The Truth About Cars has another Curbside Classic, one with which I have some familiarity: a middle-Seventies Toyota Celica.

The TTAC find is a ’74 in ST trim; to match it up with mine, you jump to ’75 — which bumps you up to the 20R engine, a 2.2-liter SOHC four, awfully hard to kill — and add the GT bits. At the time, the Celica was derided as a Japanese attempt at Mustangery, but given the general lameness of the Mustang II, it’s always seemed to me, and TTAC seems to agree, that Toyota did a better job of shrinking the ‘Stang than Ford did:

The original Mustang, especially a six with a stick, was much closer akin to the Celica than its 1973 namesake. And Toyota’s timing with the Celica was perfect, even more so a year later when the energy crisis hit. The drastically-downsized Mustang II was Ford’s acknowledgment that the Celica had it right. But by that time, the Celica had won over a lot of loyal fans, especially with its 1975 refresh and the very Mustang-esque Liftback.

Toyota was careful not to push the Celica as some sort of sports car, but it had as much of the look as the bean counters would permit: semi-fancy (albeit still steel) wheels, some sort of simulated woodgrain on the dash, and a nice snickety-snick stick to stir the gears. It took me seventeen years to kill this car, and actually, it wasn’t quite dead: the steering gear (a Benzish recirculating ball) had fragged, but the person to whom I sold it (for $100) put a few dollars into it and kept it going for another year, until it was T-boned by a peripatetic drunkard.

The one thing I never could explain about the car was the name: Dymphna is the patron saint of those of us whose brain functions are a little, or a lot, off-plumb. I suppose, had I decided to go for the cheap laffs, I could have called her Connie.


  1. Jeffro »

    26 August 2010 · 11:18 pm

    And then in the late seventies Toyota stuffed (longer hood) a six in place of the four, making the Celica a Supra. I never had one, but I did have the good fortune to drive a few examples. Nearly bulletproof and loads o’ fun.

  2. Mel »

    26 August 2010 · 11:47 pm

    My fiancee had a Celica along those lines, albeit a little later in the 70’s. It too was indeed hard to kill.

    And I’ve been waiting weeks for someone to use “peripatetic” in a sentence.

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