Toyota has filed for a ownership of the name “Celica” with the US Patent and Trademark Office. While this might indicate nothing more than a desire to hold on to the rights to that name, there’s been some speculation that Toyota could bring the model back.
The trademark filing is pretty recent, dated January 15, 2021. It was noticed by CarBuzz, who offered the hypothesis that it might replace 86 as the name for the upcoming BRZ twin. After all, Subaru has fully revealed its second-generation sports coupe but Toyota has yet to utter a word about the 86.
While the name Celica does somewhat fit with the 86’s ethos — small, lightweight, rear-wheel-drive — the window for naming the Celica has probably passed. Since it started life as a Scion it didn’t make sense to apply the Celica name then. When Scion was killed in 2016 and the FR-S folded into the Toyota brand they simply changed the name to Toyota 86 to make it consistent with the rest of the world.
It would have also made historical sense to call the inline-four Supra the Celica, but Toyota said it would simply confuse customers. We agree, even though the original Supra was a six-cylinder offshoot of the Celica.
We think that given the difficult time Toyota’s had with the Supra, it’s highly unlikely they will offer a standalone model called the Celica. While a generational change might be a logical opportunity to rebrand, it would only cloud both the 86 and Celica names. A Celica isn’t a successor to the AE86, which the 86 was named for, and it would only anger the only people who would actually care what the car is called — us pedantic enthusiasts.
We suppose there might be some name recognition among the non-enthusiast public, and perhaps that’s enough of a reason for Toyota’s marketing department to revive a classic sports coupe name, like Mitsubishi did. But as much as we’d like to see a Celica revival, it should be done right. After all, the name has its own rich and important history.
Images courtesy of Toyota.