Rare Targa: 1980 Toyota Celica Sunchaser

The Sunchaser was a limited-run conversion of a 1979-81 Toyota Celica coupe into a Targa-style convertible with a removable roof. The work was outsourced by Toyota rather than done in-house and estimates are that about 2,000 of these cars were built. This 1980 edition, in York Pennsylvania, looks to be in really solid condition and is being offered by a dealer here on craigslist for $12,900.

Toyota contracted with The Griffith Company to do the work. They started by cutting off the roof of a Celica GT or ST right behind the windshield to the edge of the B-Pillar to handle a Targa-style replacement. They also removed the roof from behind the B-Pillar to the trunk to build in a collapsible convertible compartment. When all that labor was done, all that remained of the original roof was a roll bar. Each converted Celica is supposed to have a sticker inside the glove compartment that verifies the work and the car’s production number. In the case of the seller’s car, this is not mentioned.

This ’80 Sunchaser looks to be in great shape with about 80,000 miles on the odometer. It’s equipped with the 20R engine, which was a two-valve, SOHC 2.2-liter inline-4 that produced 97 hp at 4,800 rpm. It’s paired with a 5-manual transmission. Because a dealer is involved, no history of this car is provided. Given the condition of the body, paint, and interior, we’re guessing it spent a fair amount of time in the garage, at least in more recent years. Other than either cleaning or dyeing the carpeting, there doesn’t appear to be anything to fault on this car.

The quality of Toyota products was becoming a thorn in the side of U.S.-domestic car manufacturers at this point. I had a 1977 Corolla for a few years and even though it was a basic little automobile, it was put together well and gave me no trouble. Cars like this caused the Big Three to step up their game by the 1990s. As we know, many 1980s U.S.-built cars are rather forgettable.


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  1. rextreme Member

    $14k out the door – no thank you!

    Like 12
  2. Stan

    Love seeing the old japanese cars at the autoshows.

    Like 1
  3. Terrry

    That car has detailing in the inside and the outside..an overdose of clear lacquer and Armor All. Typical of a dealer hooptie.

    Like 1
  4. Claudio

    It only takes a few minutes to spray the instant glossy stuff but it takes hours to detail, guess what this guy chose !

    Nice and rare sunchaser

    Like 3
  5. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. Although I don’t know anyone who’s owned a Celica Sunchaser, I have seen one or two near where I live. I’d prefer a Targa, with a roll cage, than a convertible without a roll cage. I’ve always loved the 1980 and 81 Celica.

    Like 2
    • douglas hunt

      My first car was a 71 Celica ST….while i never bought a sunchaser i did see one around my little town, but what caught my eye was a silver 81 Supra on the biggest Chevy dealer in town’s used car lot
      I made a bee line to that lot as soon as i got off work, but walked away because it was an automatic, i had thought it was meant to be too…………

  6. Neil

    The most important thing about this car? The convertible aspect of it. Yet, the seller sees no need to show any pics of it ” topless”. Odd choice in advertising. .

    Like 1
  7. Car Nut Tacoma

    I only wish more pictures were posted, with the top down as well.

    Like 1
  8. Stevieg Member

    I just missed out on one of these this last September. It was every bit as clean as this one, had low miles (I don’t recall exactly what they were, but it was under 100,000), silver with blue plaid cloth interior, and a 5 speed manual transmission. I missed it by about 20 min. I was really bummed over it selling to someone else. The owner/seller was asking $4,500.

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