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Turbocharged RA42: 1980 Toyota Celica ST

This 1980 Toyota Celica ST is an interesting specimen, and it checks a few different boxes if you’re looking for a classic Japanese coupe that you can drive every day. It’s a mix of low-mileage, survivor-like features along with some modifications that should make this rear-wheel-drive a blast to drive every day. The car was recently resprayed and updated with a set of modern wheels, and a previous owner also added a turbocharger to the stock 20R four-cylinder engine. It hasn’t been driven much, so the seller can’t attest to how it will do sitting in traffic all day, but it looks clean enough to find out. Check out the Celica here on eBay where bidding is just over $4,000 with the reserve unmet.

These early Toyotas were very pretty cars. There’s a reason why Toyota fans often go to extremes trying to drag them out of barns and junkyards, much like fans of early VW Buses – these were the cars that put Toyota on the map, and in some ways, serve as reminders to how sporting the company’s lineup used to be. Throw in RWD and it looks like a totally different company compared to today. The only real disappointment was that the enormously reliable 22R engine was decidedly un-sexy, but it sure was hard to kill. A previous owner has done his best to correct this one gripe by adding what sounds like a comprehensive turbo kit.

Like many older vehicles, the seller can’t confirm the mileage, but he feels that the condition of the interior should offer some assurances that the 59,798 miles on the clock is genuine. Of course, I wouldn’t lodge a bid based on that assumption, but just focus on the fact that you have a clean interior to sit in while you see how long the 22R lasts under questionable amounts of boost. The seller reports that the ownership history shows an extended period with one family and passed down to different members, ending up with the presumed young’un who bolted the turbo kit and aftermarket wheels onto a car that was likely a very honest survivor until that point.

The engine bay looks clean, especially for a modified car, and the seller provides some insights that indicate the install was done to a high level with the kinds of parts that indicate at least some attention to detail. And there are some details that suggest this turbo install wasn’t just thrown together, such as the air/fuel gauges tucked neatly into where the tape deck used to be. The Celica has seen little road time since the engine was upgraded, so you’ll likely need to get a tune before too long. The good news is it passed Massachusetts’ stringent annual inspection, so it has to be at least somewhat healthy. Would you drive a modified classic like this?


  1. alphasud Member

    That’s an awfully large snail for that engine. Not knowing what mods were done to that engine I would want to keep the boost limited by unless you want to test the Big Bang theory. The intercooler is a nice touch but with a blow through application it’s not as critical as standard port injection. Looks to be in nice shape. I think about my math teacher in HS whenever I see this body style. She drove a dull gray one and the car was a good match for her frugal personality.

    Like 7
  2. Rw

    Kinda like people used to put a tunnel ram with 2- 750 double pumpers on a 307 Nova. Poop pop

    Like 5
  3. Wayne

    I had a black one like this while working at a Toyota store. All stock running gear but with Euro spec Supra sway bars and springs. (Yes I had to cut the fronts down) And a full set up of Bilstein shocks and struts. It handled great with some upgraded wheels and tires. Unfortunately, the power train (stock engine with a 5 speed gearbox) did not live up to the suspension. The car was loaded with every option available from the factory. Sun roof, tape player, graphic equalizer, A/C, etc. I always played with the idea of installing a SBF and did all the measurements to verify that it would fit. I just never got around to it. I should have never sold that one!

    Like 5
  4. Wayne

    If you are going to the trouble of turboing one of these. Take a 22RE out of a pickup and do that. Much easier to dial in with fuel injection. This one appears to need some sorting out yet. What? can’t figure out where to hook up the PCV valve? Just run it with a hole in the valve cover?

    Like 5
  5. Russell

    Turbo and rear wheel drive … I see drifting in its future

    Like 2
  6. ChiTownJeff

    I don’t like the look of the missing front bumper.

    Like 4
    • Dan Mar

      I agree with that, but the original bumper that came with it in the US was ridiculous. I would try and get ahold of a Japanese or South American one, failing that I would make one fit from something else.

      Like 0
    • JudoJohn

      My thoughts, too. It makes it look too home made.

      Like 1
  7. Dan Mar

    The most reliable car I ever owned was a 1980 Toyota Carona. It was mostly because of the 20R engine in it. 198,000 mi on it and Never had a problem with it.

    Like 1
  8. Mountainwoodie

    You dont see many of these around any more. Nice looking little car.

    Like 1

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