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1974 Toyota Celica ST - From the Heavens

A look back at the Celica's first generation

Text By Rodrez, Photography by Rodrez

In the late 1960s, Toyota engineers were on to something when they began designing a new, affordable car intended for the average consumer. Dubbed the Celica, a Latin word meaning "from the heavens," the first generation chassis was revealed in 1970 and seemed to be a tamed down version of the 2000GT. Still sporty, yet intended to be more family friendly and utilitarian, the design was considered forward thinking and quite stylish for its era.

Two different trim levels - the LT and higher model ST - were made available, and in 1974 the twin-Solex carbureted dual overhead cam GT version was unveiled. That was followed by the GTV that did away with a few creature comforts and incorporated a stiffer feel thanks to more aggressive suspension selection. In the latter part of the '70s a "liftback" GT model that was already available overseas finally made its way to U.S. shores.

The progression of the Celica proved to be a hit with buyers as well as the media, with three of the first generation models taking home Motor Trend's coveted Car of the Year accolades in the import class. By the late '70s the Celica reached an auto manufacturer milestone with one million models sold.

The next generation Celica was armed with a larger power plant, and as safety requirements became more stringent Toyota increased overall safety. By the time the fourth generation Celica was released, the spirit of the original was left by the wayside. Focused on keeping up with the masses, a front-wheel drive configuration was decided upon and the look of the car had changed dramatically. One generation later, the boosted, all-wheel-drive Celica All-Trac became the most technologically advanced (and expensive) sibling.

In 2006, the Celica lineage came to an end due in large part to lagging sales. Having gone through significant changes over the years, some good, some not so good, the Celica name lives on through enthusiasts like Moses Arauz. His 1974 ST Celica restomod is a shining example of the potential of this early '70s icon.

By Rodrez
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