1982 XT Celica: Through rose coloured glasses

1982 XT Celica: Through rose coloured glasses

I was doing the annual new year cleanout when I stumbled on an official dealer brochure for my first brand new car. Boy, the memories come flooding back.

I hadn't thought about that car in a long time. It was a 1982 XT Celica in Silver Grey; I was king of the world in that thing. In my just post-pubescent mind that was a serious sports car. I mean, cmon, it had rear wheel drive, 5-speed manual, disc brakes (on the front anyway) and heaps of power!

What sealed the deal for me was the fact it had pop-up headlights, a first for the Australian market on a car accessible to regular people. Woah, high tech and in my brain that equalled exotic vehicle. Back then the only time you saw pop-up headlights were on Ferrari's or Lamborghini's.

I had a lot of fun in that car and thinking about it takes me to places and events like they were yesterday. It's one of the reason cars can be so special for some of us; music, movies and art can often have the same effect.

So I'm reading through this dealer brochure, and I couldn't help but have a bit of a laugh. It made me realise that time, life experience and technology has made my old XT Celica not even an also ran. Here's the opening pitch from the brochure verbatim:

"Gone are the days when the lion's share of a car's power was spent dragging it through the air. Celica takes aerodynamics to its logical conclusion, and cuts drag to new lows.

The power from Celica's big 2-litre engine is at your fingertips to command. Accelerate down the fast lane of the freeway or cruise at high-speed efficiency. Celica is the state-of-the-art with a surprising economy of operation.

Celica also goes a long way towards smoothing out the bumps in the road. MacPherson strut front suspension, the introduction of rack and pinion, plus 4-link, coil-spring suspension with stabiliser bar, all Toyota suspension tuned for the best speciality car ride and handling ever. (power steering option available on all models).

Roadholding is increased with 185/70HR 14 radials and stylish aluminium wheels even it tight cornering or high-speed cruising. Up front, you'll find the best in ventilated disc brakes. In the rear dependable rear brakes."

It seems massive displacement was 2-litres, and that state of the art power was a paltry 66kW @ 5000rpm. Sophisticated suspension, groan, it had a live rear axle, just like old Pop's ox cart! Reliable drum brakes, yes, they are, you can rely on them to fail if you use them too hard, too often! I wouldn't call 185 70 series radial tires on 14"inch rims the best tools for tight cornering or high-speed cruising either but apparently they were then!

The point of all this is, at the time I was convinced my XT Celica was everything the sales brochure was pushing and more; that I was commanding "2 litres of aerodynamic power".

I was the envy of all my friends in their simple clapped out Holden HQ Premier, Ford Falcon XB Futura or whatever big dog box sedan they were tooling about in. I was sure I could take them on in my high tech Japanese luxury econobox and win. It was "luxurious" to me but when you get down to it; it was a very basic car. It did have power windows, AM/FM radio cassette with equaliser, tilt-adjust steering wheel and lumbar support for the driver seat but that was about it.

Toyota listed the digital clock on the dash as a luxury feature, my how the times have changed.

I'm not sure how 0 to 100km/h taking 11 seconds (that's crap even for then) or thereabouts and a top speed of 172km/h flat out in 5th gear qualifies it as a sports car, but you couldn't tell me otherwise.

You know what; none of that matters, I loved that car, and I love it now. I don't want to take off my rose coloured glasses, remembering a car that I know is laughable by today's standards. 

If anything epitomises 80's wedge car styling, the 1882 XT Celica has to be it. I still reckon they look cool. Maybe I should get one; make it a project car, leave it looking entirely stock but swap out the drive train/running gear for something newer like the Toyota 86. That'd be great; wouldn't it?

2008 -2011 Volkswagen Passat Type 3CC
2013-2015 Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG Auto 4MATIC

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