Stock #:

2165-CHA (R)

1981 Toyota Celica Sunchaser


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2165-CHA (R)
Engine Size
2.2 Liter 4
4 Speed Automatic
89,883 (Unknown)
Appointment Only
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or give us a call at (704) 598-2130

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The vintage car world just decided that Japanese cars are collectable by selling a Toyota 2000GT for more than $1 million. So now that they're on the list, how about something a little unique like this 1981 Toyota Celica Sunchaser? Not quite a convertible, it's still loads of fun that's also reliable and surprisingly economical.

The first neat factoid about this Celica is that it's rear-wheel-drive. Yes, that means it's actually fun to toss around corners and while everyone acts like the Japanese have just now discovered the fun of oversteer, this Celica proves that they've known about it all along. The Celica is kind of a junior muscle car, with rudimentary suspension and a chunky, stylish body, and in the Sunchaser iteration (actually built for Toyota by a subcontractor called Griffith), it has a lot of charm. Finding one this clean is some kind of miracle and the low-slung bodywork has aged quite well because it certainly doesn't look like a forgotten relic of the early '80s. The long hood/short deck styling works extremely well, and the targa-like roof means it's structurally sound while still offering the alfresco motoring experience. There's no notable rust on the body and it's quite possible that's factory paint, so while it's got some patina, I wouldn't change a thing. The rubber bumpers are still in good shape and all the trim and badges are still in place, suggesting a car that's led an easy life.

Bright blue inside is a pleasant surprise and looks great, reinforcing the Celica's sporty demeanor. Bucket seats with original seat covers (does anyone even make repros?) are still comfortable and the back seat looks hardly used. There's a nice set of analog gauges that cover all the vitals and a cool bull's eye style vent for the HVAC. All the controls are where you'd expect them and work properly, with a few handy storage bins throughout the interior. This Celica also sports what I have to believe is rather rare factory air conditioning, and the original 80s vintage radio is now a modern Kenwood AM/FM/CD/iPod unit that will be a great asset when you've got the top off and head out cruising. That unique and wonderful targa roof fits well, the folding rear section has clear windows, and it all seals up very well considering the design and the age. Heck, there's even a good-sized trunk in back!

A 2.4 liter inline-four provides reasonable performance, although it won't be mistaken for a V8. But given the car's light weight, it delivers spirited acceleration and doesn't seem to mind being driven hard. The 22R is legendary for its reliability, which shouldn't surprise you since this is a Toyota, and if you drive normally, it pulls down great gas mileage as well. The engine is unmodified and nicely maintained, with no signs of neglect or even age under the hood, because it's extremely clean. It's backed by a 4-speed automatic gearbox that gets the job done, and as I said, with a live axle out back and disc brakes, handling is quite entertaining. The alloy wheels are in great shape and wear newer 185/70/14 blackwall radials that look right.

This Celica is surely a future collectable. In the meantime, you can enjoy the virtues of thrift and reliability. Call today!

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  • AM/FM Radio
  • Air Conditioning
  • CD Player
  • Defrost
  • Front Disc Brakes
  • Heat
  • Power Brakes
  • Seatbelts
  • Targa Top
  • Vinyl Interior
  • iPod Compatible
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  • Owner's Manual
  • Title Documentation
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