Since I had a sadisticly evil final exam on Thursday and no class Friday, I chose Edmonton’s Pick ‘n’ Pull for my Friday afternoon recovery session. I had only been once before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I brought a wrench and a screwdriver with me, just in case I found something I wanted to take home. There wasn’t anything in particular that I was looking for because my current cars are probably too new to find parts for, so I was just going down to get my hands dirty and look for obscure relics of bygone eras.
As I made my way over to the import section of the yard, I found a veritable ocean of early 90’s Corollas, Integras, an odd Audi or BMW, early 80’s Golfs, and a selection of Mazda MX-6s so complete that I longed for the ‘88 MX-6 that was my first car.
In betwixt and between all these 80s and 90s wares was something more unique, something altogether rustier than anything else in the yard. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, I don’t know as much about 20th century cars as I might hope, but that’s a product of my age, not my curiousity. So before allowing myself to cheat and look at the scrawled ink on the left rear fender, I tried to guess what exactly it was that I was looking at.
Figured it out yet? The headlight cluster looks like it could be from a Lancia 2000 HF, a Subaru Brat, a MkI VW Golf, or a Datsun 610. The backwards-opening hood and the “ST” badge indicate otherwise.
For everyone out there smarter than me, you’ll have already figured out that it was a 1973 Toyota Celica.
Introduced in 1971 to a North America addicted to fuel-thirsty domestics, the Celica was originally outfitted with a 1.9L 8R engine producing 108 hp and 113 ft-lbs. Then in 1972, as the oil crisis and new emissions regulations took hold, buyers scrambled for fuel misers, the Celica was produced with a 2.0L 18R-C engine with 97 hp and 106 ft-lbs. Not a huge amount of power by today’s standard, but the rear-wheel drive coupe provided plenty of grins thanks to light weight (<2300 lbs) and using MacPherson struts with coil springs up front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs in back.
The Celica was a popular alternative to people clamouring for Toyota reliability but interested in driving something more spirited than the Corolla. Clearly, rustproofing wasn’t a big part of Toyota’s strategy back then. Funny how some things don’t change. The condition of this car is probably why I’ve never seen an first-gen Celica on the roads before. That, and it would need to be a summer car in Edmonton due to RWD and lack of electronic driver aids.
Enjoy the gallery.