No Reserve: 1977 Toyota Celica GT Coupe

Though Toyota’s recent efforts at building sports cars tend to receive mixed reviews from enthusiasts, it’s undeniable that the brand’s older models have a rightful place in automotive history. This first-generation 1977 Toyota Celica GT is available here on eBay with no reserve and a clear title, making it a very solid starting point for a project.

This RA24 Celica found its way to Mount Pleasant, North Carolina, which certainly explains the period-correct front plate. Jokes aside, this coupe appears to be in fairly decent shape. Though it has sat since the mid-‘90s (the last inspection sticker reads 5/95), vehicles in southern states tend to have fewer rust issues than examples located further northeast, and this vehicle is certainly reflective of that.

Some rust has begun on the lower parts of the body, and also in areas around the window and windshield on the passenger side. The seller did not include any photos of this Celica’s undercarriage, but it seems to be a promising example of a vehicle that is usually plagued with rust issues.

While the cabin of this Celica is rough, it seems to be mostly intact and original. As expected, there is a cracked dashboard cover, tears in the seat upholstery, and plenty of dust and dirt. It wouldn’t have hurt to tidy the interior up before taking photos, but it still should clean up fairly nice.

The Celica’s 5-digit odometer reads 34,723 miles, but with just two claimed owners and the time it has spent sitting, this number could be the coupe’s true mileage.

Toyota’s venerable 20R 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine is under the hood of this last-year RA24. However, the advertisement notes that the engine had a leaking head gasket.

The powerplant made less than 100 horsepower in stock form, but offers surprising tuning potential, especially when using parts from the later manufactured 22R 4-cylinder, which has a larger displacement. However, the devil on my shoulder can’t help from suggesting a more modern engine swap, such as a 3S-GE 4-cylinder or a 1UZ-FE V8.

The seller of this example purchased it with intentions of restoring, and it’s clear that the engine, interior and body of this vehicle will all require an overhaul. Even though this Celica is in somewhat rough shape, the clean title and no reserve auction make it an appealing candidate for either a restoration a restomod.

However, regardless of what route the buyer of this Celica chooses: that luggage rack should be the first thing to go.

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  1. HoA Howard AMember

    I really liked the 1st gen Celicas, and I think these were the best of them. Sadly, this old gal been around the world a few times, at least they’re not claiming “34K original miles”, although, I suppose you could, why not? Does anybody know about parts for older Toyotas? Usually, I’ve found for Asian vehicles, parts can be a nightmare. I don’t know of many people that restore classic Asian cars,,,yet.

    Like 4
    • Gene Parmesan

      There is a large and growing restoration market in older Fairlady Z’s, 510s, Skylines, RX2s thru RX7s, Celicas, etc. Vintage Japanese stuff is really hot right now and clean examples are super hard to find.

      Think about it though: all these “rare” big block ‘Cudas and Chevelles cruising around, but when’s the last time you saw a nice RX2?

      Like 4
    • Cris

      Anybody seen that show JDM legends? Check it out

      Like 2
      • Gay Car Nut Tacoma

        That’s my favourite show to watch on Motor Trend TV. I’ve always loved old-school JDM Japanese cars. American market Japanese cars are okay, but JDM have more personality than what was sold here in the USA.

        Like 0
  2. j liu

    Anyone note the HD trailer hitch? Hmmm

    Like 3
  3. Chris In Australia

    Corona in a party frock. The 5mph bumpers don’t do this appliance any favours either.

    Like 2
  4. Tony Goodner

    My buddy had the targa top version in college. Fun car!

    Like 0
  5. edh

    Class 3 receiver!?

    Like 0
  6. Gay Car Nut Seattle

    I have to admit that I’m not impressed with Toyota’s current generation of Celica and Supra. I’m more old-school when it comes to Toyotas. I’d prefer a 1977 Toyota Celica, or a 1980 Celica Supra. Those are the cars I remember from when I was a boy.

    Like 3
  7. RandeBell

    Chris in Australia, up here in the States, we don’t look upon Celicas of this generation as erzatz Coronas, having driven both. They’re regarded more as Japanese Ford Capris or Opel Mantas, in other words, fun cars. This one is a bit of a tart, with all the junk added to it by a profit-seeking dealer with no style sense(witness the tacky half vinyl roof and aftermarket side mouldings), but it should clean up nicely once the cylinder head problem is resolved. This is the best model year of the 1971-77 Celica range, I think.

    Like 2
  8. Mayor

    “but when’s the last time you saw a nice RX2?”
    For me, the last time I walked into my garage.

    Like 2
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      This is another car that I remember from my childhood. I used to know someone who had a Mazda RX2 powered by the Rotary Wanker (laughs) engine. I thought it was Mazda’s best looking car until the RX7.

      Like 0
  9. John C.

    These old toyotas have a big following! Worldwide. There is a company in Philly that has new, used and repro parts for them. If you are looking for a car to redo for a reasonable sum just to have something decent to drive to a car show Toyota is the way to go. not to mention their reliability.

    Like 0
  10. Dianna Devery

    Is this car still available? Does anyone know where to buy one refurbished – this was my first car and would like to gift myself the exact same one for my 50th bday!!

    Like 0

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