More than a few people are bummed that when the Scion FR-S got a Toyota badge, it didn’t get the name Celica name to go with it. The Celica nameplate has always meant fun on the cheap, and now a decade into the used market, that’s more true than ever.
I think the last Celica is a bit of an underrated vehicle. The seventh-generation and final Celica was around from 1999 to 2006, and when I was a younger man really into cars and from a Toyota-prone family, I was a fan of its striking looks.
In GT-S guise it only put out 180 horsepower and was front-wheel drive, but in the post-Supra era it and the MR2 Spyder were the only interesting car in the Toyota lineup for a good while. Listen: we took what we could get back then, before the WRX and the 350Z and others were things.
The biggest problem with the Celica was that it was kind of expensive when new, or at least on par with those last two cars but nowhere near their equal in performance. But as CarThrottle points out in this video, that’s not a problem today. Like the Acura RSX, or the Civic Si hatchback, it could be considered a worthy contender for any young buyer looking for an affordable, sporty car that they (probably) won’t kill themselves in.
A used Celica today means an adequate amount of power, a solid manual gearbox, respectable handling, looks that hold up and probably bulletproof Toyota reliability. It’s cheap and will get the job done. I’m shocked this thing isn’t more of an autocross fixture today.
A quick Cars.com search reveals you can find a ton of these things for well under $10,000, which I find to be a pretty solid value for everything you’re getting. It may not be the best sport coupe out there, or even the best Celica, but with age and depreciation it’s better than it ever was.