Can’t Afford an Acura Integra Type R? Buy a 2000 Toyota Celica GT-S Instead

There’s no denying that the Acura Integra Type R has skyrocketed in value over the past few years, but if you can’t afford one, then Toyota Celica GT-S could be a great substitute. The Celica was one of the automaker’s sportiest cars and best-selling coupe. And you can now get one at a really good bargain.

The last Toyota Celica nameplate stayed true throughout the years

a top view of the 2003 Toyota Celica GT-S
2003 Toyota Celica GT-S | Toyota

RELATED: The Celica GT4 Is a Toyota Rally Racer You Can Actually Own

The Toyota Celica first appeared in the market in 1970 as the Japanese automaker’s answer to the Ford Mustang at the time. According to Top Speed, the original Celica GT was outfitted with a high-performance 1.6-liter, dual-carbureted engine in addition to underbody spoilers, hood flutes, and a GT front grille. That type of attention to performance and sporty upgrade carried through to the seventh, and final, generation of the Celica.

Beginning in the year 2000, the last-generation Toyota Celica featured a cab-forward design with plenty of sharp angles and futuristic curves. It came in two different trim levels: GT and GT-S. The latter of which was powered by a high-performance 1.8-liter 2ZZ engine that produced 180 hp at 7,600 rpm, thanks to its VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with lift intelligence) system. At the time, this front-drive, high-RPM sporty coupe rivaled other cars of the same configuration, namely the Acura Integra Type R.

a shot of the 2003 Toyota Celica GT-S engine
2003 Toyota Celica GT-S | Toyota

RELATED: Report: Toyota Bringing Back the Celica as a Hydrogen EV

The Toyota Celica put up a good fight with Integra Type R

If you’re unfamiliar with the Acura Integra Type R, you just need to understand that its mysterious aura is fortified mainly in its rarity and its engine compartment. The reason the Type R is so highly regarded and coveted is its high-revving, 195-hp 1.8-liter engine that’s mated to a slick-shifting five-speed manual transmission.

It also has the fancy footwork to complement that power including a stiffer suspension than that normal Integras, larger disc brakes, and a front and rear strut brace. MotorTrend was able to get the Integra Type R up to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds and down the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds, which was pretty quick for a front-drive coupe at the time.

2003 Toyota Celica GT-S interior
2003 Toyota Celica GT-S | Toyota

The 2000 Toyota Celica GT-S, on the other hand, had the same type of configuration. The GT-S model had a high-revving engine under its hood, a six-speed manual transmission, and a revised suspension and braking system over the normal Celica GT.

MotorTrend was able to get the Celica GT-S from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds and down the quarter-mile in 15.2 seconds. And while it wasn’t quite as quick as the Integra Type R, the Celica was still fun to drive and it provided decent interior and cargo space, thanks to its hatchback configuration.

How much does a 2000 Toyota Celica GT-S cost now?

A nationwide search on Cargurus turned up around 10 different Toyota Celica GT-S models for sale in the 2000 to 2005 range. Many were selling for well under $10,000 and we even found a clean, low-mileage example priced at $6,000.

That’s far below the current Integra Type R values, most of which typically sell for around $20,000 to $30,000 and even higher, according to Bring a Trailer. If you’re looking for a sporty, front-drive coupe that will give you feelings of nostalgia from the early 2000s, but you don’t want to break the bank, check out a 2000-2005 Toyota Celica GT-S.  

2003 Toyota Celica GT-S rear shot
2003 Toyota Celica GT-S | Toyota