Often overlooked, the almighty Toyota Celica GT-Four is a rally homologation car that spans three generations. The final generation, the ST205, is an amazing piece of automotive history that is remarkably affordable.
Turbocharged, all-wheel drive, a manual transmission, and Toyota reliability for how much?
A quick Cars and Bids search might take you by surprise. Legends of Japanese car culture like the Nissan Skyline, Toyota Supra, and Acura NSX are fetching eye-watering prices at auctions around the world. So, to see something relatively affordable is often quite surprising.
How affordable is relatively affordable, though? According to the past auction results, four different ST205 Celica GT-Four models have sold on Cars and Bids within the last year, and they’ve all been $18,000 or less. Additionally, two did not sell due to not meeting their reserve.
While nearly $20,000 may not seem like that great of a deal for a Toyota Celica from the mid-1990s, Toyota and rally enthusiasts alike will gladly tell you how wrong that assumption is.
What is a Celica GT-Four?
The Celica GT-Four, often stylized as GT4, is a road-going version of Toyota’s dominant rally car. These cars, like the Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, are homologation cars. The FIA dictates that manufacturers must have a road-going version of their rally car in order to be eligible to compete.
According to Hemmings, Toyota won four driver’s championships and two manufacturers’ championships in Group A rally between 1990 and 1994. All of which Toyota won with a Celica. It is worth noting, of course, that they were cheating the whole time. They used a clever wastegate system that allowed for the cars to effectively run unlimited power that was untraceable by tech inspections.
At any rate, their reign in rally brought us the road-going Celica GT-Four. We never got them in the US, but we can have them now thanks to the 25-year import rule. That means that a right-hand-drive, 225 horsepower turbocharged, all-wheel drive Toyota Celica can be all yours for less than $20,000.
Previous Celica GT-Four models rule, too.
The predecessors to the ST205, the ST165, and ST185, are also amazing cars. Just like the ST205, they are turbocharged, all-wheel drive, and have manual transmissions. Furthermore, both the ST165 and ST185 generations were available in the US. They are known as Celica All-Trac models. So, unlike the ST205, owners of JDM versions of these generations wouldn’t have a massive struggle involved with finding parts if something breaks.
Of course, these are old Toyotas. While they are not notorious for any major issues like Subaru’s WRX lineup, they are still prone to some failures simply due to age. However, there is a good chance we’re all right in the middle of a great lull that we may never see again when it comes to these awesome all-wheel drive Toyotas. Who knows? In the blink of an eye, these models, too, could be pulling six-figure numbers at auctions.
So, let’s say you’re in the market for a sweet JDM car but don’t have a massive budget to spend. You should definitely consider picking up a Celica GT-Four. After all, there aren’t many wild and exciting JDM imports left in the sub-$20,000 range. Of course, if you want all-wheel drive, you could import a right-hand-drive Honda CR-V. That’s…exciting.