Reliable performance with style at great price!
I just bought this car, however I can list what problems the previous owner has told me about and those that are still current:
The CV boots were recently replaced, although some clicking at extreme steering lock. (Previous owner tells me - but I cannot hear it).
Electric aerial no longer functions.
Interior door armrest trim has sizable hole/s.
Some slight stretching to driver's seat material (expected!).
Original muffler was replaced about 3yrs ago due to rust, replacement muffler has small hole.
Small rattle/vibration at idle - but does not seem to be anything serious.
This car is the first that I have owned and so far I am extremely satisfied with it and a very proud owner.
I worked at an Alfa Romeo car dealership for over a year and during that time drove a lot of excellent cars. But I would have to say that this Celica would rate very highly in terms of performance and driving pleasure with some of the best - including the latest Alfas, my brother's Nissan Pulsar SSS and many others.
The steering and handling are fantastic! Not many other reviews comment on this, but I am most impressed. The suspension is perhaps a little soft for a racer, but on real roads the car sticks to its line very well. This is enhanced by a low center of gravity.
I think the engine I have is a 3S-FE engine - rated at 115hp. It is very capable and runs smoothly. No oil leaks or smoke.
My car is in an excellent example : One previous owner since new, always garaged, serviced, no rust and beautiful original paint. $2200 AUD.
I also tested and looked at the SX model with the twin Cam 3S-GE motor (130hp). This had a bit more power and the tachometer went 1000rpm higher (9000 over the ST's 8000). Although I would prefer this model it was difficult to find a good price for one that had not been driven hard. I don't think I will be at all disappointed with the ST's performance (unless I went head to head with an SX!). I would have liked it to be rear wheel drive, but oh well..
The styling is great, and still looks good in 2004. Has kept its design much better than most '80s cars. The body panel shape feel and look "solid". The frame-less window doors look nice and modern, but the doors give a light rattle upon slamming - but close securely.
This ST model has the lower end interior trim specifications and features. If you want plush interiors then seek the 1988 model - especially the special edition "white lightning" model. The seats (as with all 4th Generation Celicas I have tested) are very comfortable - with very adjustable and supportive bucket seats. The hatch is also very practical, with a large loading capacity with the back seats down.
In the future I plan to upgrade my car myself with features such as, Air Conditioning, power windows, new door interior panels, central locking etc., depending on the complexity and cost of each job. I also plan to fix the electric aerial. Because this car is in such good condition I consider it worth my time to treat it well.
I spent weeks scanning the classifieds and the Internet for my first car - looking at and testing many different models (inc. Camry, Nissan Pintara, Alfa 33, Subaru Liberty, Alfa Gtv('75 - '80s), Lada Niva..). And today, after purchasing my car and giving it a good drive I am confident that I made a great choice.
When buying a used car at this price the main importance has to be the reliability, and Toyota has the top reputation for this.
Only time will tell. I will add to this review after a month of driving.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 4th June, 2004