By on April 23, 2021

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]

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21 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1983 Toyota Celica, a Sporting Cabriolet...”

  • avatar

    The Supra based on this Celica (usually equipped with the same wheels shown on the notchback Celica in your pictures) was one of the highlights of the late malaise era. The Celica’s truck engine couldn’t back up the looks, though.

    • 0 avatar

      I recall the branding on these as Toyota Celica Supra…..they only dropped Celica later.

      I too miss interesting Toyotas…now it’s all part of the grey boxes blocking my highway group of cars…

  • avatar

    That was back when Toyota meant something to the automotive enthusiast world.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Sweet little car

  • avatar

    My father bought one of these, silver with a 5-speed, the only manual transmission car he ever bought in my life. I loved that thing and took excellent care of it. Changed the oil, waxed it, detailed it – it was going to be my first car. My mother was driving it and was broadsided by Mustang full of teenagers going way too fast. My mother was okay but the car was utterly demolished, even a wheel was torn off, it didn’t even look much like a car after the accident. I wound up with a 4-door Honda Accord DX, great car but not nearly as cool.

  • avatar

    This looks very different from the ASC Convertibles. No back windows. Obviously needed to change the seats to accommodate the new top. IIRC, Toyota and ASC produced just a couple hundred 84s with the Mid Cycle Refresh update and many more in 85. Did the factory authorize any 83s? Or did some dealer or someone else make some?

    I’ve almost pulled the trigger twice on a couple 85s I’ve come across. I still might someday.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Bill from Curious Cars reviewed a red Celica convertible similar to the one in the first picture.

  • avatar

    “The seller assures the value on these is skyrocketing”

    I’m sure the seller thinks lots of things which may or may not be true. This is too niche for me to judge but if its really a collectible priced right it should not last very long.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Corey–Bill has some great reviews of American cars from the 60s thru the 80s, Lexus, Toyotas, Hondas, and German vehicles. It is amazing how Bill can find these one owner low mileage cars mostly unrestored in pristine condition. Once you get past Bill’s weather rants about heat and humidity and rants about birds, cats, and goats stalking him he will give you a detailed history of the brand, vehicle, the designers, and etc. Bill is literally a walking and talking encyclopedia about cars. It is amazing how much he knows.

    • 0 avatar

      Why? Rants about birds, goats and cats is my favorite part of the show. They are out of control (goats birds and cats), we have to do something about it or they will take over.

    • 0 avatar

      I will have to give him a watch, and skip through the rants. I don’t have a ton of patience for people who go off topic on car stuff.

    • 0 avatar

      God’s Waiting Room, FL is FULL of one-owner, low mileage, mint condition cars from the exotic to the super ordinary. I bought my Mom a one-owner, mint condition ’01 Camry LE V6 last year with 49K on it. American granny-barges are a dime-a-dozen down here. There was even a 15K mile mint condition ’89 Escort Pony for sale recently.

      And I agree, that guy is amazing! I learn something every time I listen to one of his videos.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I enjoy the rants as well but just wanted to give Corey a heads up in case he just wanted to fast forward to the review which is where Bill excels. Bill is a real car nerd.

  • avatar

    Lights go up. Lights go down.
    Lights go up. Lights go down.
    Lights go up. Lights go down.
    Lights go up. Lights go down.
    Lights go up. Lights go down.
    (sorry…can’t resist)
    As I recall, because an old friend of mine had a very used Celica Supra for a first car, this car was tied with the Nissan Pulsar and the Geo Storm/Isuzu Impulse for first place in the category of: Japanese car that they really put a back seat in that thing???
    I think a large pizza wouldn’t fit back there unless it was at a cheese-wrecking angle.

  • avatar

    Look at all that wonderful pothole absorbing sidewall! Offroad trucks come with lower profile tires today.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

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