1988 Toyota Celica GT Convertible 3SFE


A beautiful piece of Toyota engineering!


Heater controls intermittent: After thorough troubleshooting, I found cold solder joints where the connectors attach to the heater control in the dash. Re-soldered... works fine.

Starter intermittent: Replaced contacts in solenoid. $15 fix. Got the parts online.

Starter intermittent (a couple of years later). Replaced neutral safety switch (Pull-a Part $10 vs parts store $215). You can disassemble, clean, and fix it yourself most times.

Engine sludged up from a plugged up valve cover. Be careful to watch for this. Didn't hurt it. Cleaned the sludge out.

New top at 120K.

Other maintenance: tires, brakes, struts, oil/filter.

General Comments:

This is one of the finest cars I've owned (40+). Toyota really made them well in these years, and the Celica GT Convertible was one of the top of the line offered.

Seats are a little uncomfortable for long trips.

Power accessories work well, as does the top system. Best I've seen yet.

Quiet, quick, great looking, excellent gas mileage (30+, no matter how you drive it).

If this one goes, I'll get another. If you can find a clean one that hasn't been abused... buy it!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th April, 2013

13th Apr 2013, 02:47

No, Toyota did not make them well these years because mine self destructed before 100,000 miles. You must own the last 1980's Toyota that still exists today.

14th Apr 2013, 03:09

Hmmm, define "self destructed". Also to the reviewer, you seemed to cover an awfully long distance over 4 years.

14th Apr 2013, 16:50

In the period of a few months, I repaired the engine, transmission, steering, suspension and electricals on the Celica I owned. Soon after, it stalled out in the middle of a busy freeway. I immediately took it off the road and sold it for parts. I did not want myself or anybody else, to be DESTROYED along with the car.

1988 Toyota Celica GT 3FSE, 1.8L(?)


I miss this car very, very much


Replaced rebuilt catalytic converter with new one.

Replaced sunroof apparatus after students destroyed it.

Exhaust blew out in spectacular fashion (but would have been cheap to replace).

Rusted floor and sills (was able to patch floor but sills got away from me).

It was hit twice while it was parked, once in the new fender and once driver side destroyed - 1st time in parking lot at a garage, 2nd time someone backed into it from across the street!

General Comments:

I became stupidly attached to this rusty old car immediately.

Started at -20 degree Celsius without a block heater.

Pop-up headlights always worked.

Sunroof worked and never leaked.

Fuel economy unreal, always double checking figures - up to 40 mpg in summer, over 30 mpg with updated A/C in stop'n'start Toronto highway traffic, made 4 trips between Ottawa and London on less than 1 tank of gas each way (over 700 km). Ran well even with bad converter.

Most mechanical work was done as preventative maintenance, only got as far as new fender on bodywork before I had to move to a place where I couldn't park it while saving up. Rust was a problem, but it was pretty decent for a 20-year old Canadian car, which I discovered had at least 10 previous owners!

Low miles, probably on a replacement engine, suspect it had been in front-end collision (like far too many Celicas!).

Most mechanical work was under $400, and most was done by regular garages - if I had the skills, a pretty easy car to work on yourself, certainly not dealer dependent. Getting a little tough to find parts - most people keep them now, or have written them off due to age and accidents.

Very, very easy car to drive, even with tractor-like stick shift. Moved tons of stuff with hatchback.

A 2004 Aveo is a very poor replacement - replaced the drive belt already at less than 68000 km, Celica I replaced belt and water pump as normal for-age work at about 128000 km. I wish Toyota had taken the Mazda MX5 Miata as model for continuing to build and sell a fun, reliable, inexpensive sporty little car, which in the Celica's case, can go camping or to the grocery store or cruise easily down the highway at 120 kph *cough* or so... did I mention it was even great in winter? - even more solid on snow tires, mass distribution on this low-sitting car was just about perfect! Sigh.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th May, 2009