Derived from the Latin word “coelica," meaning “celestial”, the Toyota Celica was based on Toyota’s EX-1“Car of the Future” prototype. It influenced the design of the sporty subcompact automobile market, and it was geared towards car enthusiasts who were looking for more than just a simple form of transportation.
1970 to 1977: First Generation
Unveiled to the public in 1971, it was Toyota’s version of the Ford Mustang and it was more of an image car, rather than a high-volume car. It was only available as a two-door sports coupe and powered by a 2.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. The GT model was introduced in 1974 and it offered a 2-liter engine that would power the Celica for the next decade. The Toyota Celica was in 9th place during the World Rally Championship in 1972.
1977 to 1981: Second Generation
Powered by a 2.2-liter engine, the Celica now had ST and GT trim models. Both models offered a larger engine, sportier handling, better interior and exterior trims, luggage capacity, and comfort. The second generation Celica was safer, fuel-efficient, and more powerful compared to its predecessor. Motor Trend awarded the Celica as its 1978 “Import Car of the Year.” A US Grand Prix Toyota Celica Liftback was offered in 1980 and it was called the GTA Coupe. This model was released to commemorate the Celica’s 10th year anniversary.
1982 to 1985: Third Generation
A lot of style changes were made to the Toyota Celica on its third generation. Since it became larger and heavier, Toyota introduced the GT-S model to regain the Celica’s sporty image. A sports suspension, interior, larger wheels, tires, fender flares, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob were added. Fuel injection also became a standard on all the Toyota Celica’s released in North America.
1985 to 1989: Fourth Generation
The Celica underwent changes in 1986 and a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder twin cam engine was fitted into it. A front-wheel-drive and four-wheel independent suspension system made the Toyota Celica an all-around sports sedan. An All-Trac Turbo Celica variant was added to the line, equipped with a full-time, all-wheel-drive system, and a turbo-charged 2.0-liter engine. The Toyota Celica finally won its first WRC victory during the 1989 Australian Rally.
1990 to 1993: Fifth Generation
New engines were fitted into the Toyota Celica; these were the 2.2-liter and 1.6-liter engines, which used the DOHC 16-valve technology. Some luxury features were also added including a leather interior, power-operated driver’s seat, sunroof, and a ten-speaker sound system. The Toyota Celica GT-R was released in 1990 to celebrate the Celica’s 20th year anniversary.
1994 to 1999: Sixth Generation
The new Toyota Celica GT was re-engineered to handle like a GT-S and the Celica All-Trac model was dropped. A third generation Celica convertible was made, using the GT coupe model in 1995. New safety features were also added to the Celica, and these were the driver and passenger-side airbags, anti-lock brakes, and CFC-free air-conditioning. Optional side skirts and a redesigned rear wing were offered to improve the Celica’s aerodynamic efficiency.
2000 to 2006: Seventh and Final Generation
With the help of the Calty Design Research Inc, Toyota redesigned the Celica to have an aggressive attitude and cutting-edge styling. The front fascia was lowered; it sported sharp-edged panels, and plunging curves. A new 1.8-liter 4-cylinder DOHC 180-horsepower all-aluminum engine powered the Celica. The new engine was co-developed with Yamaha. On its last year, the Toyota Celica was only sold in Japan, and the last Celica rolled out of the production line on April 21, 2006.