Japanese Camaro: Rusty 1972 Toyota Celica

This 1972 Toyota Celica is said to be a recent barn find discovery, and an even coating of faded paint and dirt seem to point to many years of inactivity. As an earlier example, this Celica sports the prettier chrome bumpers that are nicely integrated into the body, unlike the ghastly DOT-mandated park benches that came later. Find this example here on craigslist with a $3,999 or best offer asking price. 

Still sporting its old-school Oregon blue plates and a vintage dealership license plate frame, this Celica looks every bit as untouched as the seller purports it to be. Unfortunately, that also includes a fair amount of rust which is listed as the solitary “Cons” in the listing. In the photos, the cabin floors and trunk are all in need of replacement, along with a complete interior. The body appears surprisingly straight in photos despite the rust underneath.

The interior retains many desirable and rare pieces, from the wooden shift knob, console clock, an uncracked dash pad and wood-rimmed steering wheel. Despite the carpet being destroyed and the seats in need of total rebuilding, the interior trim doesn’t appear past the point of rescue. I suspect the interior is partly why the seller makes it quite clear he is not parting this Celica out, as there are likely many owners who are in need of the bits captured in these photos.

The first-generation Celica was intended to entice U.S. customers smitten by the first-generation Mustang introduced a few years earlier. The SOHC 18R-C four cylinder may not have been very persuasive, with less than 100 b.h.p. under the hood. However, it is paired with the desirable manual transmission, which will make it a touch more invigorating if this rusty specimen returns to the road. You’ll find it in Modesto, California, but don’t ask about a part out.

Fast Finds


  1. Luke Fitzgerald

    One of the best looking cars – period. When you look at one closely, you can see where the japs pinched every idea they saw. Once they start rusting tho’, they don’t stop

    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      “One of the best looking cars – period.”

      Somewhere there is a DeTomaso Mangusta giving you the side eye right now

  2. jaymes

    so sad to see it get to this, hopefully someone will save it

  3. Howard A Member

    One of my favorite Toyotas. I don’t recall it being called the “Asian Camaro” tho. Proof positive, people from California have no idea what “rusted out” means. Heck, this would be a clean, one owner in Wisconsin. I can’t even find a decent one for sale, so that tells you something. This is probably the best 1st gen Celica in existence.

    • Adam

      My very first car. Would bark the tires in 3rd. It was a fun little thing. Interestingly, its name was Rusty.

    • C Carl

      I remember Celica fast backs being called 3/4 scale Torino’s.

  4. Dave Wright

    I thought they were made of recycled beer cans……..it is just going to revert to its former state.

  5. Rabbit

    I about spewed my drink when I read “DOT-mandated park benches”. That aside, here in the salt belt, this car would be a real find, as Howard said. If it were cheaper, it’d be a neat little project.

  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    These were almost identical twins to the offerings from a year earlier. The first ones had the 8RC motor which was shared with the Corona, and the HiLux pickup. I had an acquaintance who had a ’71 Celica and he had similar troubles with his engine: detonation, rough idle, almost impossible to start in cold temperatures. At least his heater worked–for a spell. He got his car for a high school graduation present and another kid got a ’71 Challenger RT. The Challenger kid was spinning circles out in the intersection of the highway when the other kid in the Celica came flying low around the corner. He hit the right rear wheel of the Challenger squarely and sent the Challenger in the other direction. I’ll always remember the wheel imprint on the Celica’s grill. Two cars totaled with less than 5K miles on them…

  7. Rob Rose

    But will he sell parts off it?


  8. Coventrycat

    Mullets know no boundries.

  9. 408interceptor

    Check out this 77 Star Wars edition Celica.

    • Howard A Member

      There’s a car in this photo? Oh yeah, there it is. :)

  10. Loco Mikado

    They go fast if you drive them so. A friend of mine had one and it was fast enough. No, not as fast as another friends ’67 475hp Corvette that I rode in and drove a lot. But on a twisty road it would eat the Vette.

  11. Fran

    I agree the coupe version looks like a Camargo but the fastback version looks more like the mustang.

  12. Mike

    The fastback toy looks like a mustang.

  13. Brakeservo

    At least the seller is (perhaps unintentionally) being honest when he says “It will not last long” given the advanced state of decay and it’s likely progression.

    • Howard A Member

      Ha, Brakeservo, that always gives me a chuckle, as well. I believe the wording should be “will sell quickly”, or “see that person? They’re coming to buy it right now”,,,,would be better.

  14. Jamey

    I can’t even think someone would want to restore one of those. I would like to see it take a vet anywhere. Sorry can’t see happening. The guy must not known how to drive sorry. But I do like different cars but I can’t see it. Y’all were hard on the guy who restored the Gremlin but think this would be cool. I don’t get but each to their own. But I’m the type that likes American cars so y’all that like foreign cars I’m sure y’all like this and by all means go for it. I always say the world would be a boring place if we all liked the same stuff.

  15. Mark

    I had the same year GT while at school in Utah in the mid-1980’s. Very fun little car to drive. A roommate had a 1978 hatchback. But liked mine more too. I can still remember the vinyl smell.

  16. Jubjub

    Always liked these but this one’s a real mess. Trendy pricing too!

  17. Chris In Australia

    Corona in a party dress. Pass.

  18. Mike Rallo

    I take exception to the Japanese Camaro. I’m sorry the Celica is no where near a Camaro.

  19. C Carl

    RIP the $500 car

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