Not Often Seen: 1975 Toyota Celica ST Coupe

There’s nothing like a snappy little sports car to run around in, and this 1975 Toyota Celica ST is just about as cool as they come.  A former California car now in Washington State (Lakewood, to be exact), this one features good looks, low miles, and some Grand Touring appointments like a half-vinyl-roof and luggage rack. If you’re keen, it’s available here on eBay with an early bid price just over $4000 but many more days left to go in the auction.

The Celica was produced from 1970 model year to 2006, and appeared in seven generations. In various years, it came in two-door coupe guise, liftback body style, or as a convertible. Until 1985, all Celicas were rear-wheel-drive. After that, they became front-drivers. There were also some four-wheel-drive models, believe it or not. The year of manufacture is important on this first-gen car, especially for anyone wanting to import it to a smog state. 1975 models still get a free pass, where a 1976 would not. So that saves the buyer a lot of time, potential bureaucratic hassle, and likely money.

How would it scoot? The 20R engine is a 2.2-liter, two-valve-per-cylinder engine used in Celicas from 1975-80. It wouldn’t have had quite 100 horsepower, but you don’t buy this car for the muscle. You get it for the handling and style in an era when the compact/sporty offerings from American manufacturers included the Chevy Vega or some iteration of a Ford Pinto or other. Oh, and let’s not forget the quality, which was sewing-machine precise on the Toyotas, and, well, not so much on domestics. Speaking of which, in case you have first-year blues about buying a car with engine design upgrades, as is the case with this mill, the 20R is said to have a number of quality improvements over previous engines in the Toyota R line. Speaking personally, I had a 1972 Celica GT back in college, and it had a transplanted 18R-C engine from, I think, a Toyota Corona. I never had a moment’s issues with it, and it was driven all over the US Northeast for years. Yeah, I wish I hadn’t sold it. This car might make a good replacement, though. It’ll be fun to see at what cost.

Any questions or doubts about this car should be solved with a look at the photos provided. It hardly needs pointing out that it is a garage queen. Everything looks tidy and original, as the 36,000 miles would indicate. High-backed bucket seats beckon, asking you to slide in, take a hold of the wheel, and fling this little coupe around some corners. And then the shocker, concealed until the final photo: this is not a stick-shift car, but an automatic. That stinks from an enthusiast’s point of view, but it’s not likely to hold the bidding back much because as popular as these cars were in their day, and as culty as they have become in more recent times, you almost never see one for sale.

Comments

  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    A half vinyl roof & an automatic – can it get any better than that?

    Like 9
    • Bick Banter

      Yes.

      Like 5
    • Chris

      Yes, no vinyl roof and manual.

      Like 7
  2. Big C

    Re: The quality of these cars compared to American cars of the era? How many of these do you see for sale, compared to Pinto’s and other American small cars?

    Like 7
  3. Greg B Greg B Member

    Survivor

    Like 2
  4. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking car! Although I was way too young to drive a car at the time, I remember cars like this generation Toyota Celica. My cousin had a 1977 Toyota Celica GT. Of all the Celica generations, this has always been my favourite.

    Like 2
  5. David Frank David Frank Member

    These seemed at the time like just another little Japanese car with a bit of almost sporty styling. They were much like the other rental cars of the day, slow merging onto freeways and slow up hills. It’s a cool little survivor, though!

  6. Wayne

    Granted the automatic is not ideal, although I had a ’71 Corona with the 18R and the automatic and it was the only 4 cylinder car I have ever driven that would actually chirp the tires going from 1st to 2nd. My absolute favorite body style for these cars, and the price is more than reasonable.

    Like 2
    • Chris

      There is no price yet. It’s an auction. As of right now, it’s up close to $7k. We’ll see how high it goes, but my guess is the bidding isn’t done.

      Like 1
      • Gary

        It will probably hit 9-11k I’d guess, you are not likely to find a nicer survivor than this one.

        Like 1
  7. chrlsful

    puta truboed tacoma motor in ours (had the car since ’95). Strip/st car. Fun lill buggy.

  8. douglas hunt

    I had a 71 STtI bought from my grandpa when I was a jr in high school.
    had the 8R/4speed. I was barely 16, I flipped a lot of Wendy burgers for that car, and then bagged groceries as a senior to pay for gas and ins.
    a hell of a lot of memories in that car
    he lived on a farm in the country [ no really ] but his neighbor was the bodyshop mgr at the Chevy dealer in our city [ Charleston WV ] and he bought a couple fixed up Toyotas from him.
    I got this one, and he had a 74 I think Corolla with the auto trans.So long ago I don’t remember where that one went

    • Gary

      Hey Doug, I’m from Sissonville WVa. I always like this generation Celica, nice lines and plenty of go.

      Like 2
      • douglas hunt

        the good ole days, mom and dad wouldn’t let me drive it to Stonewall Jackson till I was a senior.
        I thru some 4 lug aluminum slots on it, and off to Myrtle Beach me and my buddies went.
        It was 9 years old and didn’t miss a beat.
        I let a buddy drive it one weekend to go see a chick, late late in the night while we were hanging out at his house all night [ his parents out of town ] and he totaled it :-(

  9. Jetmex

    This was undoubtedly the worst car I ever owned in my 40 years of driving. I hated this car with a passion and was thrilled the day someone pulled out in front of me and totaled it. It used oil like mad and did not like to be driven in the rain. I found it years later and it was running around the junk yard and they said it was running fine.

  10. Patrick Anderson

    My uncle had one like this. Not sure which engine, 4 speed manual. I had a ;’76 Corolla hatchback. 2TC engine, auto trans. Something like 88 hp. No hot rod that car. But the engine was a Hemi! Both iof those cars were little jewels. Far better than anything built in the US at the time. Maybe still.

    Like 1
    • karl

      Build wise ? They sold millions of Toyotas in the U.S back in the 70s , but how many are left? The engines were reliable and durable, but they had cheesy plastic interiors and the bodies pretty much dissolved in water.

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