The Celica was originally designed for motorists who were young at heart and wanted more than simple transportation. Planning for the Celica was begun in 1967, styling was quite revolutionary for the day and it was influential in the establishment of the sporty subcompact market segment.
The original Celica was equipped with a carbureted four-cylinder engine displacing 1.6 liters. It was available only in ST form and as a two-door sport-coupe, an image car rather than a high-volume car. The Celica sold well from the outset, its first major change or addition, taking place in 1974 with the addition of the GT model. Introduction of the GT brought with it a two-liter engine that would, in various versions, power Celicas for the next 11 years.
In 1976, the Celica line was enlarged with the addition of the liftback model, available only in GT trim. The GT package included the larger engine, offered sportier handling, higher-grade trim, etc. The liftback model was marketed as a sport-touring type vehicle, offering greater comfort and luggage capacity than the notch-back models.
The second generation Celica was released in 1978, and was again available in both ST and GT trim levels. 2.2-liter engines for both models provided power. This new generation offered more safety, power and economy than previous models.
1982 saw the introduction of the third generation Celica. Styling was changed considerably from previous models and power was now provided by 2.4-liter engines. In 1983, Toyota added the GT-S model to the Celica line to re-inject the sports image that Celica had lost, as it grew larger and heavier with each subsequent model. The GT-S included larger wheels and tires, fender flares, sports suspension, and a sports interior including special seats and a leather-wrapped steering-wheel and gearshift knob.
For 1986, Celica changed completely. It was an all-new vehicle with front-wheel-drive, a rounded, flowing-body and new 2.0-liter four-cylinder twin-cam engines. Celica was now available in ST, GT and GT-S trim, all available as either coupe or liftback models. ST-S and GT-S came with a 116-horsepower engine, while the GT-S was given a 135-horsepower version of the same 2.0-liter engine. Front-wheel-drive and four-wheel independent suspension made the Celica the perfect all-around sports car.
In 1988, Toyota introduced the "ultimate Celica", the All-Trac Turbo. With full-time all-wheel-drive and a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, it immediately took its place as the flagship of the Celica range.
The next generation Celicas, the fifth, were introduced in 1990. They received revised styling, upgraded wheels and tires, and more power. The GT and GT-S engines grew to 2.2-liters, while the ST sported a 1.6-liter -- all were DOHC 16-valve. Anti-lock brakes were available on all models, as were numerous luxury items -- all were standard on the All-Trac model though. With its leather interior, ten-speaker sound system and power-operated driver's seat and sunroof included as standard equipment, the All-Trac was the most expensive Celica yet. With its 200-horsepower turbocharged engine, it was also the most powerful Celica yet.
For 1994, Toyota pulled out all the stops. The sixth-generation Celicas bore very little resemblance to their previous brethren. Celica was only available in ST and GT configuration for the 1994 model year, but the addition of the optional "sports package" to the GT produced GT-S-like handling. The All-Trac model was dropped, and for 1994 there was no convertible. Styling of the new Celicas was acclaimed by most publications as "Supra-esque" with four exposed headlights. Celicas were available in either coupe or liftback form, with the GT sports package available only on the liftback.
New safety equipment in the form of driver- and passenger-side airbags was standard, and anti-lock brakes were available on all models. Celicas also sported CFC-free air-conditioning.
1995 saw the introduction of the third generation convertible. Built off of the GT Coupe model.
The 1996 Celica received optional side skirts to improve its aerodynamic efficiency, as well as a redesigned rear spoiler. Also available were optional driving lights in the redesigned grille area (standard on GT models).
For 1997, the only change in the Celica was the discontinuation of the GT Coupe model.
In 1998, the ST model was discontinued to simplify the Celica ordering process. All Celicas (Coupe, Liftback and Convertible) are now GT models. All â€˜98 Celicas include additional standard equipment, making Celica a better value.
In 1999, the Celica ordering process was simplified even further with the elimination of the Coupe grade. Celica was now available in GT Liftback and GT Convertible.
For 2000, Celica went back to its performance car roots by entering its seventh generation with all-new cutting edge styling, powerful performance and an aggressive attitude.
The new Celica's cab-forward design features a high-fashion look with Indy-car design elements. Sharp-edged panels, dramatic plunging curves, a tall tail and a radically lowered front fascia were stark contrasts compared to past models. The new Celica was shorter in length, but longer in wheelbase with greatly reduced front- and rear-overhangs.
The Celica GT-S grade is powered by an all-new 1.8 liter, four-cylinder DOHC all-aluminum engine that generates 180 horsepower at 7,600 rpm and 133 lbs./ft. of torque at 6,800 rpm. The GT-S powerplant utilizes variable valve timing and lift, with intelligence control (VVTL-i) that increases the intake/exhaust lift when the engine speed is high to improve output and fuel efficiency.
The GT model's 1.8-liter, four cylinder comes equipped with VVT-i and produces 140 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 125 lbs./ft. of torque at 4,200 rpm.
The GT-S model comes with either a six-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic with sport-shift. The GT version is available in five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions.
Celica: The name is derived from the Spanish word for "heavenly" or "celestial".
Celicas are built at the Tahara Plant in Tahara, Japan. Convertibles receive final assembly in conversion in California.
1970 - Celica LT, ST, GT introduced
1972 - Celica GTV introduced, first World Rally Championship (WRC) in RAC Rally
1976 - Celica wins Motor Trend Import Car of the Year
1976 - Celica introduced in liftback form; 1-millionth Celica produced in June 1977
1978 - Second generation Celica introduced; wins Motor Trend Import Car of the Year
1979 - Sunchaser semi-convertible introduced.
1981 - Sunchaser production ended.
1982 - Third generation introduced.
1984 - Celica GT-S among Consumer's Digest "Best Buys" and Car and Driver Ten Best Cars1st year for the convertible from ASC 250 made
1985 - 4,248 convertibles produced this year
1986 - Fourth generation; front wheel drive introduced in late 1985, followed by GT-Four in October 1986
1987 - New-generation convertible introduced
1988 - All-Trac/GT-Four model for export
1990 - Fifth generation introduced. Spaniard Carlos Sainz driving ST165 GT-Four became World Rally Champion (WRC).
1992 - Carlos Sainz won his second WRC title with ST185 GT-Four
1993 - Last year of the GT-S, All-trac Turbo. Juha Kankkunen won his 4th WRC title, driving ST185 GT-Four.
1994 - Sixth generation introduced. Didier Auriol won WRC title with ST185 GT-Four.
1995 - New generation convertible produced.
1997 - "Most Reliable Used Vehicles, MYs '89-'95" J.D. Power & Associates
1999 - Coupe discontinued
2000 - Seventh generation Celica is introduced.
2001 - US Consumer Reports rates Celica GT-S "Best Sports Coupe" "Most Wanted Sport Coupe Under $30,000" Edmunds.com
2002 - US Consumer Reports "Most Reliable Sporty Car"; Edmunds.com "Most Wanted Sport Coupe - - Under $30,000"
2005 - Celica discontinued in North America and Australia. Still in production in Japan.
2006 - Toyota ended the production of the 7th generation Celica in Japan.