If you've been paying attention for the past year or so, you know that Japanese cars are finding new homes with collectors. Early Z-cars, the Toyota 2000GT, and the Honda S600 are all seeing a resurgence in interest as the guys who enjoyed them as kids now have a chance to buy back their childhood. And this 1978 Toyota Celica is no exception, a spectacular 17,704 original mile car that offers wonderful driving dynamics and a handsome look that will bring back memories.
And that's really what this hobby is all about: memories. Many of you probably remember cars like this being ubiquitous on US roads, but when was the last time you saw one? Wait, scratch that. When was the last time you saw one that wasn't rusted to oblivion? This one has been recently repainted, since the original '70s gold paint color wasn't exactly setting the world on fire, and we have to agree that the bright yellow finish suits the sporty Celica just fine. The bodywork is shockingly straight and clean and thanks to the low mileage, all the totally unobtainable parts are still in place and in excellent condition. Build quality is typical Toyota with nice gaps and neat trim and this car doesn't look almost 40 years old, does it? The styling has really held up well! The big black rubber bumpers don't look as awkward on this car as on so many of its contemporaries (I'm looking at you Mercedes 450SL) and the rear window slats are a performance look that practically defined the 1970s. Yeah, it's safe to say that we dig this car.
The tan bucket seat interior is totally original, which, given the mileage, shouldn't be surprising to anyone. What is surprising is how modern it feels from behind the wheel, with supportive seats, a great driving position, and a slick-shifting 5-speed manual gearbox. The carpets are a little dirty and the horn button is missing, but the list of faults in this car is notably short. We love the little metal cages on the vents, the bright, crisp instruments that look suspiciously like those in a 1970 Camaro, and the very 1970s compartmentalization of all the controls like the set of some sci-fi show. The back seat is well-contoured for two and really uncomfortable for three and under the hatch there's a huge storage area that offers nice carpets and a tie-down strap for your cargo.
The 2200cc inline-four feels energetic and eager, moving the lightweight Celica with ease. Typical of Toyota, it's really packed in there, but thanks to its bulletproof reliability and low mileage, you won't need to spend a ton of time under here. It's quite stock, from the air cleaner assembly to the hose clamps to the decals in their proper places and its low mileage status is apparent everywhere you look. The 5-speed is a slick shifter and yes, this Celica is rear-wheel drive, making it a very entertaining handler on twisty roads. It's quite clean underneath with no issues and plenty of originality and the single exhaust system gives it just the right 4-cylinder buzz to match its look. Fresh Minilite-style wheels have been fitted, and they're exactly the right choice, especially with modern 14-inch Goodyear radials wrapped around them.
Go ahead, try to find a nicer one. And don't laugh, because Japanese cars are the next big thing. No, this one won't make you rich overnight, but we'll wager that there will always be a line of guys eagerly waiting to own this Celica. Call today!