The term “Pony Car” is thrown around in reference to the Ford Mustang, but it really became a classification of its own. An unlikely brand, Toyota, decided to pick a spot in this class of vehicle and create a cheap, compact sports car for the masses. This car was not big on power, neither was it big on weight, it was just enough all around for the driving experience, and over the years it’s varying evolutions has stayed true to this principle.
This JDM “Pony Car” is known as the Toyota Celica, or “Celica”, as British or Aussies would call it. It’s name derived from its Latin root meaning Celestial. Going through the history of this car though would take a long time, as the line was established in 1970, with its clear similarities to the fastback Mustang being quite evident. Going into the 90’s however, the Celica over its 5 generations, was really coming into its own, with the offshoot of the Supra Mk 3 and MK 4 being derived from its earlier chassis's as well.
A 90's restomod
This particular Celica didn't always look the way it does now, in fact, the car is actually a full restoration. It'll probably be up for debate in the comment section of the article, saying that buying a Celica GT is a waste of time. For me it feels like the GT Celica doesn't get enough love, its bigger brother the GT 4 left some really, really huge shoes for it to fill.
The GT isn’t a turbocharged car, it isn’t 4WD, and it isn't amazingly fast, but it’s special in a lot of respects. Toyota brought their expertise to this car as well when it was being developed, and although it may be considered down on power, it's really high on fun.
It utilizes the same powerplant found in the Toyota MR 2 and an older version of the same motor found in the JDM Toyota Altezza. It's naturally aspirated 3SGE engine behaves more like a 4AGE with a lower torque band but the power is still high up in the rev range. It's a momentum car. Fortune favors the brave when you want to get the most out of this car.
The Celica GT's chassis also benefits from the GT4, although the rear subframe is a bit different, it's wheel arches and layout is basically the same as its homologation variant meaning it feels like well balanced and well put together car. Changing the standard 15-inch road going wheels with larger 16-inch wheels really set it off.
JDM cars are having a hard time in many ways attaining a Classic status, and it seems like some of them have to work twice as hard as many other cars from other regions. What's contributing to the value of JDM cars though, are actually what's going toward their detriment, it's really an oxymoron in it's greatest form. Modders have taken every clean slate and written all over it. JDM cars have been praised for being fun to mod, and fun to change, to the point that finding some models like this Celica in it's purest form unmolested is next to impossible.
JDM cars are also subject to fads. The internet moves in cycles, finding one model after the other where all models are used up and it's on to the next one. So the next time you see those 10 mm spacers on E-bay, or you see that "Cold Air Induction" mod coming your way, don't do it. Enjoy what you have, or mod your car in a more tasteful way, because you may be sitting on the next gold mine.
Happy Motoring! - Alex.