First released in 1970, the Toyota Celica went on to become a legend, not only in rallies, but on the road as well.
I find myself privileged to own an imported 1990 Toyota Celica 2.0 GT-I 16, the fifth generation of this iconic car. The styling is fantastic, the steering is crisp and precise and the ride is smooth and exhilarating.
Powered by a 2 litre 16 valve twincam engine producing 118kW, 0-100km/h takes 8 thrilling seconds and the Celica can scream on to a top speed of 240km/h.
As the Celica is a coupe, you do have a few drawbacks.
Space is a major issue, and while the Celica does come equipped with rear seats, they are there purely for aesthetic purposes. Actually fitting anybody taller than a garden gnome in there is quite problematic.
The boot, while big, is not very deep, so only the slimmest of suitcases fit.
Being Toyota’s idea of a sports car, they have decided to sacrifice comfort for power and speed, so there is no air-conditioning, which in a South African summer can leave you feeling that you are sitting in a pressure cooker.
They have included a blower, all the better to send the scorching heat from the outside to the inside of the car, instantly leaving your passengers wishing they had braved a minibus taxi instead.
You also get a sunroof, useful for allowing the blazing sun into the car, completing the feeling that you could spontaneously combust at any second.
'Song and poetry'
But then, who buys a sports car for comfort. You buy it for the speed, the power, and more importantly, the noise. The Celica’s war-cry as it approaches 6 000 r/min is the stuff of song and poetry.
Add to that the perfect response of the steering and the way it goes around corners, and you are in motoring heaven. The racing seats hold you in position perfectly as you scream around corners and buses. It is the stuff wet dreams are made of.
But what would speed be without stopping power. The disc brakes slow the car from warp speed to a complete standstill so hard that your contact lenses will rip from your eyes and get plastered to the windshield. Doing an emergency stop in the Celica actually hurts!
The big issue these days of course is the rising fuel price. And on that front the Celica is surprisingly economical. You get 600 fun-filled kilometres from its 55-litre fuel tank.
The styling is fantastic! With its sloping nose, big boot spoiler and wide body, the Celica looks quite good parked among your Italian sports cars.
The story is no different inside where you are completely engulfed in leather and equipment. While nowhere near the level of equipment that comes standard on today’s cars, the Celica still feels modern - you even get electric windows and electric side mirrors as standard.
To sum up, the Celica is a phenomenal car. Of course, being a Toyota it is extremely reliable, and fuel economy isn’t bad either. The perfect day would comprise of nothing but the open road and the Celica soundtrack playing in your ears. It is truly a car that will go down in the history books.