Toyota Celica
(1994 - 1999)

  • Superb reliability and longevity (if maintained)
  • Good levels of practicality
  • Typical Toyota build quality
  • Not commonly purchased by hoons so hopefully a safe history
  • Does not come close to meeting modern safety standards
  • Not overly sporty for a sports car
  • Finding a good one may be a challenge
  • High potential for crash damage
Overview

It’s been 15 years since the Celica bowed out of the market, leaving behind a wildly varied seven generations that kicked off in 1971 and went on to underpin a rich (and occasionally) infamous motorsport providence stretching from WRC to Bathurst production car victories and Pikes Peak Hill Climbing.

While less heroic than Supra nor as sporty as MR2, Toyota’s everyman/everywoman sport coupe once enjoyed major widespread appeal: well over four million units sold globally, some 112,000 in Australia. Despite some tasty rally-bred homologation GT-Four specials (ST165/ST185/ST205), more pedestrian versions have (as yet) failed to muster up much of a cult following with car fans. And thus, used Celicas have become one of the thriftiest choices for cheap used sport coupe.

And none riper for the picking or leaner on the hip pocket than the sixth-generation ‘S200’, the inimitable ’90s Celica sold local between early 1994 and replaced by the sharply chiseled ‘S230’ seventh generation by the turn of the century. Toyota Australia puts total gen-six sales at 10,994 units.

Our staple version was the ST204R series, a three-door liftback powered by the 2.2-litre naturally aspirated 5F-SE four driving the front wheels through a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed auto transmissions. The ‘S200’ gen was also sold as a two-door coupe or convertible in various overseas markets.

It launched in high ZR trim from around $43k and was joined, in 1995, by an entry SX guise some eight-grand cheaper. Its 100kW and 196Nm was, for its day, not too shabby, though its somewhat leisurely nine-second amble to 100km/h from a standstill wasn’t much to write home about.

Still, at around 1200kg, there’s not much to the sixth-gen Celica: you still had to option air-conditioning, even on the ZR, though cruise control, CD player and dual airbags were standard fitment in top spec. (Airbags were optional on SX). Its light weight made for a reasonably sporty vibe and a modicum of athletic ability in the corners, even if the most bulbous Celica in history failed to drum up kudos as a proper driver’s machine.

Towards the S200’s twilight, in 1998, a mid-grade SX-R joined the Celica fray, essentially the base SX with a smattering of tart-ups, including red/black interior styling. However, the six-generation didn’t enjoy much evolution under its curvaceous skin throughout its lifecycle. A handful – some 77 examples – of pukka ST205 GT-Four Rallyes made it to Oz in 1994, more than a few ending up as Toyota dealership principals’ ‘demonstrators’ and are now prized, big-dollar collectibles.

The regular ST204R is vastly humbler. While not as collectable as earlier models or nearly as sharp – in all senses – as its feisty seventh-gen 140kW ST230 replacement, the regular sixth-gen machinery makes for a fairly interesting, reasonably stylish used wallet-buster.

Second hand? More likely fourth, or sixth, or eleventh. Later-day ’90s Celica are unicorns in anything like fit condition and there’s fair chance a budding new custodian will inherent the past ‘crimes’ of owners past. Few will have been babied, solid servicing histories will be veritable crap-shoots, and many examples still on the road will have lapped Planet Earth more than a handful of times. You have been warned…

Read on for tips on how to arm oneself on safari to unearth a decent example of Toyota’s sporty buck-banging liftback coupes. Or what sort of potential horrors might await eager tyre-kickers.

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What goes wrong
  • Look for rust. Make sure to check the sills, especially where the door meets the front wing, the wheel arches, the exhaust, be sure to inspect underneath the car and check the underbody. Also look around the windows and windscreen, under the bonnet and in the boot, be sure to lift up the carpets in the boot for signs of rust as well.
  • Make sure to check for accident damage and repair work carried out incorrectly or poorly. E.g check that the panel gaps are accurate, the paint matches in colour and texture and there is no over spray in the engine bay or under the wheel arches.
  • Interior trim can fall apart of peal from door cards however, this is easily fixed.
  • Drivers seats are most likely beginning to show their age with torn materials, again, easily fixed.
  • Mechanically there are no “common” issues or faults as such but it is critical that a car of this age (and most likely very high mileage) has a full and thorough service history.
  • It’s important to understand that buying a car of this vintage will require regular maintenance and expect to replace items such as suspension struts/shock absorbers, clutches, brakes and general consumables on a potentially regular basis.
  • It is critical to know when the timing belt has been replaced. If there is any doubt on when the timing belt was last replaced, replace it immediately. A broken timing belt generally equates to engine failure which to repair, may cost more than the car.
Check out some of our other Cheat Sheets
Model range, pricing and features

SX

  • Price when new: $34,790 - $40,500
  • Price used: $2,500 - $7,200

The SX is the base/entry level model into the Celica range.

Features were comfort orientated such as power steering, electric windows & mirrors and a velour seating trim.

Air conditioning could be added as an option, as could a driver airbag (or a dual driver and passenger airbag package in the Series II models), cruise control or an electric sunroof.

Our pick would be looking at a Series II ZR model, given there are more comfort and safety features available such as climate control, ABS and dual airbags.

Standard features:

  • Remote central locking
  • Front disc brakes (ventilated)
  • Rear disc breaks
  • Power steering
  • Electric windows
  • Electric mirrors
  • Velour seating trim
  • Four speaker sound system with radio and cassette player
  • Alarm

T200 Series II updates:

  • Black woven seat fabric with red/grey highlights (from June 1998)

Team Europe Edition

  • Price when new: $38,500 - $40,500
  • Price used: $3,400 - $7,500

Released in November 1994, the limited-run Team Europe Edtion was based on the SX model, however it featured designs and livery cues from the GT-Four Group A Rallye special edition model.

In addition to the SX:

  • Special designs from the GT-Four Group A Rallye special edition model.
  • Rear spoiler
  • Driver’s airbag

SX-R

  • Price when new: $36,090 - $38,110
  • Price used: $3,500 - $22,000

The SX-R was a limited edition model to mark the end of the T200 generation Celica, and was introduced in November 1998 and was available until January 1999.

The SX-R was based off the SX and offered more comfort-orientated features such as: a CD player, cruise control, front fog lamps and a leather wrapped steering wheel.

As with the SX, air conditioning and a dual airbag option was available as an option.

In addition to the SX:

  • 15-inch alloy wheels
  • Front fog lamps
  • Cruise Control
  • Leather steering wheel
  • CD player
  • Unique seat trim with red highlights
  • White-faced instrument cluster

GT-Four Group A Rallye

  • Price when new: $81,860
  • Price used: $15,000 - $60,000

Released in May 1994, and based on SX model, the GT-Four Group A Rallye was a limited run model imported by Toyota Australia. It featured the 35-GTE turbocharged engine, full time AWD and a Torsen limited slip rear differential. Only 77 vehicles were imported into Australia.

In addition to the ZR:

  • All wheel drive system
  • Limited slip differential
  • 16-inch alloy wheels

ZR

  • Price when new: $40,000 - $46,030
  • Price used: $4,000 - $9,000

The ZR model was the top of the range Celica and featured a variety of design, comfort and safety features.

The Series II update introduced in November 1995 brought more comfort and safety-orientated features like climate control, ABS and a front passenger airbag.

In addition to the SX:

  • 15-inch alloy wheels
  • Rear spoiler
  • Front fog lamps
  • Driver’s airbag
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Front sport seats
  • CD player

T200 Series II updates:

  • Climate control air conditioning
  • Front passenger airbag
  • Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
  • Six speaker sound system with digital sound processing (from June 1998)
Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

3 year/100,000 kilometre warranty

Servicing:

6 months/10,000km

Tech specs

Body style:

  • 2-door coupe

Engine & outputs:

  • 2.2-litre four-cylinder petrol (SX, ZR, SX-R, Team Europe Edition)
  • 2.2-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol (GT-Four Group A Rallye)

Power:

  • 100kW (2.2L four-cylinder petrol)
  • 178kW (2.2L turbo four-cylinder petrol)

Torque:

  • 196Nm (2.2L four-cylinder petrol)
  • 302Nm (2.2L turbo four-cylinder petrol)

Transmissions:

  • 5-speed manual front-wheel-drive (2.2L 4-cylinder petrol)
  • 4-speed automatic front-wheel-drive (2.2L 4-cylinder petrol)
  • 5-speed manual all-wheel-drive (2.2L turbo 4-cylinder petrol)

Fuel use:

  • 6.0L – 11.5L/100km (combined and depending on variant)

Dimension:

  • Height: 1305mm
  • Length: 4425mm
  • Width: 1750mm
  • Kerb weight: 1125kg – 1390kg (depending on variant)
Disclaimer

Information correct as of October 15, 2021.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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