Forest Find: 1982 Toyota Celica GT

At what price point do you decide that a car just isn’t worth rescuing? I honestly have never been able to figure this out, as it seems like if something is cheap enough, I can find a million ways to justify why it’s worth bringing back to life. Key to that strategy is determining if a vehicle is valuable enough on the other side of the rejuvenation equation, which is what may make someone (not me) ponder rescuing this 1982 Toyota Celica GT coupe. It’s clearly been sitting in the woods for some time, with the Georgia trees leaving their mark on the paint, the result of being parked outside since September of 2012. It’s listed here on craigslist for just $600 in Clayton, GA.

The Celica and Supra of this generation are considered desirable by Toyota enthusiasts, owing to their rear-wheel-drive configuration and arguably attractive looks. The next generation of the Celica would transition to front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations, and while both generations are desirable in their own way, the notchback seen here is far more distinctive than the jellybean-like fourth-generation models. Still, you’d be forgiven for not being swayed by the upright rear window given you can barely see it beneath that thick veneer of environmental droppings. It’s good to see the original badges still in place and no damage to the taillights. It’s hilarious how large the bumpers were in the name of safety.

The one downside to this era of the Celica, in my opinion, is that the durable but decidedly un-exotic 22R four-cylinder is the engine of record. I have nothing against the 22R, as its mule-like qualities make it an asset to any small-bodied Toyota truck you find it in. But it’s the truck-like personal of the mill that always made it seem like a bad match for the eye-catching Celica, but Toyota clearly felt otherwise given how many different models made do with the 22R over the years. As an early model, this example is carbureted, which likely makes the already somewhat coarse 22R feel even more like a tractor. The seller notes the brake master cylinder is actively leaking and that there is some rust lurking somewhere on the car itself.

Now, with any car sitting this long, you’re going to have all manners of deferred maintenance issues to tackle, along with plenty of cosmetic work. The seller’s car is at least complete on the inside, with what looks like an original radio still installed in the center stack along with the OEM steering wheel and shift knob. The sunshade on the passenger seat suggests someone loved this Celica enough at one time to try and keep the dash crack-free and the summer sun from trashing the interior. The seller doesn’t provide much info on the cockpit, but it looks to be all there – and honestly, for $600, I wouldn’t badger him too much for extensive photos and details on a car like this. I’d buy it and try to get it to fire off over a long weekend before breaking it down for scrap. What would you do?


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    For the price prior to the bump being posted here I would guess this sold pretty quick. The mild climate where it is followed by it being a sporty Toyota = deal.

    Big hot button for me is its a stick. The need for many to obtain a cheap gas saver with a little work is on every ones list who has a monster truck or Jeep rolling on Bro wheels that is pushing $750 in monthly payments. Combined with a woke economy. Fuel at $4.00 and used car prices at an all time high. This event happened in 2008

    Who ever picked this up for $600. A trip to the carwash and only a set of new ebay tires NOTHING else. Would double his money. Good for them and good find

    Like 5
  2. Jwzg

    I’m curious about what this little guy would look like if they’d bothered to clean it up. The 22R and 5sp transmission were both paradigms of reliability, and made the car fun-to-drive if not all that fast. Being a southern car, you likely aren’t dealing with that much rust, but ‘dem rodents. If it’s too bad, you can haul it to Pull-A-Part and get some of your money back out of it.

    Like 1
  3. Connecticut Mark

    Looks terrible , but I bet that motor will run great, lots of work and cleaning but for 600.00 got to worth it, in my state 12 years in the woods, this would just blend in as a rust bucket. Parts alone worth it !

    Like 6
  4. Mike Evans

    I’d clean that bad boy up if it wasn’t rotted out. I had an 82 gt lift back, I loved that lil car, Pennsylvania winters got it years ago tho. I’m a celica enthusiast that currently owns a 95 gt convertible. These models are getting much much harder to find solid examples that are not completely roached!

    Like 1
  5. Poppy

    Pity, I always liked these angular styled ones. I still prefer the first generation, but these are my 2nd favorite. RWD, Toyota power, and 5 speed stick, what’s not to love? Glad the seller offered it for a reasonable price. Hope the new owner can get it back on the road.

    Like 2
  6. SebastianX1/9

    My older sister had one of these and based on our family experience, I wouldn’t be surprised if the engine started on first try!

    Like 2
  7. AutoArcheologist AutoArcheologist Member

    Give me a weekend to clean it and get the ever reliable Toyota 22R back up and running and I’d be cruising around with her by Monday night.
    These are the kinds of cars that are oh so dangerous, that I try to not even look at. The idea of flipping it after that weekend would be strong.. but I end up keeping too many.. my wife and I are 9 now… never mind even the new garage won’t be big enough to fit anymore… I give it a thumbs up!

    Like 1
  8. Steve RM

    That 22R and especially the 22RE are great, tough little motors. I’ve had a couple. One in an 80 Celica GT that still ran great at 220,000 miles when the car was wrecked. I still have a 91 Toyota pickup with 213,000 miles on it that still runs great. Then 22RE is very powerful.

    • Patrick M Anderson

      I have an ’87 PU. About the same mileage, with a replacement shortblock. I bought it new, sold it to my sister and she overheated it. I bought it from her. It’s been sitting for a while. Seriously thinking about doing a VW 1.9 turbodiesel swap.

      Like 1

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