Of all the 1990s homologation specials out there, the Toyota Celica arguably deserves more attention than it gets. Compared to the Japanese performance icons, the car is feels under appreciated - especially when you consider that it was as true to form as any.
First and foremost, it delivered four drivers’ titles between 1990 and 1994, and while a one-year ban for Toyota in 1995 for the use of illegal turbo restrictors somewhat diluted the model’s success, few doubted its inherent pace and capabilities. The competition model was a deserving legend.
And with the regulations of 1990s WRC requiring cars to share a significant portion of their technical makeup with road versions, a quick rally variant very often translated into something special on the road. The early Celica GT-Four Rally ST185 was a prime example, although the greatest from the early 90s was the JDM GT-Four RC, the road-going homologation version of championship winner Carlos Sainz’s rally car.
Production volumes of the JDM-only model had to hit 5,000 examples to meet FIA regulations and it built on the 225hp 2.0-litre turbo-powered ST185 base with a water-to-air intercooler, a redesigned bonnet vent for enhanced aerodynamics and lighter bodywork. It also got a short-shift gear lever, a competition clutch and triple cone synchromesh on second and third gears, to enable faster changes.
As a WRC homologation car, all Celica GT-Fours got a full-time four-wheel drive system with a viscous coupling limited slip differential in the centre, while top models got a Torsen rear differential as well. Combine those ingredients with pop-up headlights and a short coupe bodyshape and it’s not hard to see why so many fell for the Celica.
Toyota really got into its stride when the following sixth-generation Celica arrived in 1994. Power from the 3S-GTE four-pot engine was up to 255hp for JDM versions of the ST205 – cars to reach Australia and Europe (including the UK) had 242hp – and the 2,500 cars built for Group A homologation came with an anti-lag system, water injection and an extra intake on the bonnet to keep powertrain performance on the boil.
The result was a 1.3-tonne two-door with proper 1990s styling (look at that rear wing!), enough boost to sprint from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds and the ability pull four-wheel drifts on demand. Only 300 examples of the ST205 made it to Europe, although a few JDM imports have followed to bolster the numbers. Still, just 30 GT-Fours are currently registered in the UK (according to HowManyLeft), less than a tenth of what existed here in 2001.
Today’s Spotted might increase that number to 31 because it’s a Japanese import that comes with all the usual claims of no rust and an immaculate underside. It’s a late 1998 model, the Final Revision, so comes in bells and whistles specification with the maximum 255hp JDM output, uprated suspension and bigger brakes. It also got a larger rear wing, side skirts and different bumpers.
This 65k-mile-old car appears to be absolutely immaculate inside and out, with white wheels you could eat your dinner off and seats that look like they’ve never been sat in. Heck, we even like the Playstation back window tints. For someone after a genuine 1990s WRC experience that’s still very slightly leftfield, look no further.
SPECIFICATIONS – TOYOTA GT-FOUR ST205
Engine: 1,998cc, 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 5-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 255@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 224@4,000rpm
First registered: 1998 (JDM)
Recorded mileage: 65,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £16,495
See the original advert here.