Junkyard Find: 1986 Toyota Celica GT Coupe

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
After producing rear-wheel-drive Celicas for 15 years, Toyota went to a front-wheel-drive Celica platform for the 1986 model year, while the rear-wheel-drive Supra got bigger, more powerful, and more Camaro-like. These Celicas were quick enough to be fun and made long commutes affordable, but they never attracted much of a devoted following. This means that when one wears out, chances are that it ends up getting scrapped.Here’s a first-year fourth-generation Celica that I spotted in a Denver-area self-service yard last month.
This Celica a very straight body and not much rust. The interior is faded and missing some parts, but looks to have been nice enough on the day it entered this junkyard. With only 110,939 miles on the clock, this car has fewer miles than a lot of the eight-year-old Kias around it in the IMPORTS section.
While I have photographed many earlier junkyard Celicas (including this ’76, this ’78, this ’80, this ’81, and this ’83), today’s ’86 is the first front-wheel-drive Celica in the Junkyard Finds series.
For 1986, the Celica GT got the SOHC 2.0-liter 2S-E four-cylinder engine, rated at 97 horsepower. The GT-S version had a DOHC 3S engine making 135 horses.
This one has air conditioning and a climate-control panel that’s more 1980s than A-Ha.
The liftback version was more popular than the coupe; the convertible was available starting in the 1987 model year, but not many were sold.
“At night, boy do I look good!”
The GT-Four version, which had all-wheel-drive and 190 horsepower, could be purchased only in Japan.
Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Spinnetti Spinnetti on Feb 11, 2018

    Interesting factoid IIRC... This 2S-FE is another fork truck motor like the original Celica had. I had the great misfortune of having one of these cars. As a die-hard Toyota guy, I've had a ton of them.. well, technically many tons of them and this was the worst one of them all. Horrible engine, not enough wheel travel, poor handling. Ick. If it had the 3S-GE it would be forgiven, but not with this motor! PS, Hi Phil! Hope to have the LS back in Lemons this year....

  • Bostonjoe Bostonjoe on Mar 13, 2018

    No love here for the 4th Gen Celica? I've owned a 1989 GT convertible for the last 15 years that has been fun to drive. It's better than this 1986 (has 140 HP), and the convertible lines are still pretty '80s sleek. Absolutely love the car.

  • Doc423 Said some automakers were slow to adopt the technology of Smartphone Mirroring, too bad they aren't slower adopting the EV technology, rather than cramming it down our throats.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys i was only here for torchinsky
  • Tane94 Workhorse probably will be added to the heap of failed EV companies.
  • Freddie Instead of taking the day off, how about an article on the connection between Black Americans and the auto industry and car culture? Having done zero research, two topics pop into my head: Chrysler designer/executive Ralph Gilles, and the famous (infamous?) "Green Book".
  • Tane94 Either Elio Motors or Aptera Motors.