Forgotten Project: 1977 Toyota Celica GT

The first-generation Toyota Celica is one of the more sought-after Japanese cars, with recent auction sales pointing to the fact that collectors aren’t being shy about plunking down some very real cash to own one of the best. Similarly, restoration shops specializing in this era of Toyota are grabbing every garage and yard-find they can get their hands on, so supply is definitely decreasing. The seller of this 1977 GT claims to have owned it for many years and is ready to move it onto a new home after performing an engine swap years ago and then losing interest in the project. It’s listed here on craigslist in San Diego, California (but is parked at the seller’s property in Oregon) for $16,000.

This is a very interesting specimen as it relates to assessing value. On the one hand, it’s a clean, presumably rust-free California car that looks like a survivor in every sense of the word. The interior is in great shape too, and this is one of the more vulnerable areas on a long-forgotten Celica of this generation. The bodywork appears straight but is by no means pristine; the paintwork is dull and the bumpers appear to be missing their ends. Still, as a foundation, this Celica looks quite worthy of restoration, and even with the swapped drivetrain, the rest of the car’s stock appearances will help purists feel better about a potential purchase. The seller notes the interior electrical accessories need to be hooked up with a new wiring harness.

The engine is a later 6MGE inline-six with fuel injection, which is a pretty significant departure from the original engine. The newer mill is hooked up to a later W58 gearbox. This is a very cool setup, and while it’s not original, at least the seller kept in the Toyota family. Heck, if you wanted to go back to the original setup, a good W58 transmission will net you some very fair money as well a healthy 6MGE. But seeing the later engine looking like it was always meant to be there would make it hard for me to want to swap it back; however, it’s nice to know you’ll be able to find a buyer for the current setup if you wish to return it to bone stock condition. Even better news? The seller claims it fired right up after sitting for a decade.

As you can see, the bodywork is so-so. But as long as it’s largely rust-free, the rest of it is easy in comparison. The seller claims the Celica runs and sounds great, and that any potential sale will come with a variety of good spares. He doesn’t go into detail, but it sounds like a mixture of good used parts and leftover components from the engine swap. This is a car I would leave intact aside from cleaning up the cosmetics, as the engine swap is at least a Toyota mill and the W58 transmission will make for a pleasant dance partner when it comes time to hustle that torquey inline-six. While the asking price is still a touch ambitious, the market is still promising with lots of upside on this generation of Celica.


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  1. alphasud Member

    While I think these are cool cars I think the asking price is way out of line. It’s hard to put a accurate number on this and I’m not sure interior parts can be had to restore it correctly. The later inline 6 would make this a good runner but again might also hurt resale. What’s a fair price 6-8K?

    Like 14
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Agree. Nothing I see is worth more than 6-8K with the amount of work needed to put it back together.

    Like 11
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      Agree, this is nothing close to a five-figure car in its current state. Are those bullet holes or hammer marks on the trunk lid?

  3. mike b

    Is he testing the waters to see how many notice inconsistencies in the add?

    Like 3
  4. joenywf64

    Looking at
    could there be an issue with a possible open flame from a hot water heater & gasoline fumes from say a ’60s or older car inside WITHOUT a evap recovery system?

    Like 1
  5. Motorcityman Member

    Needs a larger shifter. 😄
    And yes, way to much in that condition in the current market.

    Like 4
    • douglas hunt

      What is the deal
      Is that just the way that trans shifter is ?

      • Motorcityman Member

        Not sure, but doesn’t look right to me.

  6. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Is this an example of Southern Cal markup?
    Is the seller a dreamer?
    Probably a crazy combination of both.

    Like 2
  7. chrlsful

    we got same 1in the backada shop, no 6MGE motor either. A tecoma w/ turbo’n intercooler. Has 700 HP +, a parachute & near 9 sec 1320. May B nines nxt yr? If not- for sale w/a 30 ft race trailer nxt fall (Oct ’22) less than 30K$ (may B the haul trk too).

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