Docair in his 1980 Toyota Celica GT Liftback

1980 Toyota Celica GT Liftback

by Jerry Docair Malkes

The Celica was the first Japanese model to claim the World Rally Championship crown. I was always in love with the styling of this Toyota from its conception in 1970 to its demise in 2005. The last car was produced at the end of April 2006 with seven variations or generations produced. The founder of the Toyota Motor Company was named Kiichiro Toyoda and that company was formed in 1937 with a capital equivalent to $35,000. The company has grown in leaps and bounds and that brings us to my 1980 Toyota Celica GT Liftback. This 1980 is called the second generation. With my late dad, Frank, I ordered the car from ABC Toyota in Valley Stream.

The vehicle took 8 weeks to arrive from Japan,but during that time, because of the great demand and poor supply, the price went up $2,000. The car was almost given to another person but because I had the wrong vehicle identification number (accidentally given by another salesman). However, I obtained the car. A quote from 1980 stated “Japanese cars have long since ceased being built primarily for their home market…with low price increases, going across the current trend, no wonder that cars of its breed are taking such big chunks of the American market.

The car has a tilt steering wheel, improved seat design, a new grill design, powered steering, a new rear light cluster, a tighter suspension for the GT (thanks to the addition of a rear anti-roll bar) and a full center console among other improvements over the preceding generation.

My Celica was originally bought as a work car but I enjoyed it so much I bought a Monte Carlo to take me to work.

1980 Toyota Celica GT Liftback rearview

1980 Toyota Celica GT Liftback

It has only 19,500 miles in 33 years. Original tires (thanks to being garaged with no ultraviolet rays), wipers,wiper fluid, carburetor, etc. My original battery lasted 18 years and the second lasted 15 years due to a trickle charge over the years. The Celica is a very rare vehicle and as someone on a website said “it deserves to be not in a garage, but in some museum. That is one reason why I love showing it at car events. The Toyota has won multiple awards and trophies but the biggest trophy I receive, is getting to know all the wonderful car-people I meet.

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  1. Great story! I have a 1984 celica supra, with 72000 miles and I thought I had low mileage. I love these cars. It seems that they aren’t respected enough. Maybe now since most have rusted away they will gain attention. Mine only has a bit of rust so i feel lucky.

    • Brandon, good luck with your 1984 Celica…..too bad the steel that they used is of such a poor quality. They were great little cars and maybe the new FT-1 will be called Celica, Regards, Jerry

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