Shed of the Week: Toyota Celica T-Sport 190


Bastion. This word, or one very much like it, is often heard in the Shed household. It is derived from the Italian word bastire, which means to build, and it means an institution, place, or person strongly maintaining particular principles, attitudes, or activities. It's often preceded by the word 'last' to describe a dying breed of some sort.


It would be fair to describe the Toyota Celica T-Sport 190 VVT-i as one of the last bastions of high-revving road cars. From back in the pre-forced induction days, when the only way to get decent horsepower from a smallish engine was by making it rev, this is a classic old-school screambox.

VVT-i stands for Variable Valve Timing with intelligence. Maybe it should have been called a VVT-ip, because you'll also need to exercise a fair bit of patience waiting for the peak torque to arrive at 6,800rpm. That's nothing, though: maximum power doesn't chime in until 7,600rpm or 7,800rpm, depending on which information source you choose to believe.

The noticeable surge of the VVT-i cam 'lift' effect should pop up at around 6,200rpm on a warm engine though. If it doesn't, the lift bolts could be duff. If it does, as it should do in later models like this 2004 example, which used stronger tapered bolts, you might be looking at rather a nice prospect.


We would never have found one of these blighters under our old £1,000 limit. This one only just managing to scrape under our new £1,500 limbo rope. The T-Sport was the penultimate 190 range-topper, with only a GT run-out model coming after it with half-leather seats, a weirdly-silled but otherwise quite purposeful bodykit, lower springs and new alloys. There might be a pic here, Nik permitting.

Pre-'02 140 VVTis with the 1ZZ engine (as seen in the MR2 and Avensis) achieved fame for their oval pistons and their liking for more than a drop of oil - as much as a litre every 600 miles. That wasn't a problem with the 190s. Some 2ZZ-engined 190s did suffer from terminal bottom-end failure - one PHer (JamStar) experienced this in this 2.5-year-old 40,000-miler - but you're much more likely to hear stories of excellent endurance, with 200,000 miles quite commonly coming up in the conversation. And that's without mollycoddling them. Our Shed has 135,000 miles on it and a very reassuring-looking MOT history.

Upping the power of any VVTi, 140 or 190, isn't as easy as it is with many other cars. They don't really respond to the usual exhaust/intake mods as the ECU is very strict about what it will allow to happen. Supercharging, however, is different. There's a Rotrex kit that is reputed to deliver a near-400hp curve.


If you organise a test drive and the gearbox seems reluctant to select second off the top of first, it's probably best to look at your watch and remember an important appointment elsewhere, as the synchro is on the way out and it's a gearbox rebuild.

If the alarm seems prone to going off, that's a common Celica problem, but it could have one of the simplest solutions known to the stingy Shedman. Simply remove any coins residing in the central cup holder. That should fix it. Seriously. Or be a proper Shedman and don't carry any coins anywhere, ever.

Many Celica issues only applied to earlier cars as it was diligently developed by Toyota to iron out any glitches. This is a 2004 car, which was effectively the end of the main Celica production push as far as we in the West were concerned. The supply of cars began to taper off at that point; there are a few '06 reg Celicas about, but there are none beyond 2006.

This is one of those cars where a sensation of tinniness is almost a good thing. It gives you the feeling that you're not too insulated from the outside world, which many might find to be a desirable attribute in a sporty (as opposed to a grand touring) coupé. For a front-drive car, the chassis is more than decent and the steering acceptably sharp, though the standard braking setup leaves something to be desired in terms of feel and power. It's easily remedied with decent pads though. Brake calipers can stick, but that's hardly uncommon in Japanese tackle.


The gen-7 Celica is quite a practical car too, with four seats and a reasonable boot. Boot struts gave up on early cars, as the hatch is pretty big, but in typical fashion Toyota acknowledged the problem and ran out replacement items under a Service Bulletin.

PHer Durbster had (and may still have) a 190. Back in 2013, which was the last time we ran one of these in SOTW, he made a few interesting comments about it. "It's quite good at lots of things, but I don't love it," he said. "It's quite fast, quite economical, quite practical, quite light and quite good fun but doesn't excel anywhere really.

"I do like the engine. It makes you work hard - with all those revs available and a narrow window of pace, you have to do a bit of a calculation before an overtake but it is a giggle. Taking it up to the redline is frantic fun and keeping it in the lift window is extremely difficult."

At the same time, another PH Celica owner (Dave_s13) answered a question that may be troubling other larger-framed potential owners, namely, "will I fit?". Dave was (and possibly still is) 6ft 4in tall and 100kg, some sort of rugbyist most likely, and he reckoned he fitted in his 190 no problem. Tall drivers will find the rear visibility a bit wanting, however, and drivers of every size should watch out for the big doors in multi-storey car parks.

If you'd like a GT86 but can't really afford one, a Celica 190 would not be such a bad value option judging by the comparative stats (Celica first): 190hp vs 197hp, 144lb ft v 151lb/ft, 1250kg v 1275kg. In fact, some even think that the old car looks better than the new one (dons tin hat and runs off hard).

Here's the ad.

OYOTA CELICA 190 T-SPORT VVTI .

JUST TAKEN IN PART EXCHANGE THIS WEEKEND WE ARE OFFERING THIS STUNNING VVTI CELICA FOR SALE.

135000 MILES FROM NEW , IT BENEFITS FROM AN MOT UNTIL THE 24TH SEPTEMBER 2018 AND HAS ALSO RECENTLY HAD 4 NEW KUMHO TYRES FITTED.

THE BODYWORK IS IN PRESENTABLE CONDITION OVERALL WITH A FEW MINOR SCATCHES/SCRAPES COMMENSURATE WITH THE AGE OF THE VEHICLE. IT IS VERY STRAIGHT AND LEVEL AND THERE IS NO MAJOR RUST IN ANY OF THE WHEELARCHES EITHER.

THE INTERIOR IS ALSO IN VERY GOOD CONDITION WITH NO DAMAGE OR RIPS/TEARS TO THE LEATHER.

THE CAR DRIVES VERY WELL OVERALL, THERE ARE NO OBVIOUS FAULTS AND NO WARNING LIGHTS ARE DISPLAYED EITHER.

THE CAR IS FULLY HPI CLEAR AND HAS ONLY HAD 4 OWNERS FROM NEW.

ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS PLEASE EITHER MESSAGE ME OR TELEPHONE ON 07962 376666.

THANKS FOR LOOKING

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (93) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Cambs_Stuart 15 Dec 2017

    Looks like a really good find. I didn't realise these had 4 seats, so could be considered a family car...

  • 2smoke 15 Dec 2017

    Blimey Shed, you're up early!
    Looks like a reasonable car for the money, with no doubt plenty of life left in it being a Toyota.
    Owner feedback anybody?

  • alorotom 15 Dec 2017

    Nice ... I’d say this is quite overpriced ... seen a handful end on eBay over the past week alone for under £500 ... hardly like this is a low mile minter to justify x3 pricing


  • SidewaysSi 15 Dec 2017

    alorotom said:
    Nice ... I’d say this is quite overpriced ... seen a handful end on eBay over the past week alone for under £500 ... hardly like this is a low mile minter to justify x3 pricing
    Really? Under £500 for a decent, roadworthy 190? Links please...

  • AndySheff 15 Dec 2017

    That's a decent looking shed.

View all comments in the forums Make a comment