Rumor: Celica Returning to Toyota?

Riding Speculation: Japanese Automaker’s Strategy

Toyota Times, the magazine created by the automaker, has reflected on the incredible record of success of the Celica in rallying. Reminiscing about the past successes is nothing novel but, in this case, the company used it to respond to questions surrounding a current hypothetical return of the nameplate.

We are nostalgically taking a step back to the 4th and 5th generations of the Toyota Celica, which utterly dominated their era’s rally circuit. The 4th Celica model first appeared in ’85 and featured its conversion from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. Right after, in 1986, the GT-Four debuted; one that was powered with a turbo motor and boasting full-time 4-wheels drive capacity known as the ST165.

The ST165 introduced itself to the World Rally Championship calls (the WRC) back in 1988. Juha Kankkunen from Finland became its first triumphant racer on the 1989 Rally Australia.

In the 1990 rally season, Toyota reigned supreme as they notched up five victories. The pinnacle of this success came when Carlos Sainz won the drivers’ championship in his ST165. Audi Team Sport’s Sainz, who currently competes in the Dakar Rally, replicated this feat in 1992 in the revamped ST185. This new model boasted a more powerful engine and improvements to its suspension.

Kankunnen’s coming back to Toyota in 1993 proved to be a fruitful endeavour, resulting in the Japanese car company achieving its long-aspired-to title in the manufacturers’ sphere with only three contests left to go that season. This victory represented Japan’s first manufacturers’ championship since the World Rally Championship’s foundation in 1973; it was also the year where Kankunnen snagged the fourth title in his drivers’ career.

The ST185 returned in the 1994 campaign, claiming both the drivers’ and constructors’ crowns. Ex-French rally racer Didier Auriol had the highest placing in the rankings.

Yet, the spin of misfortune came when the Celica was supplanted by the ST205 the following year. The car was very hard to tune and engineers bumbled in altering the turbo confiner, bringing about Toyota’s ejection from the WRC amid 1995 season, in this way, awarding Colin McRae his main and only drivers’ title in a Subaru Impreza. Subsequently, Toyota was forced to bear a break during the 1996 season, while the Corolla went up against the challenge in 1997.

It could be a delight to witness the Toyota Celica make a reappearance after its astounding course in the rally scene. After all, Akio Toyoda, the ex-CEO and present president of Toyota, expressed his desire to see the label come back. Yet he also made clear that it is down to President Koji Sato where the decision will ultimately lie.

In any event, should the Celica materialize, it’ll pair its gasoline-powered siblings, the GR86 and GR Supra, as part of Toyota’s family of sporty vehicles. Considering Toyota’s current trend towards electrification around the world, it isn’t unthinkable for a completely battery-powered Celica variant to show up eventually.

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