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Never Seen One: ’81 Celica 10th Anniversary


While manufacturers churn out endless variants of otherwise ordinary cars on a regular basis, there was a time when “limited edition” truly meant limited edition. Take this 1981 Toyota Celica GTA coupe here on eBay, which is a special 10th Anniversary model sold here and in Canada: they only made about 5,000 of these for the U.S. market, and I doubt very many survive today. Have you ever seen one before? 


Not only were they truly limited in production, these Celicas actually packed some good options for the money: you got the full Supra interior treatment; alloy wheels and sound system from the more upscale Cressida; power options; a Japanese-market only “ST” model grill treatment; and some additional cosmetic enhancements to set it apart from other models. That represents some actual value for whatever cost premium Toyota added to the base price.


And, of course, you got Toyota’s venerable 22R motor bolted to an automatic transmission. Not fast or exotic, but definitely dependable. This example has only 107,000 miles from new, which is practically nothing for this workhorse of an engine. The seller claims it runs out very well and is a genuine two-owner car that was last registered in 1983. He’s already added new tires, a fuel pump, water pump and new exhaust, and claims rust is minimal.


While an automatic transmission isn’t the most desirable option for a Celica, I could envision this car simply lowered on some updated wheels and tires – maybe painted gold? – and then have the paint buffed out, leaving the rest alone. This is a solid cruiser that would likely catch the eye of in-the-know Toyota enthusiasts, and while it likely will never be hugely valuable, it will be welcomed at vintage Asian car events across the country. FYI, the opening bid is only $1,000 and there’s no reserve.


  1. MikeG

    My Dad bought my Mom this car brand new in 1981. It was really a very good car, (excellent sound system), fairly quick running 1st thru drive with the auto shifters. Never really had any issues. It was in perfect condition when she parked it, until her idiot husband parked it on the grass for a decade and the floor pans rotted out. It’s still sitting there.

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    • Steve

      Im not sure i folow you. You say your dad bought this car for your mom. I assume you mean one like it (?) Then later say her idiot husband left it to rot. Therefore your dad is an idiot (?) perhaps there was a divorce and it was her second husband?

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      • MikeG

        Ha! Yes her second husband & yes, he is an idiot.

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  2. Tenspeed

    I owned a 1981 Celica ST in that same color except it had a 5 speed. It was a great car.

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    • Ron

      I know it’s years later but I owned one Cherry Red 5 stick. Bought it in Manchester CT. It was a bad ass car. For some reason today I was thinking about it and came across this thread

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  3. Moparman Elliott Member

    The right side of the dash pod really looks cluttered to me. Was that the stock configuration, or was this the result of all the add-ons (factory and/or owner??)

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  4. Jubjub

    These were so great looking when new or gently used but time and elements really took their toll on them. All luster was lost and the plastics dried out and faded Into about a million different colors.
    Remember hearing a Celica just like this but in much better, pre-deteriorated shape, years ago, cold start and run at full throttle for longer than you’d think was possible.
    I later bought an ’80 Corolla SR5 for $25 said to have the same problem. It ended up being a piece of the carb to breather gasket sucked in and getting wedged in the butterfly. Figured that’s probably what I heard happening to that Celica.

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  5. Burleigh King

    My mom went in to get a gas cap for our tercel an came home with the Celica loved that car

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  6. james minnis

    My name is james minnis and i have a 181 toyota celica gt i have had since Jun 1983 and i am trying to fix it up. it onle has 83000 miles on it. i do not want to sell it i just want to order parts for it. I live in fayetteville nc

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