One of You Needs to Buy This 1994 Toyota Celica GT-Four
I’m tired of S2000s scoring high five figures at auction. It’s time for the Ultimate Celica to have its day.
I don't understand the values behind Bring a Trailer auctions. A Honda Civic Si going for $50,000! An S2000 fetching $76,500! Even the damn Element is getting cocky these days. Well, here's a fast Toyota from the 1990s that you should consider instead—and as of this writing, it's still pretty cheap.
Up for grabs on BaT is this 1994 Toyota Celica GT-Four. It's in Canada, which makes sense as that model year was really only U.S.-legal last year, and as I write this the current bid is just $5,500. What a steal.
The Toyota Celica had an extremely odd evolution as a car, where often the only common thread was the name itself. It started life as a kind of smaller-scale Japanese Mustang knockoff, had a couple boxy phases in the '70s and '80s, then went front-wheel drive after the Supra split off from the line and became its own model. It ended life in the early 2000s as a sharp-angled but relatively anodyne sport coupe that I thought was cool when I was in high school.
But along the way, Toyota took it rallying, often to great success. The GT-Four models—some of which were known as the All-Trac Turbo models in the U.S.—were homologation specials that packed all-wheel drive, turbocharged power and impressive race-inspired performance.
Personally, I prefer its first two generations, the ST165 and ST185, because I'm a sucker for pop-up headlights. But objectively speaking, the badass of the bunch was the ST205, this model, which ran from 1994 to 1999. It packed a 2.0-liter turbo 3S-GTE motor good for 252 horsepower in the Japanese market, a five-speed manual, all-wheel-drive and a solid amount of tech that trickled down from the World Rally Championship cars. (Fun fact: the WRC version packed one of the more infamous and ingenious racing cheats of the modern era.)
We didn't get that variant in North America—our Celica was considerably tamer. But thanks to the magic of export laws, it can be yours now, on various auction sites and Craigslist. This example has some mods: a carbon fiber hood, an aftermarket exhaust system, a Sparco steering wheel, 17-inch OZ wheels and Rally Armor mud flaps. All manageable and tasteful, I'd say. It's also got a bit of rust on the doors and a quarter panel. It has also had at least two owners.
The mileage could be considered high, at 122,000 (or 197,000 km), but this is a Toyota. Take care of it and it'll take care of you. And frankly, it makes me happy that someone actually drove this thing and didn't just shove it in a garage. You should do the same.
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