1981 Toyota Celica Sport Coupe

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.

1981 Celica and Celica Supra poster, courtesy of Flickr user Alden Jewell.

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 ratings slightly to 25 city/35 highway (22/32 by 2018 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 exterior and mechanical equipment on the Celica ST ($6,699 or about $19,900 in today’s dollars) included electronic ignition, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 185/70R14 steel-belted radial tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch wheels. Inside, reclining front bucket seats, “cut pile wall-to-wall carpeting,” and an FM radio were included.

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.

1000 views badge

Optional equipment included air conditioning, a sunroof, and power steering. Aluminum alloy wheels, a rear window defogger, and cruise control were GT only options.

Celicas of this generation sometimes come up for sale in Hemmings Motor News and eBay Motors, but there were none for sale when I updated this post in July 2021. In August 2020, Bring a Trailer sold a Silver 1981 Celica GT with gray plaid bucket seats for $5,700.

Updated July 2021. In June 2020, Autopolis published a typically thoughtful post on the second-generation Celicas.


1981 Chevrolet Citation X-11 hatchback coupe

I walked past a small junkyard in Philadelphia yesterday. A maroon Citation X-11 was recognizable though not really well-preserved, but it did encourage me to finally publish this blog post.

“It gives you goose bumps.”

Chevrolet’s Citation X-car is now known mostly for being constantly recalled, but there were some positive points. The sporty X-11 version was a definite glimmer of hope.

The Citation X-11 was built around a specific engine for its entire life. For 1981, the $1,498 X-11 package featured the LH7 2.8 liter/172 ci “HO” V6 with Rochester Varajet II 2SE two-barrel carburetor, making 135 bhp, instead of the 110 bhp that the “generic” LE2 V6 made in other Citations. Upgrades from the LE2 to the LE7 included a higher compression ratio (8.9:1 versus 8.5:1). The standard transmission was the four-speed manual with a three-speed automatic optional. The four-speed along with the X-11‘s specific axle ratio was good enough to give a 0-60 time of around 8.5 seconds.

Other changes for 1981 were the addition of a hood bulge and aluminum alloy wheels. The X-11 also received power brakes and the F41 Sport Suspension, which featured revised shock absorbers, stiffer anti-roll bars, and P215/60R14 tires (a size still available thanks to BFGoodrich and Riken). Inside was an instrument panel that included a five-gauge cluster, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, and cloth bucket seats. Exterior X-11 specific appearance items included a black grill and body accents, sport mirrors, and a rear spoiler.

X-11 page from the 1981 Chevrolet Citation brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on every Citation included front wheel drive, rack-and-pinion steering, front disc/rear drum brakes, and a Delco Freedom Battery II. Inside, dual-speed electric windshield wipers, sliding door locks, locking glove compartment, and a Delco AM push-button radio with two front speakers were all included.

Options available included air conditioning ($585), cruise control ($123), intermittent wipers ($41), rear defogger ($107), and tilt steering wheel ($81).

X-11‘s do sometimes show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, but, as I write this in February 2014, there are none for sale.

Make mine Silver Metallic, please.