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Sold on Celica

The last generation of Toyota’s popular sports coupe was sold from 1999 until slumping sales killed it off in 2005.

WHAT: Toyota Celica, 2000-2005

VEHICLE TYPE: Sports coupe

HISTORY/DESCRIPTION:
The last generation of Toyota’s popular sports coupe was sold from 1999 until slumping sales killed it off in 2005.

Canadian shoppers could pick between a GT and a more powerful GT-S model. Both got a 1.8 litRE engine, tuned to make either 140 or 180 horsepower.

A four-speed automatic was available, and a five-speed or six-speed manual was standard for drivers who like to shift their own gears. The five-speed was standard equipment on the Celica GT, and the six-speed stick came with the GT-S.

All Celica’s were front-wheel drive.

Look for features like a sunroof, keyless remote, power accessories and even leather seating.

WHAT OWNERS LIKE:
As with most sports cars, owners rave about styling and performance, especially where the up-level GT-S is concerned.

Those who drive modestly report decent fuel mileage, and many owners cite Toyota’s reputation for reliability was a major factor in their Celica purchase.

WHAT OWNERS HATE:
Some owners of the GT-S model note that the high-revving engine lacks usable power in day-to-day driving. This engine is an import-tuner’s dream — but it requires maximum revs to get the car moving at full speed. Problem is, pulling off 8,000 RPM gearshifts is a good way to get pulled over.

Interior storage space and trunk space aren’t highly rated, and most Celica owners long for an easier time getting in and out of their ride.

COMMON ISSUES:
Celicas in the used market are commonly upgraded and modified. Minor modifications like an air intake or exhaust system aren’t typically cause for alarm—though they should be checked out for quality of the parts and installation work.

Note that some modifications may violate local laws.

Avoid a model with major engine modifications like a turbocharger or nitrous oxide injection unless you’re thoroughly familiar with their operation. Improperly used, either of the above could cause catastrophic engine damage with minimal notice.

When in doubt, stick to a model that’s stock — or close to it.

Note the condition of the clutch, brakes and tires on a test drive. These consumable parts tend to wear more quickly in sportier cars, so you’ll want to ensure the previous owner isn’t trying to pass the cost onto you.

Inside, be sure to check for proper operation of all windows, the sunroof, and the air conditioner.

Uncertain? Take the vehicle to a Toyota dealer or your favorite mechanic for a check-over.
It may save you an expensive headache down the line.

Some earlier GT-S models suffered from oil consumption problems and engine knock. If you’re considering an earlier GT-S, be sure it runs smoothly and without any questionable sounds. You’ll also want to confirm that the exhaust is free of blue smoke.

A compression test on an older used Celica isn’t a bad idea—just to be safe. Your mechanic can perform one in a few minutes.

THE VERDICT:
As a used sports car, a well-maintained Celica should prove a mainly trouble-free ride.

 
 
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