We do requests on Eighties Cars, whether or not they are definitive ones. A friend of mine mentioned his 1981 Celica in one of the forums I frequent, and that was enough inspiration for me.
“The Ultimate Toyota.”
1981 was the final model year for the second-generation Toyota Celica which had debuted in 1978. Despite this, there were some significant changes, including a new engine.
The Celica’s new engine for 1981 was the 22R 97 bhp 2.4 liter/144 ci inline four with a two-barrel carburetor. Paired with a five-speed manual transmission, fuel economy was an impressive 25 city/37 highway by the standards of the day (22/34 by today’s standards). Choosing the optional four-speed automatic transmission dropped economy slightly to 25 city/35 highway (22/32 by 2014 standards). With a curb weight of a little over 2,400 pounds, 0-60 times were in the mid nine-second range—respectable for 1981.
The Celica Sport Coupe was available in ST and GT trim levels. Standard equipment on the Celica ST ($6,699 or about $19,900 in today’s dollars) included electronic ignition, an FM radio, reclining front bucket seats, “cut pile wall-to-wall carpeting,” power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 185/70R14 steel belted radial tires (a size still readily available).
Moving up to the GT ($7,429 or about $22,100 in 2018 dollars) added features such as tungsten halogen high beams, styled steel wheels, dual outside mirrors, a dressed up instrument panel and console, a locking gas cap, and an AM/FM/MPX stereo with four speakers.
Optional equipment included air conditioning, a sunroof, and power steering. Aluminum alloy wheels, a rear window defogger, and cruise control were GT only options.
Updated December 2018.