1 of 900: 1981 Toyota Celica Convertible

What better city than Beverly Hills for a custom coachbuilding company to turn 900 Celicas into convertibles. This 1981 Toyota Celica convertible is one of those 900 cars and it can be found here on eBay in Hustisford, Wisconsin. There is an unmet opening bid of $3,000.

The car looks a little rough in this photo. I’m not sure what’s going on with the trim piece on the bottom of the driver’s door and the hood shut line isn’t the best, but overall it looks like a solid car. The seller doesn’t mention rust at all but they do say that it has its share of bumps and bruises and rips and tears, as do most of us.

This is a little better view of the car, and it sure seems like Toyota could have sold a lot of these if they would have made a factory convertible. American Custom Coachworks, LTD out of Beverly Hills, CA did the conversions on about 900 Celicas of this era and every now and then one comes up for sale. This one will need quite a bit of detail work to be like new again but it looks solid and pretty complete overall.

Yes, it’s an automatic, I’ll get that out of the way first. If it were a sporty model Celica like a GT or Supra it would be nice to have a 5-speed, but for boulevard cruising, there’s something about putting it in D and just getting about your business.

The engine is Toyota’s 22R, as you can see. That’s a 2.4L inline-four which would have had right about 100 hp. There is no word on how or even if it runs but I’m assuming that it runs. The seller lists the mileage at just under 66,000 miles so if it’s been a Wisconsin car since 1981, it’s possible that it has never been driven in the winter which could explain the seemingly solid condition. Any thoughts on this Celica ragtop?


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  1. LARRY

    I had one of these in hard top..gt model with five speed..manual sunroof and I loved it. The only problem is on a nice quiet night you could hear it rusting I don’t understand what the problem was with these. Honestly when I bought the car there was no rust anywhere but after three years there was rust underneath, in the quarter panels and right fender. I actually kept this car detailed and in sc no road salt and not near the coast. I guess cheap metal.

    Like 3
  2. Rube Goldberg Member

    Hey, hey, Husty, Wis., my 2nd home for years. My folks had a cabin there. I like these cars too, but this looks kind of corny with the top up, and in Wis. I bet it was up a lot. They were serious rusters. I read, Japan bought rusty scrap metal from us, 60’s Chevy’s, mostly, and wasn’t treated properly. Either way, it was a win-win for Toyota and still a nice car. And the author advocating an automatic, has the world truly gone mad?

    Like 3
    • grant

      Didn’t the Japanese melt all that scrap down? I’d think that would take out the impurities.

      Like 1
  3. JOHN Member

    Some convertible conversions look pretty good, I don’t personally think this is one of them! It doesn’t look good with the top down and it looks even worse with the top up. Just an opinion…

    Like 4
  4. Miguel

    If you want a Celica convertible, hold out for a Sunchaser.

  5. Andrew Franks

    I don’t think so Miguel; frankly I though the sunchasers were not that attractive. But I think this one is, and if i had the room I would jump on it for a reasonable price, fix it and drive it. To each his own, my friend.

  6. Cliff L.

    I have 1981 Celica Coachman custom convertible like this one, but 5 speed with 85k original miles. No rust and alot of fun to drive. No rust, but custom top has been a problem. Replaced it in 1990 for $1000.

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