Very reliable, affordable, fun daily driver
Note that I bought this car from its original owner, an 85-year-old retiree woman who could no longer drive.
When I bought the car, its engine vibrated harshly. I found valve lash to be badly out of adjustment, so I reset clearances and it runs much more smoothly, although still has some vibration due probably to worn mounts.
I replaced the fuel pressure pulsation damper, which leaked intermittently.
I replaced the starter a few months after purchasing the car.
I replaced the rear shocks, which were original units. Front struts are leaking and in need of replacement, but quality parts are difficult to find (see note below) and sometimes pricey. I replaced the front wheel bearings and races, rather than simply repack the old (original) ones. I replaced the front outer tie rod ends.
Rear four-link suspension bushings are dry-rotted and in need of replacement.
I replaced the radio antenna (power-retractable unit), which had been broken off, with a factory Toyota part.
On very hot days (120*F and up), the car will begin to overheat if the air conditioning is used for some time. I replaced the thermostat and coolant to no effect; I expect the cooling system is simply not up to the challenge of an Arizona summer. I will try a larger radiator before the next summer.
Gold paint is badly faded.
Door seals (upper and lower) leak, making the car noisy at high speeds.
Final drive gears whine. This is a known issue with live-axle Celicas; the pinion gear requires adjustment, and I don't have the proper tools.
This has been the most reliable, solid car I have ever owned. I purchased it for $800 and have put about $450 (bear in mind, I work at an auto shop and am able to install my own parts at discounted prices) more into it since then, including such non-essential repairs as the radio antenna, but not the tires, which were nearing ten years old.
Fuel mileage, at 24-26mi/gal, is the worst of any Toyota I have owned, but still decent even compared to newer cars of its size.
My Celica is one of the last small rear-wheel-drive cars, along with the Corolla Sport (my previous car, an '85, also very reliable). Very fun to drive and fairly easy to work on.
Some parts can be VERY difficult to come by. Toyota no longer stocks, for instance, door/window seals or the front shock-absorbing engine mount. Junkyard parts abound, however, and most engine parts are quite easily found, since the Celica uses the common, extremely stout 22RE engine (also found in pickup trucks and 4Runners). Parts availability is the biggest headache I face in repairing my car. I would happily throw a few thousand dollars into trims, seals etc. to make it nicer-looking and quieter.
Every accessory works wonderfully. Air conditioning is reasonably cold, power steering works and does not leak, heater works very nicely.
Once again, this is the best all-around car I have owned. It's not as much fun as my MR2s or the Miata, it's not as fuel-efficient as my Corolla, and it's not as fast as my old Firebird, but it gets me to work and back home comfortably every day, at minimal cost. I remind you again that the car, which will turn 23 years old this year, is quite old and stands as a reminder of a time when cars were built to last. It has the same problems as any old car, with dry-rotting rubber, some brittle plastic, and various rattles and squeaks, but the body is rust-free and the engine uses no oil. Overall it remains a strong-running car.
I love my old Toyotas, and I will probably keep this car for a very long time, even if I win the lottery.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 24th January, 2007