Celvivor: 1984 Toyota Celica GT Coupe

Hey, Celica I just found on craigslist: the 1980s called, and they want their white basketweave wheels back. I kid, I kid; an excruciatingly period-specific car such as this needs period-correct wheels. The 3rd-generation A60 Celica is boxy to the extreme, and it’s rare to find one that looks like it’s only a few years old after turning 30. Would this little creampuff be better than a $19k AE86 survivor on a daily basis? Find this 1984 Toyota Celica GT coupe for sale in rural Agoura Hills, CA for $2,900 via craigslist.

To answer my rhetorical question above – yes – a cheap but excellent example of any car would most certainly be better than an equivalent overpriced car that you’d be afraid to drive. On top of that, somehow this particular Celica manages to exempt itself from the traditional axiom that any cool, potentially sporty, odd survivor car MUST necessarily have an automatic transmission. Thankfully for the driving enthusiast (and those of us who like to remain awake while piloting a neo-classic) this one has a 5-speed manual transmission…but by some strange twist of fate, hasn’t been mercilessly beaten or neglected by its previous owners.

Based on the ad copy, it seems this one is being sold by a friend of the original owner, and it’s claimed to be a pampered machine. The little white basketweaves are aftermarket add-ons, as is the glass sunroof, unfortunately. The big hole cut into virgin sheetmetal is just about the only major flaw I can see with this one. But for less than $3k, who could really complain with a clear conscience?

I should mention the 22R-E engine, not because I think it’s the best thing ever (although its durability is the stuff of legend), but because this underhood shot is exactly what you’d see in the same position of a 3rd, 4th, or 5th generation Hilux pickup. Not exactly the stuff sporting dreams are made of, but the 2.4L 4-cylinder is stout and easy to maintain & repair. This one’s at 152k miles which means a few minor oil leaks and a broken plastic timing chain guide are just about the only problems I’d expect.

But forget about the tractor engine for a minute – the real good stuff is inside. That uncracked blue-gray dash, those spotless cloth seats, that phallic shift lever…whoa! Not sure who decided that the shift knob should be virtually peeking over the hood, but that is one proud stick. A coil or two cut off the springs and a few inches out of the shifter, and I’d drive this thing every day. Keep it in good shape, enjoy, sell in a few years for about the same price as you paid – it’s the DT way.

See a cleaner ’80s RWD coupe? email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com