Throwback Thursday – Toyota CelicaSep 30th, 2019
In 1964, Ford released a vehicle that all but created a new class of car called the “Pony Car.” A Pony Car is a vehicle that is sporty, compact, styled, and most of all, affordable. This vehicle that Ford released was, of course, the Mustang. In 1970 at the Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota displayed for the first time their response to Ford’s new Pony car. It was going to be a two-door hardtop that was focused more on the styling and driving enjoyment aspects of owning a vehicle. It was called the Toyota Celica.
A New Era
When Toyota decided to build the Celica, it almost marked the beginning of a new age for Toyota manufacturing. It was the first Japanese car using state-of-the-art robotics to assemble it. It was the first Japanese car that was designed to accommodate people with six-foot frames, something that was very needed in the International market. It was Toyota’s first car that was built to be “sporty” instead of conventional, with fluid handling and a sport-style suspension.
Over the years, the Celica went through seven different generations until production was halted in 2006. As the years went on, the Celica evolved from a Mustang clone to establish it’s own unique style, creating a look that is unmistakably its own.
In the late 1980s to the early 1990s, Toyota won several WRC (World Rally Championship) championships in a modified GT-4 Celica. Throughout its history racing in the WRC, the Toyota Celica won 38 rallies and 2 championships within 8 years. After Toyota released the 6th generations Celicas, rally teams lobbied to start using the Corolla instead of the Celica. However once Toyota switched over, their success dropped drastically and pulled out of the WRC in favour of F1.
Just Couldn’t Sell-ica (I’m Not Sorry)
In the early 2000s, Celica sales began to drop drastically, and in July 2004, Toyota announced the Celica would be discontinued at the end of the 2005 model year. In 2005, only 3,113 Celicas were sold in the United States. The sports coupe market began shrinking rapidly, and sadly the Celica was one of the victims of this shrinkage.
The Toyota Celica was a mainstay in the Toyota lineup for 35 years and sold over 4 million units. It was Toyota’s first real “sports car” and paved the way for sportier cars in their lineup such as the Toyota 86 and Supra Turbo. The Celica proved that the Japanese could compete with American Muscle Car manufacturers and keep pace with whatever the car market threw at them.