VIDEO: The first-gen Celica was decades ahead of its time

When people talk about sporty Japanese cars from the 70s, the Datsun 240Z usually gets first billing. The Toyota Celica, however, was just as compelling, even with its Malaise Era safety bumpers. In fact, when compared with its competition from that post-oil crisis period in America, the Celica is decades head of its time.

In the latest episode of Regular Car Reviews, a 1977 Celica Liftback impresses with its overall styling brownness, powerful 20R motor, and 5-speed transmission in an age when even Corvettes had just four. Narrator Mr Regular notices that you can drive it on the highway at a normal, modern rpm. Sure, the coilovers and Racing Harts give it a substantially better road feel from stock, but that’s also part of its charm, that a few simple bolt-ons can so drastically improve its performance. A 1970s car that drives like it was made in the 90s? Who wouldn’t like that?

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11 Responses to VIDEO: The first-gen Celica was decades ahead of its time

  1. Joel says:

    My Mom had one. Engine was bulletproof. The body, not so much. Was sad when we got rid of it.

  2. Bob says:

    My cousin bought one new that very same year. I lusted after that car.
    I owned a 1979 GT Liftback 5-speed that I sold 25 years ago. And, of all the 30 cars that I’ve owned, I regret parting with that one the most.
    And, before I leave this planet, I will own a gen II Supra. One of the prettiest things ever put on wheels.

  3. Jayrdee says:

    This is probably the only car I would consider selling/trading my AE86 for.

  4. Keith Measures says:

    Truly an excellent car. Though i love gremlins as well

    Heres mine

  5. vic says:

    Proud original owner of a ’72 Celica RA21 ST coupe. GT was not available in the states until 1974. Bought it new in 1972 for $2847.00. Still have and love it 47 years later. What sold me at the time? Styling, full instrumentation, reclining seats, heated rear window. Lots of standard features for the time. Handling/performance was decent and sporty. 105,000 original miles. Except for “normal” routine maintenance items, have only replaced the clutch. Hope that doesn’t jinx anything! A cool unusual item was a small “trouble light” that plugged into a socket in the glove box. Nice reading other folks have admiration for the vehicles. Long live the 1st Gen!

  6. Ren Höek says:

    It’s really difficult for me to look at that car and NOT want to tear off the bumpers.
    Perhaps impossible.

  7. Gilles says:

    I have a 1977 GT Liftback like this one. I have it since new, march 77. Just pass 70,000 miles last summer. Mine is maroon M with ivory interior. Like it since the first day I buy it.for $6,330 CDN.

  8. Socarboy says:

    I always loved those 1st gen Celica liftbacks. I was a 19 year old kid working at a Toyota dealer when these were new. I wish Toyota would make a “new Celica” out of the Lexus RC350

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