Pros: cheap, reliable, fun.
This review is for the 1985 Toyota Celica GT. It has a 22r-e 2.4L 4 cylinder compared to a 5m-ge 2.8L 6 cylinder in the Celica supra, and a solid rear axle, instead of IRS in the Celica supra. Otherwise, the cars are similar.
Toyota introduced the Celica in 1971. The original Celica was compact, sporty and affordable. The 1985 model year Celica holds true to its heritage. The 1985 Celica featured an updated version of Toyotas tried and true 22R-E engine pushing its rear wheels. For 1986, Toyota introduced a new Celica with a Front drive layout and a smaller 4-cylinder engine. Thus, the 1985 Celica was the last of the purebreds and the Celicas climactic year. Well, thats my opinion anyway
My Celica is the 1985 GT model. When I wrote and published the first version of this review it had about 100400 miles. Since then, I put an additional 7000 miles on it and sold it in March of 2004. I never had any major problems with the car, although I did replace the starter, battery and a few other things. The car showed its age, but overall was very solid.
The 22r-e engine is a workhorse. These engines were also used in Toyota pickups and 4runners, and many have over 300000 miles. It is insane the amount of abuse these engines can take and they just keep running. Rated at 116 horsepower at 4800 RPMS and 140 pound feet of torque at 2800 RPMS, the strength of the 22R-E is definitely in low to mid range power. 140 pound feet of torque is more then most four-cylinders today! However, above 4500rpms, the engine seems to run out of steam.
The car, stock, is not a rocket, but at only 2500lbs, it will own any 80's Honda civic, accord or prelude, and most comparable cars from the era as well. It can keep up with many newer model cars too. There are many aftermarket parts available for the 22r series engines. They can be built up to 300+hp, turbocharged. Parts are kind of pricey compared to ford or GM 4 cylinder parts though. Regardless, this car could be made into a real sleeper.
My Celica has the Toyota A40D 4 speed automatic transmission. It is fair enough. It doesn't keep shifting between 3rd and 4th anytime the accelerator is tapped, like in some cars I have been in.
I have gotten pretty poor gas mileage(low 20's mpg), however this is mostly local driving. On the highway, I get closer to 30mpg.
The handling of the car is not great; however, my car is on its original shocks and struts that are 18 years old! Adding a front tower bar and bigger rear track bar could improve the handling, as the car does exhibit some body roll. The ride is pretty rough, but more then bearable for me. Note that the Celica gt-s and Celica supra had a completely different rear end, with IRS. One thing I like about the car is one of the few rear wheel drive compact cars from the 80's-present. With 185mm width tires, it is easy to throw the rear end around and break it loose in acceleration, but it is easy to control and the car is responsive to input from the wheel and throttle. Overall, I feel that it is easy to find the limits of the car, and it is fun to drive. You could defiantly do some mad drifting in this car.
The interior of the Celica is well laid out. The instrument panel has a 130mph speedometer(82-83 Celicas and Celica Supras has a 85mph speedo) tachometer, as well as a voltmeter and oil pressure gauge. The seats are comfortable, way better then the seats in my Mom's 1999 Maxima. The Celica Supra and Celica Gt-s had even better seats. Space in the rear seats are limited as expected. Hatchback models have good room for storage though. Overall, the car feels very good, everything seems in place, the build quality is good.
The wedge shaped exterior styling with pop-up headlights is classic 80s. The styling is distinctive nowadays. Rather impressive is that the car is pretty aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient of .340. Looking at the car, you wouldnt think a boxy 80s car would be as aerodynamic as many 90s jellybean cars.
The biggest problem with these cars is the rust. I don't know why but these cars rust like crazy. In addition to rust on the rear hatch, there could be rust to the wheel wells, and other areas.
Unfortunately, I have heard (as of August 2004) that Toyota will discontinue the Celica after the 2005 model year, after 34 years of continuous production. However, I will always have a soft spot for the Celica, even for those crappy front-wheel drive models. I will continue to reminisce about my 1985 Celica for a long time to come. Yes, Im biased, but I will always view the 1982-1985 Celica as one of the most underrated cars in automotive history.