Japanese Mustang? 1977 Toyota Celica GT

Having owned a rear-wheel-drive Toyota Celica for many years, I’d have to say it was one of my favorite rides. I had a front-wheel driver too but that one was more forgettable. Nevertheless, when I get a chance to review a first-gen Celica, like this 1977 GT liftback example, I’m going to look it over. This sharp-looking Toyota is located in Anaheim, California and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $7,100 with fifteen bids tendered so far.

Interestingly, a 44-year-old Toyota may not be what one considers to be the stock-in-trade at Barn Finds, say, in the way that a 44-year-old Camaro or Mustang would be. But the fact of the matter is that I’m surprised at the number of Celicas that have been covered here in the past two years alone. Where I’m not surprised is that the bulk of that coverage has been devoted to RWD versions (1971-1985).

It is claimed that this Celica has experienced only 35K miles of use but there is no concurring documentation and that mileage claim seems unlikely. No doubt about it, this Celica shows well, but not 35K miles of well. The finish still has depth but, as the seller mentions, “rust is evident in a few places“. The chrome, trim – black plastic and otherwise, and aftermarket wheels present quite well. These were nicely styled cars and there is no mistaking the Mustangesque rear valance and taillight treatment.

Get a load of those seats! They are impressive looking but are not the born-with pieces – the seller has the originals if they are so desired by the next owner. The remainder of the interior is typical for a Japanese coupe of this era. It’s in nice shape though the driver’s side carpet is worn through and the passenger side carpet trim plate is missing. Not surprising to find is the non-OEM radio.

Power is provided by a 117 HP, “18R”, 2.0 liter in-line, four-cylinder engine connected to a five-speed manual. The engine, with its MSD ignition, new battery, fuel pump, and radiator, is said to be, “in good repair and drives decently“. It is also said that the carburetor needs some assistance as the engine’s idling isn’t as it should be.

Suppose the mileage of this car is actually 135K instead of 35K. If so, it won’t have much of an impact on this Celica’s powertrain performance, assuming that everything has been maintained and not abused. These are high mileage designs and coaxing more use from the sporty Toyota shouldn’t be an issue. It is said the registration is out of date, so if this Toyota has been sitting for any length of time, additional maintenance may be necessary. OK, so this car is not a Camaro Z28 or a Mustang GT, but if you’re looking for a more generic version of either, this Celica GT may be a nice alternative.

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Comments

  1. Mike

    Wrong engine the 77 Celicas had the 20R 2.2 liter 4 cylinder. Great engine very reliable but a bit of a gas hog

    Like 5
  2. Mike K

    I always loved the look of these, but I never would buy a Japanese car back then. This is a beauty though and you don’t see them anymore.

    Like 8
  3. JCA Member

    Interesting…Not the stock rear bumper but I like the replacement. Looks like a repaint, de-badged and de-striped so wonder about the prep with that rust popping through

    Like 5
  4. Stephen Miklos

    I knew someone growing up had this type of Toyota. He put a different intake with Weber carb. And install headers and nice flowing exhaust. Twin chrome tip out back sounded really cool. And different camshaft. Nice aftermarket rims and wide tires. That car really moved. As for the mileage on this one. It turned over just look at the pictures. Good luck to the next owner. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 5
  5. Chris In Australia

    Corona in a party frock. Hard pass from me.

    Like 1
  6. Steve Clinton

    For a country that had a reputation for building well-built cars that lasted, you sure don’t see many of these anymore.

    Like 4
  7. Chuck Simons

    I had a light blue one loved it

    Like 1
  8. David

    This would be a fun car to squeeze every bit of horsepower from.

    Like 1
  9. Don

    I had one of these in ’77’ when I first got married. It was yellow and we loved it. We drove it from PA to FL on our honeymoon and we got 25mpg. That wasn’t great for now, but back then it was pretty good. Of course the gas wasn’t $4.00 a gallon. It looks like the gas cylinders on the lift gate still work. I carried a 2×4 for mine.

    Like 1
  10. Motto

    My first car was a 76 Celica GT 5 speed that I purchased in 1980, with about 65k miles. The car had a ripped driver seat, leaky hatch, had to replace the alternator, clutch and some switch that made the headlights work and it started to rust. Only could afford it for a year and got rid of it. Drove nice, and could get 36mpg on the highway, but it was far from a good car. Toyota has come a long way.

    Like 1
  11. douglas hunt

    my first car was a 71 Celica ST
    these came out with much more appeal
    but i loved mine, lots of great memories

  12. JBD

    Blatant attempt to copy a ‘69 mach 1 Mustang. Copywrite/patent lawyers should have sued and won millions from Toyota. US patents have meant nothing to Asian countries.

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