Will Toyota Bring Back the Celica? The Company Chairman Wants It
If you’re a child of the 90s like I am, you probably remember the later years of the Toyota Celica. By the time Toyota’s “sportiest” car left us in 2005, it was already a shell of its former self. But company chairman Akio Toyoda wants to fix that.
Toyoda indicates desire to bring back the Toyota Celica
The information comes via the Toyota Times, Toyota’s internal newsletter, and includes an interview with Akio Toyoda under his racing name, “Morizo.” While taking in Rally Hokkaido, the Toyota Times asked the exec about a potential Toyota Celica revival.
It’s a back-and-forth exchange where, initially, Toyoda pushes off the line of questions, saying simply, “You’ll have to ask Toyota Motor about that, I’m not on the executive side.” But with a nudge from the interviewer, Akio relents, saying, “Well, I have (put in a request), but I don’t know what name it will come out under.”
That doesn’t sound like an ‘if’, but rather, a ‘when’, regarding a revamped Toyota Celica. However, Toyota’s internal politics mean that even a man in Toyoda’s position asking for something doesn’t guarantee an outcome. This cars-by-committee concept is what gave us the Toyota Crown and new Prius. Toyoda was on board with the Crown, but the Prius, he said, “was claimed by people who didn’t want to side with me.”
A strong hint that a new Celica is coming
Internal Toyota politics aside, it’s clear that Akio Toyoda wants a return to form for the Toyota Celica. Before its dying days as a lackluster, front-wheel drive coupe, the Celica enjoyed a rich racing history in the World Rally Championship.
WRC rules required a road-going version of each manufacturer’s rally car before they were allowed to compete. That gave us the Toyota Celica GT-Four beginning in 1986, while its rally racing counterpart hit the dirt in 1988. Just a year later, the Celica GT-Four ST165 took its first victory in the 1989 Rally Australia. Updated versions, like the ST205 , would continue racing until 1996, with drivers like Didier Auriol and Juha Kankkunen at the helm.
What does all that have to do with the return of the Toyota Celica? We’ll let Akio give you a hint; “I’m not just saying this because we’re at a rally event, but Kankkunen is Mr. Celica. He was our champion four times in the Celica. Now you can all have a think about why I’m using Kankkunen so much. See if you can guess!”
Will a new Toyota Celica actually happen?
It’s not new for Akio Toyoda to be bullish on a new sports car. He is the executive who famously declared, “no more boring cars” all the way back in 2017. Since then, we’ve gotten a new Toyota Supra, a surprisingly enjoyable TRD Camry, true off-road versions of the Toyota’s Tacoma, Tundra, 4Runner, and RAV4, a head-turning Prius with over 200 horsepower, and the super hot hatch GR Corolla. So there’s something to be said for Toyoda’s overall vision for the company. But there’s a problem.
In its day, the Celica became a legend thanks to its status as an affordable sports car. Toyota already has one in the GR86, and it became famous thanks to its roots in world rally – where the GR Corolla (Actually, GR Yaris, but we’ve already talked about that) cut its teeth before landing with more fanfare than a surprise Taylor Swift appearance.
So a new Celica, unfortunately, doesn’t have anywhere to live in Toyota’s current lineup. Unless, of course, the Japanese automaker wants a flashy name for its first electric sports car. As much as I’d love to see the name back for nostalgia’s sake, there just isn’t room at the inn. And since Toyoda himself can’t make these decisions, it’s hard to see this one coming to fruition.