After bringing the Supra back to life after a protracted hiatus, it seems as if Toyota may be bringing back the Celica, which was discontinued in 2006.
In the Toyota Times, the company’s internal magazine, former CEO and current chairman Akio Toyoda stated that he had asked for the sport coupe to be revived. Toyoda was asked whether he might submit a request for a new Celica while at the Rally Hokkaido, an international rally racing event hosted on the Japanese island of Hokkaidō.
“Well, I have,” he said. “But I don’t know what name it will come out under.”
More hints at what’s to come
Toyoda’s declaration just confirms what Japanese magazine Best Car wrote in May. That’s when Toyota President Koji Sato remarked, “I want to revive the Celica,” in response to Toyoda’s declaration of affection for the vehicle.
Toyoda has been the driving force behind the GR 86, Supra, GR Yaris, and GR Corolla would all be joined by this model in the expanding collection of stylish Toyotas.
Also present at the rally event was Juha Kankkunen, a former multiple World Rally Champion who won his final championship in a turbocharged Celica GT-Four in 1993. It wouldn’t be out of the question for Kankkunen to aid in the development of a new Celica, having won four world championships, 23 WRC races, and 75 podiums.
“He was champion four times in the Celica,” Toyoda said. “Now you can all have a think about why I’m using Kankkunen so much. See if you can guess!”
A proud history
The Toyota Celica sport coupe was launched in 1970 to compete against the Ford Mustang. Based on the Toyota Carina sedan’s platform, it featured a four-wheel independent suspension with disc brakes, a multi-link rear suspension and a 100-horsepower SOHC 4-cylinder engine.
It would go on to become the first production automobile designed by Toyota’s Calty Design Research Center in Newport Beach, California, when it was redesigned for 1978. It would spawn the Celica Supra a year later.
The third generation featured was fine-tuned by Lotus Engineering, which Toyota owned at the time. It would also give rise to the sporty GT-S trim and yield the first WRC victory for the Celica. An all-wheel-drive GT-4 model would arrive for 1986, alongside the first front-wheel-drive Celica.
By 1988, the 190-horsepower All-Trac Turbo arrived, powered by a 2.0-liter four through a five-speed manual. And it had chops; the Celica had been running the Celica in GT racing in the GTO class since 1986.
Of course, most Celicas were far more pedestrian. By the time of its seventh generation, its 180-hp four was being used in the Lotus Elise. But all sports car sales were suffering by this point, even the vaunted Supra.
By 2006, the Celica would be dead. But that may soon no longer be the case.