Running When Parked: 1980 Toyota Celica Sunchaser

Ah, the classic “running when parked.” I love this description, as it means so little yet inspires much hope among enthusiasts passionate about a certain car. For example, if you’ve been hunting for a rare Toyota Celica Sunchaser convertible, you might consider this example despite its extended hiatus from anything resembling two-lane pavement. Will it run again? You be the judge. This Sunchaser is listed here on eBay with two bids and the reserve unmet. 

To be fair, I’ve now purchased two vehicles in the “running when parked” category and they both did run again. Not without a fair amount of investment, mind you, but run they did. And to be honest, this Celica is equipped with the venerable 22R motor, which is right up there with the Jeep 4.0 I6 as an engine with a legendary reputation for durability. As we can see by these photos, the Celica has been stationary for a while but it sports some sweet OEM Supra wheels. There were about 600 of these Sunchasers made, converted by a company called Griffith.

The Sunchaser presents fairly well from the outside, with the yellow paint maintaining the faintest resemblance of luster. Inside, a fun-sapping automatic resides in the center console but all else looks as nature intended it, with a sporty three-spoke steering wheel, bucket seats and lots of gauges. The door panels look decent and uncut (at least the one we can see) and really, the cockpit just looks like it needs a cleaning to shine again. Hopefully, the targa roof has stayed in place long enough to keep the interior dry while in storage.

Like any other Celica, a manual transmission was standard, so it’s a bummer not to see one here. Similar to the US Grand Prix edition cars, this special edition Toyota isn’t particularly valuable despite being one of about 600 made. Still, if the body is rust-free and the paint will come back with a buff, there could be lots of miles left in this Sunchaser with the stout Toyota mechanicals underneath. This is car number 359 and it’s located in Alpharetta, Georgia.


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  1. Classic Steel

    Looks good on body but why leave an old mattress and back wheels off?

    Is it a staging momment?

    Seriously take crap off when you try to sell to show the car…

    Looks possibly good but who knows!

    • Metoo

      Maybe some sellers think piling stuff on it makes a vehicle look more “barny”.

    • jdjonesdr

      That’s not a mattress, it looks like a cut off roof of a IH truck cab.

  2. Doug

    There’s one of these advertised on Craigslist in Central FL occasionally. I believe it’s located in Titusville, FL. (Where the rocket went off from today!).
    I think it’s a running driving one.

  3. dgrass

    Oof dah, that is a lot of moisture damage to the seats. Expect to replace most of the interior on this one including the carpets, seats, door cards, and rear top as the mildew and mold have overtaken the car.

    • Sanity Factor

      Dont say “door cards”…this is the USA…we say “door panels”…cards are for cheap uppity british types..

      • Brakeservo

        “Door cards” in America is a silly and pretentious affectation typically seen by the arrogant dweebs at Bring-A-Taco or Bring-A-Tampon or whatever that other auction site is called.

  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    Come on…auto, manual…what’s the difference with this car? Or for that matter any old 4-banger? Who would buy a Sunchaser so they could try and peel out or do stoplight drag racing? Too much fixating on the transmissions in my opinion. Just like exhaust notes….who cares? I like a quiet exhaust thank you very much…I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone, least of all by how loud my muffler is.

  5. Brakeservo

    This “company called Griffith” you refer to also built the Griffith 200 and in 1965 it was not only faster and quicker than Carroll Shelby’s Cobra, it was generally acknowledged as “The World’s Fastest production car” – 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds and 165 mph top speed! Looking at this Sunchaser, who woulda guessed??

  6. Steve R

    It’s worth a shot if it can be bought at the same price as a parts car.

    Steve R

  7. XMA0891

    Until this post I was not aware that The Griffith Company converted Toyotas. Knew about the company’s conversions of AMCs. They still around?

    • Bring-A-Taco

      Mike Mooney of North Carolina owns the Griffith name and certain intellectual properties. He is a source of parts for the Griffith 200 and Griffith 400 cars and I think will be reproducing whole “200” series cars. I have no idea if he has any interest in the Toyotas and others that Jack Griffith took a can opener to.

  8. C.Jay

    Ran when parked. Looked great when new. And. She’s pretty with the lights off (or after a six pack). All things that are said when there are really no redeeming qualities.

  9. Country Joe

    I know where one of these is sitting in the weeds with the top missing. I’ve considered trying to find out who owns it, but by this point it’s probably not going to even make parts car status.

  10. Gay Car Nut

    I remember when the Toyota Celica looked like this. My favourite years for this generation Celica are 1980 and 1981. Although not many were sold, I’ve seen a few Sunchaser convertibles. They were the ultimate Celica.

    • bob

      just bought a chaser, have an 80 celica with 400k on it and then I saw this blue chaser and fell in love again!

  11. Wrong Way

    It’s all I can do to keep from bidding on this little Sun Chaser! What a awesome find!

  12. Troy

    I have a fiberglass top for a Toyota sunchaser. If anybody is interested.

  13. chad

    came as targa or not (full ‘vertable?)?
    Were both offered or just “targa”?

  14. Rich

    Im ready to purchase

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