1997 Toyota Celica Reviews

1997 Toyota Celica ST Special Edition 1.8 7afe from North America

Model year1997
Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership2009
Most recent year of ownership2010
Engine and transmission 1.8 7afe Manual
Distance when acquired164000 miles
Most recent distance170000 miles
Previous carHonda CR-V

Summary:

Classic '90's Toyota quality

Faults:

Front speakers do not work.

Hinge for center console storage lid is broken.

Excessive oil build-up around oil filter and under oil pan. Either it is warpage around the oil filter (which is replaced often), the oil pan gasket, or warpage in the oil pan itself.

Front CV axles replaced due to ripped outside boots and gear oil leaking from differential seals.

Wheel bearings starting to make noise.

Radio automatic antenna motor runs, but does not go up/down.

Slightly rough idle.

Clutch starting to go (unknown if original).

General Comments:

Bought this car very used from a kid who neglected it. Interior had food stains, cig burn holes in the seats and floor, smelled like gym class, and had a slight moldy smell. Some of the buttons on the radio were broken off.

He also didn't take care of the engine either, because the oil was in poor shape and the filter was too dirty to tell what brand it was. Fuel filter was never changed. Must have been original coolant.

It has also been an outside car its whole life, never seeing shade in South Florida. The roof and hood paint is now only primer, but the sides are good. Only rust to the body is where the stone-chips are.

But, with all that neglect, the car is in good shape. The entire dash functions. The radio, while down to only 2 speakers, still works, with the CD able to play CD-R disks. The cassette deck still works. Rear defroster works.

And the A/C. I can't say enough how amazed I am with how cold it is after 13 years. The blower motor is good and the temp needs to be turned down after a few minutes, even during a 90 degree day.

The engine is still strong at 170K. I don't rag on it since she is an old girl, but if I have to merge into interstate traffic, she can get it done. 5-speed still snaps into and out of gear. I am getting around 25mpg.

All in all, still a great car. Built when Toyota was building great cars for pride, and not building many cars for a huge bottom line.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th March, 2010

1997 Toyota Celica GT Four / GT4 ST205 2.0 from UK and Ireland

Model year1996
Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership2005
Most recent year of ownership2007
Engine and transmission 2.0 Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 0 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.8 / 10
Distance when acquired78000 miles
Most recent distance101000 miles
Previous carToyota Celica

Summary:

Under-rated sleeping monster!

Faults:

Nothing has gone wrong a such - but obviously regular services on a turbo car are very important, along with simple wear and tear.

Compared to most high performance cars, the GT4 ST205 is relatively economical, but since it's a Toyota and a fairly rare car - parts can be very expensive. Despite this, various companies now offer genuine parts for this car a lot cheaper than from Toyota themselves.

Don't be fooled by thinking a car with main dealer service history is better than a car that an enthusiast has maintained himself. The majority of main dealers rarely see one of these cars, and to be honest, sometimes look lost when you present problems to them - stick to independent specialists, OR if you have the aptitude - do some work yourself.

85,000 miles - Oil change with Millers Fully Synthetic Ester based oil and genuine filter - has a non-return valve, unlike cheap copies - very important. DIY £55.

92,000 miles - (Passenger side) Fig 8 (camber control arm), lower suspension arm, banana bar (tie rod bar), + collar - these are common and wear out on all GT4s around 60k - I was lucky and they lasted 90k approx - a testament to how my car has been driven over the years. Now don't fall over now - just under £500 inc delivery for those parts - pain of a job without a good 3 leg puller and a press - another DIY job I've done, but then I had the tools. www.tcbparts.co.uk

94,000 miles - 4 new tyres - Falken £400 (215-50-16 VR).

95,000 miles - Oil change etc as above DIY £55, new genuine HT leads, dizzy cap, rotor arm, Iridium spark plugs, and Blitz panel air filter - DIY £200.

100,000 miles - Charge cooler drain and clean out, rear diff oil change with Millers fully synthetic along with the gearbox and transfer box (6 litres at £10 a litre), engine coolant drain and refill with Red Toyota Forlife Premix - around 6 litres + 2.5 litres for the charge cooler £30, and yet another oil & filter change - DIY total £150 approx - a garage will charge more, and use inferior oils and coolant most probably.

101,000 miles - Driver's side fig 8, lower arm, and banana bar plus sundries and delivery - DIY £500.

Well that's up to now (Aug 2007) - I purchased it in Dec 2005.

In 19k I will require a cam belt change and clutch. A garage will charge around £350-£500 for the cam belt, and a clutch is usually a half engine out job, depending on how good the mechanic is - costs for that can vary from £350 to £1000 - the higher being a quote from a garage who simply doesn't want to do it - it's around an 8 hour job - I'll being doing mine myself, so the costs in parts for a reasonable quality clutch, and whilst I'm there a lightened flywheel, will be around £300 without the dreaded labour.

My advice - join the owners sites (www.gt4oc.net & read www.gtfours.co.uk), and steer clear of Toyota dealerships - they haven't a clue and will charge the earth.

General Comments:

Well when compared to an EVO and the dreaded Impreza WRX (common as hell) - the GT4 fares better in the reliability and insurance costs - it's only group 17, which I think is wrong - but I won't complain when paying the insurance. Sky and Elephant do quite good prices, regardless of whether it's an import or UK car.

This car is seriously under rated and often unknown of amongst the likes of owners of Saxos, Clios, Focus's, Golf GTIs etc, and believe me they sit on your ass from time to time, and if you're like me, you just have to warn them off with the heavy right foot - I love it.

If you don't like having a car that everyone else has, and don't mind a good stare from onlookers - this is your car.

So what's the GT4 like to drive? Let's go for an analogy here: you know how it is when you try to punch out a big bloke! You land a sweet left hook and all he does is shake his head and then start to slowly roll up his sleeves to prepare a response. Well, that's what a GT-Four does. Whatever punishment you mete out, it is ready to respond, but that sleeve-rolling ritual is actually just a prelude to a helpful handshake.

If you were on the fence about four-wheel drive before you drove a GT-Four, you'd soon become an instant convert. It sticks to the road with vengeance, and you will bottle out long before the Celica does; in fact, you'd have to be doing something very silly to unstick it.

The GT4 has more than ample thrust once you get past the throttles initial softness, but that brief lag becomes a distant memory as the power kicks in. All that available traction gets it off the line very smartly indeed. The GT4 has a brilliant throttle-tuneable cornering ability, as the 50-50 torque split lets the rear wheels drift wide when provoked, feeding power up front if the rears begin to misbehave - squirting out of corners is second nature.

The GT4 stands out as the truly invigorating buy in Toyotas performance car line-up. Without the brashness of it's big brother, the Supra, or the toy-town indulgence of an MR2, the GT4 is a truly focused sports car with a real rally winning pedigree. It is also a proper grand tourer that will eat up the miles, and like all Toyota's, will be utterly reliable if looked after properly.

As for the comfort side of things - just like Jeremy Clarkson said back in 1994 when he compared the GT4 to the Escort Cosworth - if you're under 6ft - buy the GT4 - however if you're over 6ft, and even better if your name is Kev - buy the Cosworth :-)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd August, 2007

25th Sep 2008, 17:30

Right on! I own one of these great cars and this review hits the nail on the head. A word of warning though. They are very addictive and have earned the nickname 'faff' in the u.k. due to the fact that owners are always 'faffing' about with them. It is also derived from its model number the st205 or st20faff. No lie... My bank balance is depleted lately from all the toys, modifications and fuel my faff gets treated with... oh well. Its worth it!

5th Sep 2009, 02:23

As stated, main dealer parts are pretty pricey, but you can get aftermarket parts a lot cheaper. Some are crap quality though, so watch out which ones you get. I get a brand called Blueprint, which seems pretty good.

But saying that, being a Toyota they're generally built pretty well. PS: I'm also majorly in love with my Celica, so maybe I'm a bit biased? LOL.

24th Oct 2009, 15:46

What a great review. Seriously considering a well looked after and low-k's 1997 GT4 right now (and yes, I'm under 6 foot)

29th May 2010, 13:24

I also have a GT4 ST205 WRC. I'm 6ft3 and I fit a treat in it. I did think when I see the Top Gear review that he just liked the Ford Cosworth more coz he had one at the time... :)

25th Nov 2010, 08:51

Excellent review. I have a 94 ST205 and I absolutely love it. It's currently around 300 HP with basic mods (decat, boost controller etc).

I never seem to keep a car for more than a few months, but I have had the Celica for nearly a year. I was very lucky and personally imported my own Celica with 25k on the clock, and the engine body work etc are like brand new.

As for petrol, it's thirsty, but no more so than any other 2.0 turbo I have owned.

One thing I would recommend is that if you are running higher boost than stock is to lag the charge cooler. It's cheap and easy to do, and really makes a difference to the temps. Oh and get on the gt4oc.net... Great and helpful site.

Average review marks: 7.5 / 10, based on 4 reviews