Even though the name feels like such a good fit.
With the long-awaited return of the Supra nameplate, Toyota has been hinting at the return of other famous nameplates like the MR2 and Celica. The Celica was a sporty coupe that lasted seven generations from 1970 until 2006. Toyota's halo sports car, the Supra, actually started off as a trim level of the Celica before becoming a standalone product in 1986. Since Toyota now has a two-car lineup of sports cars with the 86 and the Supra, many people have wondered why the less powerful 86 didn't simply adopt the famous Celica nameplate.
Speaking with Toyota spokesperson Nancy Hubbell at the launch event for the new Supra, we learned exactly why the 86 didn't get the Celica name back when the Scion brand was discontinued.
If you'll recall, the Toyota 86 was originally sold as the Scion FR-S in the US but was known as the GT86 in other markets. When the Scion brand was killed off in 2016, Toyota decided to keep three of its models alive as rebadged Toyota cars. "I was in the meeting when we decided to call the iM the Corolla iM, the iA the Yaris iA, and the FR-S the 86," Hubbell recalled. "The 86 was not called the Celica because that nameplate needed to be a new product and there wasn't much enthusiasm for it."
Slapping the Celica name on a car that had already been sold with a different nameplate would have felt disingenuous. The Celica name is precious, so it will only be used on an all-new car developed from the ground up to be a Celica. Toyota also wanted the US-spec car to be more in line with the GT86 sold in other markets, which is why it landed on the 86 name. Hubbell didn't confirm or deny that the Celica name could eventually make a return, so perhaps we'll see the nameplate come back when/if the 86 is replaced.
The Celica changed so much over its 36-year life span, it would be difficult to predict what it would look like in 2019. Toyota and Subaru, who co-developed the 86 and BRZ, have both been coy on whether or not the sports car twins will receive a second generation. If Toyota does decide to build a second-generation 86, we wouldn't be upset if it was called the Celica. We'd also be happy if Toyota decided to bring the four-cylinder Supra to the US and sell it as the Celica.