Parked and Forgotten: 1976 Toyota Celica GT Liftback

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Sitting behind some oil drums and other jobsite equipment is this dusty 1976 Toyota Celica GT liftback, complete with the desirable 5-speed manual transmission. Many of these vintage Japanese hatchbacks have rusted away, but years of Idaho farm dust has helped keep this one intact. The listing appears on the Nevada craigslist but the seller says it’s still in Idaho; you’ll find it here on craigslist with a $5,800 asking price. 

The ugly U.S. bumpers are the worst feature of this Celica, but fortunately, the list of negatives ends there. It does look quite solid up and down the sides, with none of that pesky sill rot or rust in the lower arches. The OEM steel wheels are a good look, and retain their factory centercaps. The seller claims there is just one small surface rust spot to note.

The interior seems to validate the claims of sound condition, as it does look like the Celica was parked with no major damage or modifications to report. The interior presents well and the seller claims they haven’t properly cleaned it yet. Many of these were optioned with automatic, so it’s good to see three pedals and what looks like an original radio still present.

The 20R motor is like other legendary engines, such as Jeep’s 4.0L inline-six. It has a reputation for being fairly bulletproof and certainly cheap to maintain or even replace, as it was used in everything from Celicas like this to the classic Toyota truck. The seller doesn’t specify if it runs, but does note it was parked in the barn under its own power. These cars will never be out of reach price-wise for most of us, but they are starting to find deeper appreciation among enthusiasts and collectors.

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  1. stillrunners

    Cool car…..and nice it was put back.

    Like 4
    • Tom

      How about the vintage Craftsmen tablesaw.

      Like 6
      • Andy Tanner

        ha, yeah I want both!

        Like 1
  2. Mike

    Looking at the steering column near the ignition cylinder it appears to be broken…..possibly a stolen/recovery?

    Like 4
  3. Steve

    I bought some property in 1997 and the previous owner left a car like this. Body was solid, poor repaint but was red originally, judging by the jambs, but interior was shot. It ran and drove good though. 20r engine and five speed trans. I didnt have a title but ocassionally drove it around my pasture, unsure if what to do with it. Fast forward a few years. My dad was a welder and was working near Caldwell Tx. I went to visit as he was working long hours and appreciated the company. One evening after he was off work, we went riding around in the country looking for old cars trucks and tractors. I came across another red one! It still had the factory white stripes. 20r and five speed as well. No dents and only one rust hole the size of your little finger at the bottom of the rear window. It was sitting in a guys yard out in the country. Still wearing its original red paint. No “For Sale” sign on it but i stopped and asked. He said $500 would buy it, but that the front end was “shot” from the rough gravel roads in the area. I returned a few days later with the cash. The tags were still current, so i drove it to where my dad was staying. It had a mind if its ownall right! Pretty much everything was worn out in the front end. I towed it home to Leander and quickly I figured out that i could swap the whole front suspension out of the other car with no title with only 6-8 bolts, so i did! The donor also had better tires on newer celica aluminum wheels, so those got swapped too. I started driving it to work and was impressed by the pep and handling. It really was like a mini 69-70 Mustang. The water pump went out and i replaced it but decided i didnt need another car to work on. (I already had three). I hadnt put it up for sale yet but was filling up with gas one day and a guy there asked me if it was for sale and I said “sure!” I gave him what i thought was a ridiculous price ($3k) only to have him ask when we could donthe deal (!) i also sold him the parts car for another $500. I thought i struck it rich, and I guess i did ok, since i was an apprentice electrician making $10-12/ hr. but wish I still had both! Im sure i could have gotten three times that!

    Like 23
  4. Superdessucke

    “We havent cleaned the inside out yet but, we will.”

    I love the comma in this sentence. It makes the anticipated interior cleaning seem dramatic, like something to really look forward to. I certainly am. I hope that they don’t sell it before they post pictures of the clean interior. I bet it’ll look great!

    Like 12
  5. Mountainwoodie

    I believe it has the oh so rare ‘tweety bird’ steering wheel cover. Add another hundred bucks.

    Like 3
  6. moose_feather

    What other car was accused of emulating two major manufacturers at the same time? First known as the Little Camaro then the Little Mustang when this hatchback (liftback) version came out. Interesting to hear who liked what version better. I liked them both, but the Little Camaro was one of my fav’s.

    Like 2
  7. PDXBryan

    This looks pretty identical to the ’77 I had back in the 80s. My folks agreed to loan me $ for a car so I could get to work while far away in college. I had $3K to work with, was tempted by a GS Buick and an S class Mercedes but good luck and common sense prevailed and I ended up with a sweet beige liftback. It was an excellent, reliable, and relatively sporty ride that took me all over Texas and finally up to Alaska. My only slightly negative memory was that all the controls were on the heavy side. Steering, shifter, window cranks, everything took a little muscle but all in all a great car that was fun to drive, carried a lot, looked great, and got good mpg.

    Like 4
  8. grant

    Interesting factoid about these, if the bolt holding the distributor decides to strip, and the timing is walking around when you are 80 miles from home; you can pull a body screw from the sill trim and it will screw perfectly between the body of the distributor and the lump of metal on the engine block next to it, working so well that you forget about it and drive the car for the next two years before you retap the bolt hole.

    Like 12
    • Miguel

      I would ask how a bolt that never moves gets stripped.

      Like 2
  9. Terry Bowman

    I had a 77′ lift back and added the “Tiger” option spoilers. It was an automatic, but also which I don’t see here is “ESP”, which is the first I have seen from any auto makers, sensors that would let you know if you needed any fluids or brakes. Only problem I had in the 8 years I owned it was the AC. It was also red. Sold it because my family was growing and bought a 5th Av. in 86′. Another “COOL” car and another story.

    Like 1
  10. Miguel

    This price seems really high for a car that hasn’t moved in years. A lot of work will have to be done to get it back on the road.

    Like 2
  11. Tricky

    Collectors car over here in Oz, demanding fairly high prices – upwards of AUD$15,000 (which is around USD$2.85) for a good one. A lot of them get re-engined with the 1UZFE V8 as a restomod.

    Like 0

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