Rare Rides: The 1983 Toyota Celica, a Sporting Cabriolet

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Today we feature the first Toyota Celica presented in the Rare Rides series. It’s beige, very Eighties, and was converted to a convertible after it arrived in the United States. And the lights flip up!

Toyota’s Celica was born late in 1970, as a pony-car competitor to the successful Ford Mustang. As the first-gen model gave way to a second for the 1978 model year, Celica grew in all dimensions. The same occurred again for its third A60 generation, which entered production in summer 1981 for the ’82 model year.

The formula for the new Celica was much the same as before: Engine at the front, driven wheels at the rear, and a stylish body in the middle. While the original Celica was a bit curvaceous, the model’s second and third albums upped the square factor considerably. It’d be fair to award the A60 Celica with the Most Square Celica Ever title. Underneath the new body was a variety of engines depending on trim and market. The smallest power on offer came from a 1.6-liter inline-four (the 2T-B), while the largest engine available was the 2.4-liter 22R shared with the Toyota Pickup. All engines were inline-four in arrangement and paired to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual. Three different versions of the five-speed were offered during the A60’s life.

The Celica received a few updates in North America, notably fuel injection in cars built after August 1982, where the 22R became 22R-E. To utilize the revamped 22R-E, Toyota introduced the GT-S model in North America. This more powerful version was meant to help claw back some of the sports-car appeal the Celica lost as it got bigger and gained weight over the years. There was a global facelift for the 1984 model year, where concealed pop-up headlamps replaced the flip-up ones, along with a more modern grille treatment featuring a flush section, a new lower front spoiler, and different tail lamps at the rear.

The third generation continued the more formal notchback coupe and faster-looking liftback body styles, but in 1983 added a third option: A cabriolet. Built only for the American market, Toyota contracted with ASC to chop the top off 200 Celicas in 1983. Sales were hot enough for Toyota to order more and continued to build facelifted convertibles in 1984 and 1985 (facelifted version shown above). All 1983 convertibles were ST trim, while ’84-’85 convertibles were the new and spicy GT-S.

Celica’s A60 generation remained in production through 1985 and was replaced with the more modern (and front-drive) T160 for the 1986 model year. Toyota softened the sharp edges and modernized the affordable sports car’s powertrain. But they kept the pop-up lamps. ASC kept on converting Celicas into convertibles during the T160 generation, with the added ask of modification of right-hand-drive examples for the Japanese market.

Today’s Rare Ride is one of 200 initial year, pre-facelift carbureted Celica convertibles. With 117,000 miles, it’s in excellent condition. The seller assures the value on these is skyrocketing, so strike while the iron’s hot. Would make a great car for driving, or for sitting in while not driving. Yours for $8,900.

[Images: Toyota]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 21 comments
  • Orange260z Orange260z on Apr 26, 2021

    I had a ~1984 Celica with the 22R-E engine around 1998. I bought the car for $100; stripped out the interior, glass, and even some of the body; installed a roll bar and some winter tires and some buddies and I drove it as a shared ice racer for several years. At one point the car sat uncovered in a farmer's field for 2 years - we showed up with a fresh battery and gas, and it fired on the second crank. The brakes unseized after we dragged the car behind a truck for a few minutes; we used the car for another season. The car had been nicknamed "Slowleaka" because it was slow, and it leaked every fluid. I never replaced any fluid, only kept topping up. At the end the car was sold for $150 after 4 or 5 years of abuse. Toughest car I ever owned.


    Curious Cars has both versions of goats, birds and cats: GTO, Thunderbird and Cougar! Always a great show and so many of his cars were like the ones I sold in the late 1970s. The best example I have here at the high desert ranch is my 1984 Buick Le Sabre Limited coupe with 64,212 miles in mint condition.

  • Theflyersfan Well, if you're on a Samsung phone, (noticing all of the shipping boxes are half Vietnamese), you're using a Vietnam-built phone. Apple? Most of ours in the warehouse say China, but they are trying to spread out to other countries because putting all eggs in the Chinese basket right now is not wise. I'm asking Apple users here (the point of above) - if you're OK using an expensive iPhone, where is your Made in China line in the sand? Can't stress this enough - not being confrontational. I am curious, that's all. Is it because Apple is California-based that manufacturing location doesn't matter, vs a company in a Beijing skyscraper? We have all weekend to hopefully have a civil discussion about how much is too much when it comes to supporting companies being HQ-ed in adversarial countries. I, for one, can't pull the trigger on a Chinese car. All kinds of reasons - political, human rights, war mongering and land grabbing - my morality is ruling my decisions with them.
  • Jbltg Ford AND VAG. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Leonard Ostrander We own a 2017 Buick Envision built in China. It has been very reliable and meets our needs perfectly. Of course Henry Ford was a fervent anti-semite and staunch nazi sympathizer so that rules out Ford products.
  • Ravenuer I would not.
  • V8fairy Absolutely no, for the same reasons I would not have bought a German car in the late 1930's, and I am glad to see a number of other posters here share my moral scruples. Like EBFlex I try to avoid Chinese made goods as much as possible. The quality may also be iffy, but that is not my primary concern