Toyota Celica, the first convertible with 4-wheel-steering

Today, August 24, is the birthday of a car that is pretty unique in the annals of automotive history. It’s the day the fifth-generation Toyota Celica Convertible was introduced, a car that most observers don’t think of as being particularly noteworthy. However, this humble Celica has the distinction of being the first factory convertible equipped with 4-wheel steering.

Four-wheel-steering as we know it was invented by Nissan on the R31 Skyline as early as 1985, but it soon spread across the Japanese auto industry like a cold virus at daycare. The Celica was the first Toyota to come with dual-mode 4WS, which allowed the driver to select two different rear wheel angles, one for standard driving and one for sporty driving. Sadly, this feature was offered only in Japan and never made it to US-market Celicas.

Instead, we got the Celica convertible, which emerged from the factory as coupes before being sent to ASC to get their tops chopped. Though executed by third parties, these conversions were still sold through the dealer network alongside coupes with the same warranty and can be considered official. Toyota, unlike Nissan or Mitsubishi, sent Celica Convertibles back across the Pacific and sold them through their dealers in Japan.

As a result, Japanese customers could buy a Toyota Celica 4WS Convertible. These cars, chassis code ST183, were powered by a naturally aspirated 3S-GE making 162 horsepower and 142 lb-ft of torque. An additional Celica 4WS Convertible Type G trim level added luxury options like leather seats.

The only other car we can think of from that era which offered both a convertible version and 4WS was the S13 Nissan Silvia. Like the US market 240SX was converted by ASC. Unlike the Celica, the Japanese Silvia convertibles were converted by Autech and are completely different animals. However, as far as we can tell the Autech Silvia convertible was never offered with Nissan’s 4WS system, HICAS.

Nowadays four-wheel steering is commonplace on high-end sports cars, including convertibles like the Porsche 911 and Lamborghini Aventador. If anyone has the gall to not take your Celica Convertible seriously, you can tell them that it pioneered 4WS droptops.

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6 Responses to Toyota Celica, the first convertible with 4-wheel-steering

  1. streetspirit says:

    If i had a buck for every 4 wheel steering ASC convertible converted japanese coupe from the 90’s…
    I’d have 3$, that’s not a lot but pretty coincedental nonetheless.

    • Ginkei Garage, Inc. says:

      Inflation accounted, you’d even have 7$ by then !

      • streetspirit says:

        if only inflation worked for JNC and we’d retroactively get 4 more of those ASC convertible converted japanese coupes from the 90’s. i’m voting for a prelude, SVX, lexus SC aerocabin and a topless FD.

  2. f31roger says:

    ASC’s OG status is starting to show!!!

    It bugs me that ASC is almost a different company to this day and I’ve been trying to search for as much history as possible about ASC and Infiniti M30 convertibles.

    I was never a convertible guy, but in recent years of owning one, it does feel great to have the top down and go cruising.

    Many of the younger generation HATE convertibles, as I did when I was younger… but I guess there’s a change of heart when you become older.

    As someone said to me, “I’ve reached old man status now”.

  3. f31roger says:

    Did the Mitsubishi 3000GT convertible 4WS?

  4. George says:

    I just bought a 1991 JDM RHD Celica convertible with 4-wheel steering. I have it in Arizona but don’t know anything about it. What do I need to know? Thank you

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