Japanese for Heavenly Fastback

The A20/35-series Celicas spent decades upon decades failing to distinguish themselves from various other J-tin penalty boxes running people from dead-end job to trailer park and back, perfectly illustrating the bell-curve that is automotive desirability. When introduced in 1970, the A20 Celica (derived from the Latin coelica, meaning “heavenly”) was a perfect shot across the bow of Nissan/Datsun’s 240Z, being both more affordable and more economical while offering a “personal car” experience increasingly in vogue as the ’70s wore on. They were a big hit when new, and now having done their time in collector car purgatory, they’re desirable again. This fastback example wears the ugly Federal bumpers of the later models, but that’s easily rectified.

The 20R – more unkillable than radioactive cockroaches …

It also sports the absolutely immortal 2.2L 20R motor, which will no doubt serve as the blueprint for the powerplants in the primitive armored vehicles of the Lemur Rebellion of 2152. It’s no 18R-G, but hey, there are tons of motors that can slip in place instead of the 20R if you’re looking for more oomph. But let’s be honest for a second … where the Celica really shines is as a wonderful, usable example of the Japanese homage to the muscle car era. From that woodgrain dash to the deep-set instruments inside, to the fastback shape and chrome-bezelled taillights out back, it’s a time machine that won’t sock you in the kidneys at the pump. Can you dig it?
eBay Motors

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Your email address will not be published.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. P161911 Avatar

    Saw a Sunchaser Convertible version of one of these just yesterday. It was parked in front of the local Advance Auto Parts. Complete with a graphics package just like this one:
    <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_zp5hU5oekAI/TPL2XAgniPI/AAAAAAAAFG8/_BsWHbSEq6k/s1600/toyota%2Bsunchaser%2Btop%2Bup.jpg"width=500&gt;

    1. Lotte Avatar

      Whoa…so that's the back half of a cloth roof, and you also have a targa top…?

      1. P161911 Avatar

        Yep, back in the late 1970s when everyone was afraid to make a real convertible. Here is one opened up:
        <img src="http://bringatrailer.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/1980_Toyota_Celica_Griffin_Sunchaser_Convertible_For_Sale_Rear_1.jpg"width=500&gt;
        Lancia, Jaguar, and Triumph did something similar around the same time. The early 911 Targas had something similar too.

  2. tonyola Avatar

    We in the US never got the liftback without the big malaise bumpers, so here's a picture of the 1973 home-market original. 1970 Mustang, anyone?
    <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3187/2822682978_47a09faafe.jpg&quot; width="400/">
    <img src="http://www.seriouswheels.com/pics-1970-1979/1970-Ford-Mustang-Boss-351-custom-nf.jpg&quot; width="400/">

    1. Alex Kierstein Avatar
      Alex Kierstein

      Honestly, the proportions are better on the Toyota, ripoff or not.

      1. tonyola Avatar

        Demerits to Toyota, though, for those dorky fake vents on the C-pillars. In the '70s, the Japanese didn't know when to quit when it came to sticking on trim.

        1. James Avatar

          I'm pretty sure those vents are functional – even if only as exhaust for hot cabin air. They could have found a more tasteful place to put them.
          I agree. It's much better looking than the Mustang, and more functional too since it's a hatchback.
          A pillarless hardtop, fastback, hatchback. Wow. And RWD. It's everything a coupe should be.

          1. tonyola Avatar

            Unlike the first-generation notchback, the fastback isn't a true pillarless hardtop. Those rear side windows are fixed in place.

        2. lanny Avatar

          that was an intentional design feature of japanese cars from that era. because the roads in cities were so crowded you often could not see the whole car the designers tacked 'interesting' styling elements everywhere so that even if all you saw was the B-pillar or one front fender there was 'something' there.

    2. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

      Even with the federal bumpers, the resemblance is unmistakable.

    3. dukeisduke Avatar

      One of the car magazines at the time called it the Japanese Mustang. The title car takes me back to high school senior year, as a friend got a brand new one as a HS graduation present from his grandmother. He enlisted in the USAF, to be an aircraft mechanic.

  3. Alex Kierstein Avatar
    Alex Kierstein

    I agree, and I like the notchbacks better. But it's not Notchback Friday, now is it?

    1. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
      Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

      …..no, sir…….(slumps shoulders, avoids making eye contact)

  4. facelvega Avatar

    Personally I prefer an RX-3
    <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4050/5081535540_7edfa2065f_o_d.jpg&quot; width="500">

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      I love the negative space in the grille. Not too much cool styling came out of the '70s, but for a while there, car's snouts were…snoutier….and had some real depth to their front-end shape.

  5. Bret Avatar

    My first car was a '74 Celica GT with fiberglass flares and ducktail spoiler just like in Scrogzila's shot above. It was a California car so it had the glacial 18-RC. Even with the drowsy accelerative power, I loved that car and would love to have another someday.
    I knew a guy with an 18-RG powered Celica, that was some car… I always thought the 18RG head looked very similar in design to an Alfa head. [Thoughts of an Alfa powered LeMons Celica come to mind.]

  6. muthalovin Avatar

    I do believe I can dig it.

  7. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Okay, there's something that challenges the Lerma for "Ultimate Craigslist AMC Find."

    1. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

      If you find a Lerma on Craigslist, I want to know, pronto! Schmo has my e-mail addy (yes, I'm very serious).
      I've seen Eagle Sundancers on ebay, but never CL. I wasn't aware of the Concord variant.

  8. highmileage_v1 Avatar

    I had a '74 with twin Webers, header, radical cam, lowered springs, fiberglass panels. It was an absolute hoot. Pulled like hell up to 8000rpm. I yanked all the good stuff off it when I left home and gave the car to my Mother. She got another 6 years out of it before it threw the timing chain. Excellent car.

  9. gooseboy78 Avatar

    now everybody refers to these models as mustang celicas, the 18rg fits in quite well but i fell in love with the 4age or 4agze(supercharged) noise