This car is one of the cars that made the American automotive market begin to love the existence and presence of imported Japanese cars in Uncle Sam’s country. Popular through the prestigious WRC ( World Rally Championship ) motorsport event and even before its one-country manufacturer, Subaru introduced the WRX and Mitsubishi series with the Lancer Evolution.
This car is the Toyota Celica. Introduced in 1970, at a time when the car trend of the American Muscle genre was in its prime. American Muscle, which is famous for its engine size and large interior capacity, is the main attraction for automotive enthusiasts in America.
Toyota with its R&D team began to realize this opportunity so that in October 1970, at the Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota introduced their weapons to compete with the popularity of American Muscle . They introduced a 2-door coupe that can accommodate the average American public body height, which is named Celica.
First Generation: Dark Horses in the Golden Age of American Muscle
The Toyota Celica itself is built on the basis of the Toyota Carina model which is slightly larger than its popular model, the Toyota Corolla. The name Celica itself is taken from Latin which means “heavenly”.
Celica is known as a car that is affordable, practical, and has a sporty appearance . Celica was finally released in America in 1971 at a much lower price than its popular rival, the Ford Mustang. Their first model was armed with an Inline 4, 1900cc engine producing about 90 horsepower.
The Toyota Celica is one of the first Japanese cars to be built using an automatic production machine and has a better build quality than its rival production cars. The Toyota Celica is also equipped with disc brakes as a standard feature as well as an independent MacPherson strut suspension on the front drive.
With so many superior features and good build quality , the public is starting to look at this car with a positive outlook. One of them is Ove Anderson, a man from Sweden who used Celica in his first event at the WRC and managed to finish in ninth place.
Second Generation: Mustang Killer
Not long ago, Toyota again made changes to the Celica model by introducing the Toyota Celica GT. This model is equipped with a more powerful trim and engine. Then in 1976 Toyota again introduced the latest Celica model by using a liftback design on the rear of the car, having a 2200cc engine capacity which was named Toyota Celica GT Liftback.
Some people think that this latest model was deliberately created by imitating the design style of its rival, the Ford Mustang. Even so, this model is considered successful in the sales sector. This type also won the title as the 1976 Import Car of the Year from the American MotorTrend magazine.
In its second generation, the Toyota Celica re-updated the Celica design by sending the Toyota SoCal Design Studio. This second model has dimensions that are slightly larger than the previous model. Toyota claims, this new model has a higher level of comfort.
Still using the Inline 4 engine with a capacity of 2,200cc as in the previous model, the Toyota Celica successfully brought back the 1978 Import Car of the Year title from the same magazine, MotorTrend.
In the second generation Celica, Toyota provides various model options, features and various engine sizes, as well as various transmission options. At that time, Toyota had 49 unique models only of the Celica type. However, it is very unfortunate that given the many options for the Toyota Celica, none of the models of this type are marketed in Indonesia.
Third Generation: Innovation and Creativity
Then in 1980 Toyota again updated the Celica model with a typical 80s car design. The bold design lines and headlights are made to promote the aerodynamic function adapted from the Lamborghini Miura car.
This model was also equipped with various advanced features in its time, such as a digital dashboard and in-car GPS navigation system .
2 years later, in 1982 Toyota introduced their first version of the Celica Turbo on the Japanese market which had a power of 180 horsepower. Even in this model, Toyota is also participating in the Group B Rally by bringing the Toyota Celica which has been modified to have a power of up to 320 horsepower.
However, because the Celica, which was deployed in the Group B Rally , only had rear drive, it failed to compete with various manufacturers’ cars that had 4 wheels. However, that did not stop Celica from winning the motorsport event .
For example, Celica managed to bag a number of victories in the WRC Rally which was held in an African country for 4 consecutive years, so that at that time Celica was nicknamed the King of Africa.
Fourth Generation: From Dust to Asphalt Tracks
In 1985 Toyota introduced the fourth model from the Celica, with a more refined design line for aerodynamic needs and replacing the rear drive with front drive.
The changed engine layout allows Toyota to attach a McPherson Independent Suspension Strut to the rear wheels which is claimed to have a handling advantage on the model. Despite the many negative responses to Toyota regarding its decision to use front-wheel drive, Celica still gave a surprise by dominating the IMSA Racing Series event.
Not long after, Toyota made another update to the Celica by introducing the Celica GT 4. Equipped with a 2000cc turbo engine, this GT 4 model can produce 190 horsepower. This time, Toyota finally embed the All Wheel Drive control with a center locking differential known as the All Trac.
This GT 4 model succeeded in bringing the Toyota name as the first Japanese manufacturer to use All Wheel Drive at the WRC and won many victories over European rivals. From this car also Toyota managed to catapult the name of its racer, Lara and Carlos Sainz as WRC Driver Championship in 1990.
At the end of 1989, Toyota brought back fresh changes to the Celica model, this time Celica has a more modern design and is equipped with a better interior and engine. On the one hand, the previous Celica model has regained the accolades of being a car with outstanding durability from various media.
Fifth Generation: Domination of Celica at the WRC Event
This fifth model also has a special All Trac edition with a more aggressive engine and a sportier look . The fifth model from Celica won various WRC events for 3 consecutive years from 1992 to 1994.
Sixth Generation: Golden Age of Celica
4 years after the launch of the fifth model, the Celica received another design refresh in 1993. In some lucky countries, the sixth generation of the Celica GT 4 has 250 horsepower as the factory default engine.
Not wanting to disappoint its predecessors, the sixth generation Celica also has various successes in the motorsport event , even Rod Millen won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb event with a record time of 40 seconds faster than the previous record. This record lasted for 13 years before finally being broken by Nobuhiro Tajima in 2007.
Seventh Generation: The End of the King’s Journey
Long ago finally in 2000 Toyota introduced the last generation of Celica, the 7th generation, with a design like a modern sports car . Celica, who made her debut to tear down America’s muscle car line , now has her own culture and fans. More than 4.1 million units of Celica have been sold worldwide. It is now more than 50 years since Celica was introduced to the world. Enthusiasts hope that Toyota will bring back more sports cars at an affordable price as they did before.