Toyota Stirs Rumors Of Toyota Celica Revival

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The Japanese automaker sure knows how to ride the wave of speculations.

Toyota Times, the automaker's in-house magazine, has looked back at the Celica's prestigious rallying achievements. While reminiscing past victories isn't new, Toyota's trip down memory lane was actually its response to current rumors of the nameplate's return.

Particularly, we are brought back to the time of the fourth-gen and fifth-gen Toyota Celica, which ruled the rally stage of its time. The fourth-gen Celica was launched in 1985, which saw the switch from rear-wheel to front-wheel drive. The GT-Four was introduced a year later, combining a full-time four-wheel drive system with a turbo engine. This also birthed the model code ST165.

The ST165 joined the World Rally Championship (WRC) in 1988. It wasn't until the 1989 Rally Australia that the rally-ready coupe secured its first victory with Finnish driver Juha Kankkunen.

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In the 1990 season, Toyota managed to win five times. But perhaps the highlight was Carlos Sainz clinching the drivers' championship in the ST165. Sainz, the current Audi Team Sport driver for Dakar Rally, once again finished first in the 1992 season behind the wheel of the next-gen ST185, which had a more powerful engine and improved suspension.

Kankunnen returned to Toyota from Lancia in 1993, and his efforts led the Japanese automaker to a long-awaited manufacturers' title with three races left on the calendar. The win made Toyota the first non-European automaker to bag the manufacturers' title since the WRC was established in 1973. That year also saw Kankunnen win his fourth drivers' title.

The ST185 again showed up in the 1994 season, securing both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles, with former French rally driver Didier Auriol taking the top spot in the standings.

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However, the following year saw the downfall of the Celica when the ST185's successor, the ST205, was introduced. The car was difficult to set up, and the team improperly modified the restrictor for the turbocharger. In turn, WRC disqualified Toyota in the 1995 season, giving the late Colin McRae his first and only drivers' title in the Subaru Impreza. The Toyota team was suspended for the 1996 season, while the 1997 season saw the entry of the Toyota Corolla instead.

It would be a treat to see the Toyota Celica make a return after an incredible run in the rally world. After all, Akio Toyoda Toyota's ex-CEO and current chairman, said he would like to see the nameplate's revival. However, he also pointed out that it's up to Toyota CEO Koji Sato to give the green light for the project.

If this happens, the Celica will join the GR86 and GR Supra in the automaker's lineup of sports cars. A fully electric model isn't far-fetched, given that Toyota has started touching on electrification globally.

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