Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

Throughout the 1990s, the Celica All-Trac was Toyota’s rally champion. Nearly thirty years later, we have one vying for a Nice Price or Crack Pipe win. Let’s see if its price makes it a champ here too.

The concept of value is a funny thing. As example, you wouldn’t consider any first-gen Chevy Cavalier sedan to be worth $33,900. I don’t care how nice it might be. However, replace “Chevy Cavalier” with Lotus Evora and there will likely be much to debate.

That was just the challenge that faced us last Friday, with a 2010 Lotus Evora on the offer. That one came with a $33,900 asking as well as a few chinks in its armor. The apparent side-swipery didn’t seem to dissuade the majority, and the car took home a narrow but laudable 54 percent Nice Price win.

The Lotus Evora used a Toyota V6 and six-speed to make its magic happen. It’s an interesting choice for the British company to have made seeing as Toyota doesn’t really promote their drivetrains as performance powerhouses these days. Hell, both the 86 and the new Supra sports cars carry engines from other manufacturers—Subaru and BMW, respectively.

That’s not a stellar endorsement for Toyota’s own engines, but it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, Toyota has a string of high-performance engines notched on its corporate bedpost. Not only that, but the company once used them to power their very own, very aggressive machinery.

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A fine example of that is this 1990 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo.

The Celica was at one time Toyota’s entry into the small personal coupe market, sort of like a mini-Mustang. Along the way the model switched from getting its scoot by way of RWD to that of being a FWD puller. Yes, boo.

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That may have been okay for anyone happy with just talking the talk. It was less so however, for those who also wanted to rock the rock. Enter the All-Trac Turbo—or GT-Four in certain markets. That was an AWD rally-bred Celica that addressed the FWD Celica’s somewhat lackluster performance bonafides. It also was once of the more bad-ass looking Celicas to hit the streets.

With a 200 horsepower 3S-GTE turbo four under its be-scooped hood, the second generation ST185 Alltrac Turbo didn’t just walk the walk. It was the base for a rally ride that won Toyota trophies.

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In the street car, the turbo DOHC four wore its air to air intercooler like a hat, sucking cooling air through that functional scoop. A five speed manual directed the resultant ponies to a full-time AWD system with a viscous center diff for as-needed torque proportionment. That was all wrapped in aggressive bodywork unique to the All-Trac, and necessitated by the car’s wide wheels and tough persona.

This one comes in Super Red over a black leather interior. It also comes with a somewhat incongruous description. The seller claims explicitly in the ad’s opening that the car presents as “never messed with, everything works all intact.” He then goes on to list a litany of replaced or upgraded parts, many of them pretty major.

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Let’s start with the engine. The car does not carry its original mill. Instead it’s rocking what’s described as a “gen 2 JDM swap with s205 trans, bltz access ecu upgrade, forge blow off valve.” That all sounds pretty good, and it’s noted that the clutch was replaced when the driveline was refreshed. Still, that’s not the extent of the changes. There’s also a replacement steering rack, an aftermarket radiator, short shifter, coilovers, and a literal big-ass fart can out back. The most alarming note is the removal of the catalytic converter with a straight pipe.

I’d hate to think of what the seller considers “messed with.”

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Regardless, the car looks pretty clean on the outside. Aftermarket wheels underpin and in my opinion actually look a little better than the factory alloys. The paint is shiny and all the badging looks intact. There’s 130,000 miles on the car, and what’s said to be 50K on the swap. Whether that means the drivetrain was done at 80K or had 50K on it when it was installed is up in the air.

The interior is described a “10” although there’s a length of black tape on the passenger seat, which one would guess is there to cover a tear. A-pillar gauges tell you things, and there’s a modern single DIN head unit in the dash. A pair of rearview-hung trees fight for your olfactory attention.

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This All-Trac’s seller says you’ll never find one this clean, and a quick look around implies that he may be right. Most ST185s on the market today are fright pigs. In contrast, this one presents as both tidy and turn-key. What might that be worth?

The asking is $16,500. That brings you everything we just reviewed as well as a good bit of Toyota’s rallying history. It’s now up to you to decide if each is of equatable value.

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What do you think, is this messed with but not “messed with” All-Trac Turbo worth that $16,500 asking? Or, is that just messed up?

You decide!

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Albany, NY Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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