Hooniverse Asks- Seventh-Generation Toyota Celica, Brah! Or Blah?

When it comes to new cars, there aren’t that many sporty FWD coupes around. This was a category that used to be rife with competition – you couldn’t swing a dead cat but for hitting a Prelude, Eclipse, Scirocco, or, in its later years, a Celica – and most all of those cars were pretty darn fun to drive. I think that the seventh generation of Celica – its fourth since making the switch to front-driver – is also one of the most arresting car designs ever offered on a small coupe.
Now, I know we all like our sporty cars to be rear-wheel drive and manually transmitted, but considering the space and cost efficiencies of front wheel drive, and the fact that almost all the little sporty cars were based on more plebeian sedan hardware, it’s simply a fact of life that understeer was going to rule the day in these economical but engaging rides. The seventh series may not have offered AWD and an intercooled turbo mill like the Alltrac editions of its closest predecessors, but the 140-bhp produced by its 1.8-litre VVT-i four was a pretty good starting place. With 180-horses on tap, the 2ZZ-GE-powered GT-S gave drivers even more to play with, and both of those engines could be paired with a 6-speed stick.
Not only was the Celica in its early aughts guise a looker and a reasonable performer, but through Toyota’s performance arm, TRD, even more fun could be wrung out of the platform. The thing of it is, these days you hardly ever come across one of these Celicas that hasn’t been marred by some spectacularly horrible body kit. I know owners want to express themselves but whatever happened to getting a mis-spelled tattoo? I think that a stock seventh gen Celica, especially the GT-S model, is an under appreciated car. Do you share those thoughts? Should we all be snapping up clean and original low milage examples as investments? What do you think about these pointy Celicas, do they warrant a Brah! or a Blah?
Image: CarinImage

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

  1. LTDScott Avatar

    Looks fast.

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      I guess the fact that we remember them means that one aspect of those ads was effective.

    2. Kiefmo Avatar

      I thought that series was quite clever.
      [youtube UK3GOFqVSyI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK3GOFqVSyI youtube]

      1. BobWellington Avatar

        That's pretty funny. Now all Toyota does today in their ads is proclaim how their cars are sporty and how the owners think they're grounded to the ground. Makes me want to throw up every time I see them.

  2. Mister Sterling Avatar
    Mister Sterling

    Brah! We didn't realize what we had until it was replaced by the Scion tC. While nothing beats the fifth generation GT-Four / All-Trac, the final version had a fun design inside and out. When this car was discontinued, Toyota was dead to me.

    1. GianniBu Avatar

      If Toyota was smart, they would have killed the Scion brand and released the FRS as the Toyota Celica GT86 in the States.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        Scion is intended to be the brand for young, sporty people,
        Lexus is intended to be the brand for people who want high quality and luxury,
        Prius is the (sub)brand for people who want to be fuel efficient and/or "green",
        so by default I guess Toyota is for the people who don't want performance, luxury, quality or economy…? I must admit I'm a little befuddled by Toyota's brand management.

  3. Vavon Avatar

    Blah, I prefer my Toyota Celicas older…
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/78/Celica2000gt.jpg&quot; width="640/">

  4. 7FIAT's Later Avatar
    7FIAT's Later

    Brah! Always been a Celica fan, but oddly have never owned a Japanese car.

  5. Eric Rood Avatar
    Eric Rood

    Generally blah, but the JGTC GT300 Celicas were pleasing to the eye, at least.
    <img src="http://www.pandora.nu/yazzaka/file/PC/GT073-019.JPG&quot; width="400">
    <img src="http://2000gt.net/Competition/SuperGT/GT300/CelicaEspelir2004.jpg&quot; width="400">

  6. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Time has been kind to it. I mean it was ugly when it came out, and it's still no looker, but it is aging surprisingly well. A lot of its styling has sort of spread to other cars in the meantime, so it looks quite modern today.

    1. Hatchtopia Avatar

      Toyota could have this in their showrooms right now, and it would be the most attractive vehicle there, and not look dated at all. Weird.

    2. Harvey Duncan Avatar
      Harvey Duncan

      Pretty much. It was ahead of its time. Same can be said for the exterior of vehicles like Aztek and Vehicross. Today we have vehicles like the 500L, Juke, and Cherokee that all bring cues of those vehicles.

  7. Kiefmo Avatar

    In college, after I got my license back (another story that's less interesting), I decided to try out the local SCCA autocross (Middle GA SCCA), which at that time met at a high school parking lot in Warner Robins. At the time, I had only my '96 Geo Prizm 1.6L with the "really, just 3 forward speeds?" automatic, which belonged to my parents and was thus not mine to modify, or, preferably, sell for something more entertaining to drive.
    The Geo, with its fat 185-series Goodyear Eagle GT meats, was surprisingly tossable, so while it certainly wasn't fast, I was able to match or beat the times of more hamfisted guys in Neons and Civics. To top it off, it carried the inside rear wheel about 6" off the ground in hard corners, which was entertaining to anyone watching. Then there was the Ringer.
    The Ringer was a prepped-as-much-as-possible-for-H-stock Celica GT 5spd. It had some of the interior removed, an exhaust that dumped off of the cat, Konis set to maximum bound, and Hankook ventus meats on stock wheels. This thing was a wonder to watch on the course. Its reflexes were unmatched, and the driver seemed to be at one with the machine. It was a full 12s faster than anything I had done, which on this short course was an eternity.
    It embarassed the times of a Z06 and Viper that had come out to play that day, and it was only bested by what someone suggested was an old GA Tech FSAE car being run by some alums (never confirmed, as they had no livery, just a beat up van and a stupid fast cart with a bike motor, and I didn't talk to them). I talked to the owner about the car after watching him run, and it turned out he was actually practicing for a run at the H stock SOLO II title for that year.

    1. Hatchtopia Avatar

      I ran a Prizm in autocross once. Was my only time and don't know why I haven't been back, other than a succession of Rangers and Escapes since then.

  8. muthalovin Avatar

    Split the difference between brah and blah. It is a decent car, with decent looks, but, for me, mostly unremarkable. Still, it was a cool econocoupe of its time, something that is really lacking these days.

  9. Newport Pagnell Avatar
    Newport Pagnell

    I went to the press launch for these and Toyota was involved in Indycar at the time. They looked to integrate some open-wheelness to these. If you squint hard, you'll see some front wing elements in the front fascia and the body line was supposed to mimic sidepods. Centerlock appearing wheels completed the "look". You'll see that Mercedes and Ferrari later tied in their street car design with elements of the racecars. I think these still look fresh and have aged well.

  10. pj134 Avatar

    Brah! I think hatch acceptance is what killed the FWD coupe.

  11. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

    Took this picture from my office window just now.
    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/9ztQy8y.jpg&quot; width=400>
    I walk by this car every day. It's got all the boy racer stuff that usually end up on these Celicas–smoked headlights, silly body kit, absurd wing. . . . It's everything I hate about rice rocket sportscars.
    But I love it.
    It's beautiful and sexy and it looks like it's speeding when it's sitting still in the parking lot. It's everything most "JDM yo" guys are going for but fail to attain.
    And I probably wouldn't've noticed if I didn't walk by it every day.

  12. dukeisduke Avatar

    I like the styling, but a friend of mine hates it – he says the stylists forgot to design a roof, then hastily slapped something on at the last minute, and pushed it out the door.

  13. dukeisduke Avatar

    Personally I think they ruined the Celica when they switched it to FWD.

  14. ramLlama Avatar

    Its looks wrote checks that its mechanics could not cash. I feel that the MR2 Sypder of similar vintage is the more interesting Toyota sports car swan song.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      As a former MR-S owner I'm inclined to agree, the only thing that stopped the MR-S from legendary status was that unreliable 1ZZ engine. It's strange that the high revving, more powerful, but less mid range flexible 2ZZ found its way into the Celica but not the MR2. Had it done so, it would be undoubtedly regarded as the greatest MR2 of them all and kept the lotus elise honest. It's just a brilliant chassis but with a so so engine.

      1. Newport Pagnell Avatar
        Newport Pagnell

        I have a '05 MR2, 90k miles and the 1ZZ(whole car) has been nothing but reliable. Bad rap goes to the 00-02 engines that had bad pre-cats and the silica from them got sucked into the engine and scoured the cylinders. It would have been quite the car w/ the 2zz. Too bad.

        1. crank_case Avatar

          Yes, the issue was sorted 04, but it was more than pre-cats, the piston rings were also undersize and oil consumption in many cars was excessive, the pre-cats disintegration was often a symptom of engine issues dues to oil being thrown up into them, which helped break down the pre-cats, which in turn sped up the engines demise. In my case, engine failure occured with no pre-cat disintegration. If you got the engine rebuilt with the newer spec pistons/rings and gut the pre-cats for good measure, that sorts things long term. It was all too little too late, production figures were well down by 2004 and the car was pretty much done in terms of sales.
          Thing is too, this was a car that aimed itself at the MX5/Miata but was content to level peg with it in terms of power output while being immensely less practical. It wasn't helped by the fact that the more composed MR chassis highlighted the low power more than low rear grip FR MX5. I think it need a bit more poke, not because 140bhp was inadequate, but to distance itself from the MX5 and convince some of the SW20 owners who were probably perplexed by the newer cars more lightweight roadster direction.

  15. Devin Avatar

    I like it, but I would like it more if it would come in GT-FOUR.

  16. Hatchtopia Avatar

    I kinda want one. Been thinking about a Late 80s to 90s sport coupe for a while. This generation of Celica is generally a bit more than what I would want to spend, but they're good looking and I would assume to be pretty reliable. Only problem is, I actually saw a third-generation Celica with a red interior and now I can't forget.

  17. Piston Slap Yo Mama Avatar
    Piston Slap Yo Mama

    I was living in Japan in '00 when Vincent Gallo was somehow chosen to market the 6th gen Celica there. As much as I liked Buffalo 66, I think that Gallo is the douchiest of bags, so the ad certainly did me no favors even though I would've been the target audience for this Celica.
    (I tried clicking the "Embed Video" link for the example YouTube video but it says "unable to parse URL" so instead I linked to an image. Hooniverse: please fix your commenting system. I'm quite irritated at how long it's been flaky, needing page reloads and etc.)
    <img src="http://puppet-chirashi.ocnk.net/data/puppet-chirashi/product/EuroUS/celica001L.jpg"&gt;

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      Buffalo 66 was terrific and Gallo is a db.
      [youtube 2YC_zb1c7x8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YC_zb1c7x8 youtube]
      To embed remove the "s" from the "https"

      1. Piston Slap Yo Mama Avatar
        Piston Slap Yo Mama

        I did remove the "s", I used the YouTube link it provides when one clicks the 'share' button which is not a secured link. Maybe I'm the only person noticing that Hooniverse's commenting system often has hiccups and requires page refreshes to properly display.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          The "youtu.be" version never works; only the "youtube.com" version of the URL can be properly parsed (and only after removing the "s" from "https" as well).

          1. Piston Slap Yo Mama Avatar
            Piston Slap Yo Mama

            Ach zo! Totally not apparent. It should parse https URL's as well as the youtu.be extensions. Most web dev's would sort that out in 15 billable minutes.

          2. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

            I gather IntenseDebate has been in a 'lights are on but nobody answers' sort of situation for a while now.
            It's not that it doesn't work, it's that it must be made to work, which I think is sort of appropriate for Hooniverse.
            I think the intricacies of fuctionating the youtube embedder should be added to the 'how to add images' link at the bottom of the page.

  18. Alan Cesar Avatar
    1. Hatchtopia Avatar

      See, I'll be in the minority here, but I think that's a sharp looking car. Just should have been the third generation Probe instead of a Mercury.

  19. Maymar Avatar

    I think they still look pretty good, the pedigree is relatively there with the high-revving GTS, but there's two problems. First, let's not kid ourselves about the space benefits of FWD, these are tiny inside (and I'm on the low end of average sized), and the Acura RSX exists.

  20. oldcarjunkie Avatar

    To my eyes it is a good looking and desirable car. They have held their value amazingly well over the years so I'm unlikely to pay the premium needed to obtain a decent one.

  21. Harvey Duncan Avatar
    Harvey Duncan

    I've also noticed the relatively clean aging of the earlier 7th gen Celica. The RSX is still a cleaner look, but when you look at the comparisons between the two cars back when they were new, the bodies pretty much summed up what you'd get– the RSX was a nice balance, while the Celica was a little more hard edged dynamically.
    RSX had the same problem as the Si hatches in the tire department, making things like grip and braking lackluster compared to the Celica numbers. Celica, RSX, and even the Si were good chassis, the Celica GTS just did the most from the factory. But it's also easier to find a clean RSX Type S than it is a clean Si hatch (albeit a failry pedestrian car compared to the GTS or RSX) or Celica GTS.

  22. SSurfer321 Avatar

    My sister-in-law had one. I think it might have been red. I remember them being notorious for exploding oil filters. A little to boy-racer-ish for me.

  23. quattrovalvole Avatar

    I liked these when they were new. Too bad people ruined them with stickers and body kits. Finding an unmolested Celica nowadays is probably as hard as finding a stock Si.

  24. Preludacris Avatar

    When they were new I thought they were lame. In all the wisdom of my (even younger) youth, they were clearly for poseurs. Who else buys a fwd, sporty-wannabe, weird looking coupe-is-it-a-hatchback… thing?
    Then came a time when I pulled up behind a Celica, realized I was essentially driving one with an 'H' badge on it, and changed my opinion of it mid-snicker.
    There go I, but for the grace of Soichiro Honda.

  25. El_Martillo Avatar

    So is it Celica as in "Sell-i-Ka" or Celica as in "Sell-lika"?

  26. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I think the rear 3/4 view is better than the front
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6f/Toyota_Celica_rear_20080521.jpg&quot; width=400>
    I love that the tail-lights have absolutely nothing at all in common with the rest of the design.

  27. clawbrant Avatar

    "Give em sharp lines and angles, that's what the kids like." (Sigh.) I preferred the 6th generation, clean, nice smooth curves, attractive and sporty but not overdone. Especially if you got one in dark green with no spoiler. Of course these days they only come in four flavors: beat to hell, modified, beat to hell and modified, and automatic.

  28. adam Avatar

    L O T U S E L I S E

  29. Lokki Avatar

    Somewher I got the impressions that the engines in these were easy to grenade, although I didn't actually know anybody who owned one. True or false ?