Untouched Survivor: 1972 Toyota Celica

Clean Japanese tin from the 1970s is hard to find in anything but rotten condition, or otherwise long since sent to the scrapyard in the sky. Unless, of course, you live in California where these cars seemingly still roam coastal highways. This 1972 Toyota Celica is a tatty-but-honest example that runs and drives and comes with a clean, clear title. Find it here on craigslist for$5,999 OBO or go here if the ad gets pulled.

The Celica is far from perfect but it is still quite nice for being a stock driver. The body shows its share of bruises and parking lot dents but nothing serious. There is some rust on the roof from a now-departed vinyl covering; there are some holes in places as a result. Whether those perforations have resulted in water/moisture entering the cabin isn’t disclosed, but would certainly warrant closer inspection. Lenses and glass look good, as does the chrome bumper.

The cabin doesn’t show the tell-tale signs of long periods of moisture exposure. In fact, the only real damage is just wear on the driver’s seat from many years of dependable use. The rest of the interior looks quite nice, from the uncracked dash pad to the clean carpets. The bus-like steering wheel seems unusual nowadays in a sporting car, but the three-spoke design is a classic look. Thankfully, this is a manual transmission model, as those are the ones to own.

The engine bay looks quite clean as well, with no obvious signs of long periods of leaks or other damage. The non-stock radiator cap would be removed if it were my car, but I can’t see much else to fault here. The seller says the cars runs and drives but does need brake work; it’s also missing the front valence that slots in beneath the front bumper. This seems like a great foundation for a resto-mod or OEM correct restoration. Which would you choose?


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  1. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Dang. This is pretty much the condition that my first car was in, a 1971 Toyota Corolla 2-door 4-speed wagon. My interior was nicer but that car is burned on my brain, I’d love to find another one. I would restore this Celica back to bone-stock if it were me, but I’m boring that way. I’d want to check it out in person, though – when they say “un-cracked dash pad” and then show a photo of the dash with cracks in it.. hmm..
    Being a “flat light car” (non-raised tail lights), adds to the value a bit, or at least adds to the mystique/cache of owning an older car before they had updated tail lights. That’s a heck of a nice find, Jeff!

  2. Steve R

    I like the sellers definition of uncracked dash pad.

    I didn’t think early Celicas were so rare that they command this high of a price.

    Steve R

    Like 1
  3. Rube Goldberg Member

    I always thought these original Celicas were the best. Nice styling, right size, great mechanicals, the biggest problem, they withered away in only a few short years. It’s amazing to see one like this at all. They were very popular, for a time. This is one of the few Toyotas I’d really like to have.

  4. XMA0891

    Hailing from the Northeast; you don’t see this stuff much anymore. 46 years later this one still looks “driver” fantastic! Great stance! I am an admitted sucker for the American four-door, hard-top land yachts of the era, but is there any wonder why the nation turned away from them in droves with these neat little units available?
    Great find!

  5. Adam

    My first car. Would bark the tires in 3rd. I wish I had it back.

    Like 1
  6. Pat A

    My uncle loved him some big GM iron, but he had a 74 Celica that he could never stop raving about. A little jewel of a car.

  7. Ken M

    Bought one new, engine blew up 50mi from the dealership. Worst car ever.

  8. Gay Car Nut

    Nice looking car. I’ve always loved this generation Toyota Celica. The asking price seems a bit steep given its condition. Instead of $5990, I’d pay 1/2 that, that way I can afford to do some restoration to it, at least enough to be driveable, that everything on the car works like it should, and a good paint job.

    • Poppapork

      Ilike your idea, except a “good paintjob” – unless your a painter yourself a good paintjob would cost morer than the asking price of this car…. way more….

  9. Buick Fan

    What a cool, blast from the past car! I would love to lease it for a week just for the memories….

  10. MG-bakka

    cool find!

    Thumps up!

  11. mark

    Just sold this 1977 GT, not running, for $3000.00 to a guy in South America…..

    • fish56

      I bought a silver 1977 GT new. Cost about $6400. Had manual trans, louvered rear window, air conditioning, 8 track. That car handled very well whipping around Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive “S” Curve.

      Like 1
  12. P Wentzell

    Wow. Bought one of these from a friend in 1985 for $250.00. Barbara had the interior re-done, everything worked (A/C, clock), and it was in much better condition than this featured Celica (despite the body dents, and two ‘special’ features!). Fun to drive, 5 – speed, 18RC engine. Those two special features: Barbara’s Dad was her mechanic, there was a valve under the dash, up against the firewall, you would turn the valve out for Spring and Summer (A/C), the valve would inward for the heater (Fall & Winter). The best feature was the ignition, the key was a small flat bladed screwdriver! Before I bought the car, Barbara drove to a fancy restaurant, handed the parking Valet the screwdriver, and with the wave of her hand told him: “Take good care of it!”

  13. Joe M

    I had a blue 1972 toyota celica st when I was in college. Paid 900 for it. My friends still remind me of that car, lots of fun times.

    Wish I still had it, but was in an accident and the front clip was damaged.

    In the early 90’s, calling alot of junkyards for a 1972 toyota celica st front clip, I got alot of “good luck with that” statements or just uproarious laughter on the other end of the line. Sadly had to scrap it.

    Too far for me though, on the East Coast.

  14. Fiete T.

    $6k. Nope.

  15. Dave

    my sister bought one brand new right after graduation. Drove it for 10+ years until it had so much rust she was afraid to drive it anymore, but it still ran great! She sold it for $500. but the phone rang off the hook and might have neen able to get more. Funny thing about the car is that when it was 3-4 years old, my sister said a friend said she should check the oil. She asked me to help her… well there was just a drop on the tip if the dipstick a nice dull black color. When I asked her when the last time the oil was changed, she said never, didn’t know you needed to?? Anyway, with regular changes from then on, the old Cleica ran great!

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