Donated Liftback: 1977 Toyota Celica GT

Hard to believe, but this 1977 Toyota Celica GT liftback was donated to a national charitable organization. I’m not sure what transpires for an owner not to attempt to sell a classic car like this, or for the owner’s heirs to do the same, but at least it will have a shot at going to an enthusiast owner at the end of this no reserve auction. The seller routinely gets interesting cars and trucks in stock, all of which arrive from local charities, but rarely are the vehicles as cool as this first-generation Celica GT sitting on later Supra wheels. Find it here on eBay where it’s listed as a running, driving example at no reserve and with bids approaching $5,000.

The Celica of this era has been charmingly referred to as a Mustang imitator, but it was actually the other way around by the time the 1975 model had arrived. Detroit’s sporty coupe market was flat-lining, as the interest in thirsty muscle cars began to wane and shoppers looked for alternatives that were still stylish but more miserly on fuel. Toyota timed the Celica’s arrival perfectly, as it offered decent performance with handling to match, not to mention driving dynamics that put cars like the Mustang II to shame. Although this edition of the Celica came with unfortunate safety bumpers, those can be swapped out for the slimmer chrome units off of an earlier model.

Other ways the Celica stood apart from domestic competition was with a sporty cockpit that was spacious enough but also designed to be more driver-focused. It had to have been a revelation when new, which is likely why the first generation Celica remains a minor icon today. I just recently sold a project-grade Celica ST out of my friend’s property in Georgia to a gentleman from Massachusetts who drove 16 hours to get it. The reason why? He owned multiple first-generation Celicas while living in South America, and knows how hard they are to come by. The one I sold was a coupe; the liftbacks are more desirable and significantly harder to track down.

The seller notes that the Celica will come with lots of OEM parts, but apparently the passenger side bucket seat is not included. The Celica is equipped with a limited-slip differential, manual transmission, and the venerable 20R four-cylinder engine. The later wheels from a Supra may not be a subdued look, but at least a previous owner kept the larger rolling stock in the family. The listings for these donation cars are usually pretty vague, and the seller simply notes that the suspension should “…get a full work-up.” I’m not sure what that means, but I”m guessing the ride quality needs some work. A minor concern for potentially snagging a collectible Japanese car with no reserve to clear.


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  1. Tom Member

    Wow, I was 11 in 1977, can’t say I remember seeing one of these and I grew up in an automotive business that I started working around our shop at about that age. Being Ziebart most of the cars in the shop were brand new.

    This is nicer than most of the cars that normally run through this site ! Can’t believe someone donated it. Wow.


    Like 9
    • Michael Pressman

      I’m the same age as you, then. I remember these because my teacher had a Celica. He was a huge guy. We all wondered how that worked with the little car.

  2. george

    most car donation charities are a scam. they only have to pay 15 percent to the charity. the rest is eaten up my administrative costs and you only get a write off for what the vehicle sells for. Why do you think they advertise so much? its a business pure and simple that plays off of peoples emotions. And just because they are a charity doesnt mean they are honest. buyer be ware

    Like 24
    • Ken Jennings

      I agree, I will only donate to a reputable national organization or a local charity that I can see what is being done. I donated a car about ten years ago to a place about ten miles from home. I knew the people who ran it and the good work that they do.

      Like 2
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      And, it would seem that the seller is doubly protected if the car is a total POS. “Hey, you bought a donated vehicle, we can’t be held liable”

      Like 1
      • Stevieg Member

        In Wisconsin, the seller can’t be held liable on a used vehicle no matter what. There is no lemon law here.

  3. Ken Jennings

    I remember going into a very small store front in Winona Minnesota to see the two cars the dealer had to sell in those days. I laughed at the concept, told my friend that they were never going to sell in this country. Was I wrong. Of course, I drove a big V8 in those days that handled crummy and got 10 MPG, but I thought THAT was a real car. Also what I remember, is how bad the plastic interior smelled to me. Wonder if it was just those two cars, or the whole era of Toyotas. Didn’t go back to see a foreign car for another 15 years, my mistake. By the time I looked again, they did smell much better.

    Like 5
    • Jon

      I had one, GT liftbback 20R engine 5 speed louvered back window. That car was a blast. Sold my 76 lincoln town car to buy the Toyota for about 3 grand in 83, and the gas savings paid for the $60 every two weeks car payments. Drove that car for 10 years and then my father in law needed it, I had four other cars and let it go. Most fun car I ever had

      Like 2
  4. Anthony svatos

    I owned a 1977 GT Sedan version, I put those cool louvers on the back window and install a front spoiler, thought I had the coolest thing around, it was a very pleasurable experience to own one of those back then, extremely dependable virtually maintenance-free, however it started rusting within four years, mine also had a manual transmission but I did not elect to have air conditioning, I was young and didn’t have much money at the time. I can remember paying $5000 for the vehicle then , I traded it in on a Datsun 280Z. I still think about that old Toyota Often as it was my first real car.

    Like 6
  5. Jay

    I was 10 in 1977, but bought this car (in Lemon Yellow) in 1984 from my next-door neighbor as my first car. I thad 70K miles on it and I paid $3,000. Drove it across the country (to and from home in Los Angeles and college in Baltimore) eight times and finally sold it in 1991 ($500!) with 168K miles on it so I could buy my first real (component) stereo. I LOVED that car. My nostalgia replacement now is a 1994 Mazda RX7 (unfortunately could only get the one I wanted in Vintage Red instead of Competition Yellow Metallic). If I had been able to get it in that color, it truly would have been a worthy successor.

    Like 4
  6. gerardfrederick

    In 1977 I was finance manager at the largest Toyota store in the USA, Longo Toyota, then in El Monte Ca. We could not keep enough Celicas in stock it was the hottest seller at that time. I remember it being a fine, sporting car, at the time without equal.

    Like 8
  7. Ort

    This brings back memories! I had a 76 GT coupe. Lord I miss that car! My brother is going to restore his ‘87 RX7 twin turbo and it will eventually be mine.

    Like 1
  8. Terry Bowman

    I had one of these 77 Toyota Celica Lift Back, 20R. Bought it two years old and transformed it into a “Tiger”, which was the sport addition, with a front spoiler, which my wife would knock it off every time she would park at a concrete wheel stop. I taught her after a couple of times knocking it off, to pick it up and put it into the lift back.LOL It had the “ESP”, which this one here does not. I also had louver
    shade over the back window. It was a great car, but I was afraid for the family, if it was involved in a accident, so I traded it in for a Chrysler 5th Ave (86′), which was also a great car, but safer.

  9. Rodney

    This is an auction within an auction.

    I didn’t even know ebay allowed that.

    • DayDreamBeliever Member


      I don’t follow. This is an auction run by eBay user “justdonated”.

  10. JamieB1966 Member

    My best friend had the non-GT Celica of this era our junior-senior years of high school . Being used to Detroit land yachts of the era (hey, we were a family of nine!) I found the Celica cramped and buzzy. She loved it, though. Her brother borrowed it and rolled it taking an exit ramp too fast. The drivers behind him stopped to check on him (he was fine), helped him put it back rubber-side-down and he drove it home!

    Like 1
  11. FOG

    Somebody got a hell of a deal on this car. Hope they treasure it for a long time.

  12. Stevieg Member

    I had a coupe version of this car years ago, stick shift with a sunroof. I really liked that car!
    I sold it to buy a really clean 1976 Eldorado coupe. I wish I still had both lol.
    One day, I might have another. So many cars, so little time and money lol.

  13. Doc Stevens

    That might be the one I bought with 500 miles on it, 1978! The previous owner was desperate to sell-needed $3800. to chase his girlfriend from Poland, Ohio to where she moved, California. I drove it past 200,000!

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