Automotive Crush Of The Week: Toyota Celica GT-Four

Automotive Crush Of The Week: Toyota Celica GT-Four

Over on the BangShift forums there is a great thread titled “So what car do you want today?”. Started by our own Charles Wickam, this thread is full of photos of vehicles, some common and some not, that my fellow automotive-obsessed Bangshifters happen to be lusting over at that particular moment in time. Not a bad way to kill some time, so check it out when you have the chance.

My current automotive crush for this week (Perhaps better phrased as “my current crush for Monday morning” as I seem to develop a new car crush more frequently than a teenage boy sneaking his first peak at a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue) is the Toyota Celica GT-Four, or Celica “Turbo All-Trac” as sold in the United States. More specifically, I’m in puppy love with both the ‘86-89 and ’90-93 variants, or ST165 and ST185 as they’re often referred to as.

So what the heck is an ‘All-Trac’, and why should I care?

Unless you happened to be A) One of our European Bangshifters or B) An American dedicated enough to follow rallying in the 80s and 90s, the above question is undoubtedly the first one to come to mind, which is more than fair. Unlike the Subaru Impreza WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Toyota’s homologation cars for the general public never received the same recognition in the United States as the Subies and Evos, which is a bit of a shame really as on the rally stage they were quite brilliant, winning a good number of World Rally Championship series, many of which were thanks to Carlos Sainz.


Back to the homologation cars: Much like NASCAR and the SCCA Trans Am Series, a certain number of road-going cars needed to be produced for a manufacturer to run in particular Groups of World Rally Championship racing. I’m personally a big proponent of this rule for racing series, as without it we never would have the street versions of the Superbird/Daytona siblings, Boss 302 Mustangs, or Monte Carlo Aerocoupes, let alone the more exotic Japanese and European examples (Ferrari 250 GTO, anyone?). Unlike the WRX and Evo, which didn’t see US shores until the early 2000s, Toyota actually was lacking enough of an understanding of the US market bold enough to bring over a few of the Celica GT-Fours, or “Celica Turbo All-Trac” as it was known here.

This is an ST165. Not going to win any beauty contests, but the AWD and turbo 2.0L are a blast.

This is an ST165. You can call it ugly but it’s beautiful in its own way, and the AWD and 2.0L turbocharged engine are a blast.


This is the ST185, or second generation car. Little better looking and a little more horsepower.

This is the ST185, or second generation car. Arguably better-looking (Although I prefer the ST165) and a little more horsepower.

This is the ST205, which didn't make it over to the US.  While it makes 240+ horsepower, the nose of the car looks like something out of an H.P. Lovecraft novel.

This is the ST205, which didn’t make it over to the US. While it makes 240+ horsepower, the front end of the car looks like something out of an H.P. Lovecraft novel.

If you’re guessing that the All-Trac sold about as well as hot dogs at a Vegan picnic, come on up and collect your prize: Toyota claims to have produced about 26,000 of the first two generations of this car for worldwide consumption, but only a few thousand of each were actually sold in the US. That, in combination with the fact that the majority of the ones that did make it to the US have either rotted away or were thrashed harder than a rented mule, it’s pretty rare to find an All-Trac on the road, let alone one in decent condition.

But that’s enough of a history lesson, let’s get to why I want one:

Unlike the Audi Ur-Quattro, which was offered here but is super-rare and uber expensive, or the early WRXs and Evos, which I would have to build from a weak-sauce naturally aspirated 93-01 Subaru Impreza or even lamer Mitsubishi Mirage, the Celica All-Trac came here fully equipped with the same 190-200 horsepower (Depending on the year) 2.0L turbo engine, AWD system, and five-speed manual transmission that the rest of the world got. This, along with a bottomed-out market value makes it the cheapest and easiest way to find myself behind the wheel of a homologation version of a classic rally car, which in itself is pretty awesome. I’ll take mine in white, thank you very much.


Sure, it makes less power than your wife’s minivan, but can your wife’s minivan do this?


And that, my fellow BangShifters, is my automotive crush of the week.

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16 thoughts on “Automotive Crush Of The Week: Toyota Celica GT-Four

  1. John T

    my wife has an ST162 sitting up her drive (same as ST165 but FWD only) that could do with a freshen up but its all there – if you’re in Australia 500 bucks would grab it….years ago I picked up an ST165 that had a mild t bone for cheap – bought a rear quarter, door, glass and everything else needed for a couple hundred bucks, put it all together in the driveway and made a very nice profit on it…

  2. GuitarSlinger

    Yeah … if I could of tracked down an unmolested one [ a major feet in and of itself these days ] I’d of bought one in a heart beat . Any of them . They’re all good . More drivable on a daily basis than the WRX or the EVO . Much more solid as well . A winner Toyota should of never given up on … evolving it instead of dumping it .. as well as its WRC program … all for a successive string of failures in F1 and LeMans … and now the ToyotaRu SoburOta thing

    And yeah … I’ve been a Yank Rally fan since the late 60’s * right up till the end of the Toyota Mitsubishi Subaru Ford wars in WRC … rallying now becoming a bit too much show and not nearly enough sport … 😉

    * Rallying did have a presence in the North East gearheads minds .. even in the early 60’s

  3. Greenjunk

    Brian Lohnes may have some interesting information about an st-165 race car that may have competed in a NASA rally last weekend…. This blog made me laugh so hard when i saw it….

    1. Dave Nutting Post author

      Oh really! Haven’t talked to Brian all weekend since he was busy in California with the March Meet. I’ll have to give him a call when he lands later today.

      1. Greenjunk

        Don’t want to spoil it by putting up the info if he is going to use my material. email me your contact info and i’ll send you an entire days worth of video to look at… [email protected]

  4. Greenjunk

    Also the celica left the rally scene because they got busted for cheating. They were using the inlet clamp on the turbo to by pass the inlet restrictor. when the clamp was loose for inspection the restrictor would test ok. When they would put the inlet tube back on and tighten the clamp it would open up the restrictor and let air around. Meaning they would make a full 25psi of boost all the way through the power band instead of just from 2500-4500

      1. Greenjunk

        but it also gets your car banned by the wrc. thats rumored to be the reason they went to corolla after that, then they went away

  5. jerry z

    When the Celica went FWD in 1986, it was a death sentence in my book. I’m a big fan of the Celica GTS they built in the mid-80’s.

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