability, the RSX was just better.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      You could stay in the power band, but it was very, very tricky to do: you had to shift at just shy of 8000 (!!) rpm.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That would be so_loud. Bleh.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I’ve been in VTEC Hondas for a decade, never had a problem staying on the big cam. I’m an expert at shifting right at fuel cutoff when ragging on the car, most of them require it. 8000RPM is small potatoes as far as revs go to me.

        In the Celica I felt like I always ended up 2-300 RPM too low to stay on the big cam, which kind of sucked the fun out of driving it hard. I only drove one twice though, maybe I would have figured out something had I actually owned one.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          “I only drove one twice though, maybe I would have figured out something had I actually owned one.”

          No, you are right about the gearing being too tall for the car’s powerband. It is possible, and it’s fun, but it isn’t easy like it would be in the RSX, and it does end up being slower as a result.

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      I would have taken the RSX also (or Prelude). If I was just renting one for the weekend, I would take the Celica. The Celica GT-S is amazing to drive, but it’s also very cheap feeling, the shifter is extremely stiff, and the one I drove (might have had an aftermarket wheel/tire package) was too harsh as a daily driver.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Toyota ALL SHOW-NO GO.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    I drove my buddy’s sister’s GT-S a couple times back in the early 00’s and it was a hoot! I’d driven a couple Civic Si’s with the B16 and the VTEC was noticable for sure, but that Celica (different competition, I know) had a much different feel to it when the VVT system went HAM. The Celica had a definitive 2-stage surge. IIRC stomping the throttle in second gear there was nothing, nothing, nothing until ~6000rpm when the first surge came about, then right at about 7000rpm the second surge was felt. She also had a TRD intake and exhaust on hers so it might have made this feeling more pronounced.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    Interesting hyperbole in WV.
    At 131,000 miles, “This car has been stored and cared for.”
    For what, two weeks? It averaged almost 9k miles/year…
    “The clutch was replaced at 95k, so it shifts better than any other Celica out there.”
    The clutch now has 36k; what was it made of to keep it the bestest of the best?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Right look, wrong engine, not rwd. Shame. They could’ve at least but a Camry V6 in it. With the automatic, it had to be a complete turd package.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      You would think so, but no. The last-gen Celica was a very light car* and what it lacked in power it made up for with (lack of) mass and a fantastic driving position. The 3.3L from the Camry, or even the 2.2L, would have been like a boat-anchor on the nose.

      But yeah, with the the Corolla’s four-speed it was kind of meh.

      * 2600lbs, less than the RSX

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Best Celica GT-S was the 84-85 RWD convertible. Very rare and unique. I had the ’84 GT-S coupe. Loved it…until I totalled it on icey roads in Ohio. So sad!

  • avatar
    EAF

    I believe the 2ZZGE engine is a Yamaha design, or at least Yamaha was involved in its development to some capacity. The failure prone point were oil pumps that disintegrated at 9000+ RPM.

    I’m a huge fan of the ITR but the name is synonymous with theft. Just last year my neighbor went for a bite to eat only to have his PRISTINE Championship White ITR stolen from the parking lot. =(

  • avatar
    3CatGo

    I bought a 2000 GT-S new in June 2000 a week after starting my first job after college. 15 years later, I still have both the job and the car. While I’ve worked probably 35,000 hours at my job (Engineer), the car is currently sporting 327,000 miles, and runs, and looks, nearly new. I have cared for it very well. It’s on its third windshield, second water pump, second clutch, and second front struts, but is otherwise 100% original.

    This car is amazing. It gets 30 to 34 MPG no matter how I drive it, and I see the glorious 7800 RPM redline (and a sometimes few hundred RPM beyond) in 1st and 2nd frequently, as redline in 2nd gets you just about to 60 mph, but the fuel cutoff at 8200 will get you about 62 mph. Sure, torque is not its strong suit, but it just encourages you to hang in lower gears a bit more. I did have the VVTi lift bolt failure at 99,000 miles, just shy of my 100,000 mile extended warranty(!), and the car ate pulley tensioners (at least 10 replacements, I lost count) for the first 150,000 miles, but they were all warranty repairs as they never lasted more than 12 months. But Toyota finally seems to have cured that issue, and the VVTi has been bulletproof ever since.

    In 2001 I bought free oil changes for life from the local Midas for $150 and have changed the oil every 3,000 miles. I’m killing those guys! Maybe 3,000 is a bit conservative but I kind of feel like it is a key to my car’s longevity, so I keep it up.

    The car rides wonderfully as well. It is firm, yet handles bumps with an amazing suppleness, something that newer cars with their giant wheels and low profile tires just can’t do, and much softer than our VW Sportwagen, yet is much sharper in corners. Sure, the sound insulation has faded over the years, but the radio is plenty loud to overcome any noise; the cabin noise also means I don’t talk on the phone much while driving, a built-in safety feature! The interior has ZERO rattles, I kid you not. The leather seats are perfect for my 5’8” 140 lb frame. The ergonomics are Toyota-perfect, the interior is not gimmicky and does not look dated. The steering is mechanical-rack perfect, no phony electronics. No traction control, no stability control, and performance limits that are very fun but won’t get you killed. And NO INFOTAINMENT SCREENS! Man how I would love a car today with no distracting screens.

    I test drove an Integra GSR when I bought this and the Celica, as a new model was light years ahead. The RSX and the WRX were still 2 years away in the year 2000 or I would have tried them. The Eclipse was a pig; do you realize the GT-S weighs only 2500 pounds? And would any of those other cars still be running today given the abuse I subject my Celica too? Doubtful. When this car came out, I think it was the only N/A car not named Ferrari to make 100hp/liter, and one of very few cars with a 6 speed. It was pretty cutting edge. And I barely see any other GT-S models on the road today, so mine feels very unique.

    The car is beginning to show its age. The shifting is a bit notchy, and the exhaust has started puttering like I have a dropped cylinder for the past year (but I don’t…). The cat is likely totally stopped up, the check engine light has been on for an environmental code for, no joke, 8 years. But it runs fine, and I keep expecting it to die so I’m not spending the money to replace a sensor or fix emissions (our VW is a TDI so I guess we are eco-terrorists!). The hood is full of paint chips but the rest of the paint is near flawless due to lots of TLC. With every new set of tires, I always think they will be my last, but I have felt that way for 5 years now, but the car keeps going. I baby the car for the most part (easy with the cold starts, no hot shutdowns, etc), but when I drive it hard, I drive it very, very hard, including autocross. At this point I am just daring it to break so I can justify a new GTI, but it keeps answering every challenge. The day I do have to get rid of it will be very sad indeed. I still think this car was totally underrated, mostly due to its peaky engine and the fact that its market disappeared from beneath it. But this is a wonderful car in so many respects, I am lucky to have chosen mine so many years ago.

  • avatar
    Featherston

    Anybody else love the front bucket seats in the A60 Supra as much as I did?

  • avatar
    plateofshrimp

    I seem to remember kids being stoked to be in the 16’s at the drag strip with these.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It is amazing that I almost never see these on the road anymore. It seemed like they used to be everywhere when they came out. And it’s not that old of a model.

    I’m a fan of Toyota, but I thought these things just seemed really chintzy. I remember a friend got a brand new one right when it came out, it just felt like it had an interior from a car priced more like a Dodge Neon.

    I liked the previous generations of Celicas, but something about these just always seemed off.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Didn’t pull up the inflation adjuster, but for what a supra turbo cost I’m certain you can find a very sporty Toyota with the big L on it across town. Just a guess, but based on memory and a thumb rule the turbo awd monster should land between the IS F sport and a brutish RC.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    SCION TC stands for Scion Toyota Celica!
    Just like Acura RL means “Replace Legend”.

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    I have the identical car. Rarely ever drive it but the sound it makes at higher revs is like a banshee shriek. Very cool


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