1994 Toyota Celica ST204 SX 2.2 DOHC 4-cylinder petrol
Think of it as a stylish A-to-B car, not as a sports coupe
Wiring in the ignition system. Cost a lot due to labour, pulling out the dash, etc.
Wheel bearing, right front. A$300 or so to replace.
Exhaust leak - new exhaust manifold gasket.
Clutch was dead when I got it. New one cost $700 or so.
The Celica is a good cruising car, or as a first car, but isn't much of a handler. It feels heavier than it's weight and steering isn't very communicative. If it's a first car, it'll have all the power you need, and its predictable enough to be stupid in. The torque curve of the engine also means it doesn't encourage aggressive driving - power more or less disappears after 5000rpm.
This model (1994-98) was a really good looking car, with flashes of Ferrari 456GT in it's profile and rear haunches. In my opinion, better looking than the models that preceded and succeeded it.
Other positives are general drivetrain reliability (mechanically, it's a shortened Toyota Camry), great sporty driving position, torquey 2.2 engine is great for highway driving and generally nice interior.
Just make sure you buy a good example, as they are getting old - even though they are Toyota, things will start to need replacing if it's had a hard life. They will develop squeaks in the body eventually. Look out for rust around the rear hatch lining.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 8th September, 2008
8th Sep 2008, 10:17
Good review. As a mechanic I cringe at the prices I see people paying for repairs, but I realize most people don't feel qualified to tackle buying a $25 wheel bearing and seal and putting it in themselves, or a $75 clutch plate either. I always advise others who drive older cars to learn a little about cars by buying a good repair manual. I recently replaced the front brakes on my car for $17 and it took 15 minutes. A friend paid $499 to get his replaced. That's a good example.
Our family had an early 90's Celica and it was, as you said, definitely NOT a sports car. It was the best import in my family, and made 100,000 miles with only minor repairs. I did find the parts to be a bit more expensive than domestics. It was basically a very average and somewhat boring car.
12th Jan 2009, 21:00
I know what you mean. This Celica was my first car, and unfortunately I wasn't very confident in my inspection of the car. I've just sold my second car, and am looking at going back to this model of Celica. Next time I will buy a standard, and probably later model example and make sure the car is in better condition when I buy it.
A lot of what makes the Celica a bad sports car, such as the softish handling and lazy engine, is also what makes it a good daily driver, something more special than a Camry without being any more expensive to run.
I went on a 1100km interstate trip in my friend's Celica of the same vintage as the one I described in the review, the low-down torque was great for overtaking and delivered fuel economy under 7L/100km (think that's about 35mpg in American measure) at an average cruise speed of 130km/h (around 80mph). However it definitely wasn't good for the third passenger - very limited rear legroom and headroom.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting another one - in Australia there's less and less point in real performance cars given the speeding fines, extra running costs and police attention.