Toyota Celica

7 Mar, 2007 (All day)

Seven generations of the cool coupe came and went before it was axed last year. Here we rate the final four...

Celica (fourth generation)
From sleek coupé to rally legend and back, the Toyota Celica changed a lot during its lifespan. It was killed off last year, but in 1986 the sleek styling and sporty looks of the fourth incarnation made a big impact.

If you want one, there’s a choice of two engines. The 147bhp 2.0-litre GT comes with either a five-speed manual or three-speed auto transmission, while the 182bhp GT4 is only available with a conventional box.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find unmolested examples of either car – even if mods only extend to a set of aftermarket alloys – so an impeccable service history is essential.

Under-bonnet tweaks are common, too. Induction kits are a popular addition and replacement pipework between the GT4’s intercooler, turbo and inlet manifold should be expected, because it wears out. However, beware of aftermarket boost controllers: increasing turbo pressure is an easy way to gain power, but go too far and it can cause serious damage. Check for intercooler air leaks, inlet manifold cracks and oil anywhere on the turbo housing. Also look for fluid leaks on the block or cylinder head.

Rust is a major problem, so examine the sills, wheelarches, sunroof, rear hatch and suspension mounts. Noises from the rear point towards a worn diff mount (£120) or pinion bearing (£250). Prices start at around £600 for a roadworthy GT, while a clean example shouldn’t cost more than £1,500. Expect to pay up to £2,000 for a mint GT4 with a perfect history.

Celica (fifth generation)
The more refined styling of the fifth-generation Celica was a hit, despite the car’s 100kg weight gain over the previous model. The 2.0-litre and turbo engines were continued, although the GT now came with 160bhp, while the GT-Four had 200bhp. An auto was available on the lesser model, but the GT-Four was exclusively manual.

A facelift in 1991 included stiffer suspension, plus a three-way catalytic convertor, bigger brakes and larger wheels for the GT. Cabrios and four-wheel-steering-equipped cars are available, but these will be grey imports.

All UK-spec GT-Fours are wide-bodied with flared arches – and the most desirable is the Carlos Sainz edition. Launched in 1992 and sold until the fifth generation was replaced, the car is named after the Toyota rallying legend. It has a number of detail changes requested by the firm’s competition arm, including a new bonnet, front bumper and water-to-air turbo intercooler.

With all this complexity, a full service history is vital, so check the paperwork carefully. Cambelts should be replaced every 60,000 miles, but many owners swap them sooner. Regular oil changes are a must, too: 9,000 miles is recommended, but 5,000 is preferable. The GT-Four was a gearbox wrecker, so check for wear or have the car inspected professionally.

Expect to pay between £600 and £2,000 for a GT and £800-£3,000 for a standard GT-Four.

The late-model Sainz editions attract a £500 premium over the regular GT-Four, but finding an unmodified original car can be tricky.

Celica (sixth generation)
Love-it-or-loathe-it looks marked the debut of the next Celica in 1994. Curvy styling, twin headlights, an updated interior and improved spec for the 173bhp GT make it a better appointed car. The 152mph GT-Four’s revamped engine produces 240bhp – although it’s thirsty, returning around 29mpg on motorway runs.

All GT-Fours will have air-con, but it’s an option on the GT. Don’t pay over the odds for it, though, because GTs equipped with it usually sell for the same price as those that don’t.

The 114bhp 1.8-litre ST offers cut-price style for those who don’t mind the 10-second slog from 0-60mph. Expect to pay a dealer £2,800 for a P-reg ST, but we’ve seen cars fetching £1,200 privately. The pretty GT-based convertible was introduced in 1997 along with the 1.8-litre 25th Anniversary edition based on the ST. Budget between £3,600 and £5,300 for a forecourt convertible, or £3,000-£4,500 privately.

The GT-Four is ripe for modding, so watch for performance tweaks. The gearbox and clutch are weak – and expensive to replace – so have these checked. Cambelts need to be switched every 60,000 miles or sooner, and oil changes should be every six months or 5,000 miles.

Providing you can afford the maintenance costs, fuel bills and insurance, the GT-Four is the pick of the bunch. The 195-litre boot is considerably less than the GT’s 283 litres, but is far better with the rear seats folded. UK-spec GT-Fours are more desirable than grey import versions, and fetch between £4,500-£6,000.

Celica (seventh generation)
The last Celica was never campaigned as a rally car, and doesn’t offer four-wheel drive, but it features an all-new chassis and fresh engines. It arrived in October 2000 with a pair of powerplants and three trim levels. The 140bhp VVT-i is well appointed and can return 45mpg, while cars with the Premium package boast climate control, an electric sunroof and leather seats.

The VVTL-i 190 has a screaming 189bhp engine and is capable of 43mpg. Yet the less power­ful unit virtually matches the flagship for low-end muscle, so is a better bet for more relaxed drivers.
All UK models come with a six-speed manual and no auto option. T Sport trim adds traction and stability control, a CD player and air-con to the 190 package, while the T Sport-based GT has lowered suspension, a rear spoiler, front bumper and side skirts, 17-inch alloys and Alcantara seats.

However the 190 model needs to be worked hard, because peak power is delivered at a heady 7,800rpm. The engine revs to an incredible 9,000rpm, so try before you buy, because while some drivers love the manic power delivery, others will find it tiring. However, there’s little
to worry about mechanically, thanks to the firm’s famed build quality and reliability.

Best of the bunch is a late 190 GT with most of its three-year warranty still intact. You’ll pay a dealer £14,500 for a 2006 55-plate car, and £500 less privately. If performance isn’t important, early V-reg versions of the 140bhp model will set you back £5,300 privately, £6,000 from a dealer. A 2006 06-plate example can be yours for £12,900.

In detail

Fourth generation
Price range: £500-£2,000
Manufactured from: 1986-1990
Engines: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 147bhp (GT); 2.0-litre turbo 4cyl, 182bhp (GT4), both petrol
Insurance groups: 15-16
Beware! Rust on sills, around arches and on tailgate, accident damage, blown turbos, cracked inlet manifold and intercooler damage on GT4 models, leaking sunroofs, worn interiors, clutch slip, rear differential noises on four-wheel-drive versions
Best bit? Powerful engine

Fifth generation
Price range: £500-£4,500
Manufactured from: 1990-1994
Engines: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 160bhp (GT-i); and 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo, 200bhp (GT-Four/Carlos Sainz special edition), all petrol
Insurance groups: 15-17
Beware! Missing service history and paperwork, blown turbos, leaking intercooler, accident damage, suspension problems, uneven tyre wear, worn or broken gearboxes, grey imports with an untraceable past
Best bit? 4WD transmission

Sixth generation
Price range:
£1,000-£6,000
Manufactured from: 1994-1999
Engines: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 114bhp (ST); 2.0-litre 4cyl, 173bhp (GT); and 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo, 240bhp (GT-Four), all petrol
Beware! 1.8 STs which have been dressed to look like 2.0 GTs, patchy service history, missing cambelt changes, GT-Four replicas, blown turbochargers, abused gearboxes, fluid leaks from the engine, damaged suspension, expensive clutch replacement
Best bit? Exterior styling

Seventh generation
Price range: £4,950-£21,000
Manufactured from: 1999-2006
Engines: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 140bhp; 1.8-litre 4cyl, 189bhp, both petrol
Insurance groups: 13-15
Beware! Suspension alignment problems, worn and sagging rear tailgate dampers, poor service history, kerbed alloy wheels, crash damage. Ensure essential recall work on fuel tank and brakes has been carried out
Best bit? Free-revving engine

Auto Express 1,349
For more breaking car news and reviews, subscribe to Auto Express - available as a weekly magazine and on your iPad. We'll give you 6 issues for £1 and a free gift!

Sponsored Links