Cold Start: Celica Varietals

Cs Celicas

Something that you generally don’t really see anymore is one model of car with multiple, significantly different body styles. Like this 1980 Toyota Celica, which you could have in liftback or coupé form, and the body changes were significant, with everything different from the B-pillar back. This isn’t some VW Atlas/Atlas Cross Sport  situation where you need a tape measure to know which version you’re looking at.

What if the new Supra, for example, came in a fastback and coupé form? Or if you could get a notchback version of the Kia Soul? Or even two- and four-door versions of the same car? That’s pretty much gone, too.

Is that bad? Good? Honestly, I don’t even know anymore. Maybe it was confusing, maybe it was fun? Probably both.

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46 Responses

  1. This just makes me miss my 1982 L-Type Celica Supra. Loved the wheels and stock rear louvers on that thing. Oh, and the digital speedo/information center still worked fine! In fact, so did the pop-up headlights. Very impressive. Sure, it only had the 5M-GE, but it was a sedate mate for the semi-sporty touring aspirations of that lovely cruiser.

  2. The late 80s- early 90’s S13 240sx was offered in a hatch, coupe, and eventually convertible. The hatch and coupe looked very different as they were based on the 180sx and Silvia in foreign markets but brought to North America under the same model name.

  3. The 1980’s Celica actually was available in five wildly different body styles.
    Notchback (SA6x,) hatchback (RA6x,) AA6x coupe, TA6x coupe, and RA6x convertible (done by ASC.) That’s not even touching on the fact that the TA6x was built as live rear axle and IRS at the same time.

    It’s also quite possibly the first time a Japanese company gave North America a car that could not be bought in Japan or Europe – the GT-S convertible was only ever sold in the United States.

    1. Another car that was built as live axle and IRS at the same time is the 1984 Nissan 200SX. Base-model 2.0L cars had a solid rear axle and rear drum brakes, while 200SX turbos had rear discs and IRS.

      For 1985 onward they used the IRS and rear discs in all models.

    2. Only three bodystyles AFAIK (notch, hatch, convertible), and the initial leading letters in the chassis numbers indicate engine family – SA6x having S-series engines, TA6x T-series and so on. Earlier Toyotas did receive different numbers for different bodystyles, but Toyota found themselves running out of numbers and stopped that practice. Commercial versions and major chassis changes still merited different numbers.

      TA60 means 2T engine and live rear axle, TA61 is 2T engine and IRS. TA62 has the 3T engine, and so on in mostly chronological order of development. This system was muddled by Toyota US using conflicting numbers for different equipment levels in the VIN, meaning a 22R-engined ST with an RA64 model code has a VIN containing “RA63″…

  4. Fox body Mustangs came in hatch and notch variants – not really my bag so I’m not sure if they were always sold at the same time. Now what is my jam is late 80’s Nissan Pulsar’s! Hatch, Sportback, Naked – all the versions!

    1. I believe both coupe and hatch were sold for the entire run of Foxes from 79-93. FYI, the convertible was added in 83 and ran through 93, so 3 body styles for 10 years. And that is without taking into consideration the extra body cladding the GTs got from 89-93, and the unique styling features of the SVO that ran from 84-86.

  5. I think these days most people don’t really care what the model badge says so much as what the manufacturer badge is. Coupled with 4-door sedans being called ‘coupes’ etc. and it’s kind of a moot point.

    That said, I dig those Celicas!

  6. And there was a slightly longer version with the 6 that was the Celica Supra, don’t remember if it was just a different nose or it has a different wheelbase. Celica Supra back then. Posting pics would be a great add on here…

  7. Perhaps it is the opposite, manufacturers are not constraining their platforms to fit the same model. Instead of having a Golf SUV, VW just calls it the Skoda Yeti externally, and P35Q internally.
    Seriously, I had to look it up, and on the Wikipedia page, the list of models (and brands) on each platform just gets bigger and bigger – maybe it is a testament to better modularity on the platform, or better/blander marketing targeting.
    I sure do miss having an obvious connection between wildly different body styles, but maybe this is just because I saw that a lot while I was growing up. I still remember my glee when I realized that the original VW T2 was actually meant to resemble a Beetle. Look: | o \ / o | and (o\_/o) !

  8. Does anyone sell a fastback hatchback any more? I mean, my FRS is is fastback (pretty much) but it has a trunk, My first car, my CRX, had a hatch, as did my Eagle Talon. And Mom’s horrible Datsun F10 was a hatch, and Dad’s 944, which my nephew now has. But does anything, even the exotics, come with a hatch now?

    1. I was a teenager in the ’80s, so I always just assumed hatchback coupes would just exist forever. I’m sad at how wrong I was. Back in those days, even economy cars were offered with them (e.g. the Chevy Cavalier Type 10).

      With the end of the Fox body, the Mustang hatchback got replaced with a semi-fastback style that’s a sorta reinterpretation of the orignals from the ’60s – lots of raked glass with a small trunklid at the end.

    2. Not in coupe form, but there are some 4-door fastback liftbacks like the Kia Stinger (for now), Audi A5/S5/RS5 Sportbacks and the BMW 4 Series GC…

      Unfortunately the people who actually pay for cars new decided having vehicles that were (relatively) fast, practical and inexpensive were for lame/poor people who could only afford one car.

    3. I think it is a crime the FR-S doesn’t have a hatch. It is the type of car that people will often buy as a daily driver. The hatch makes a little two seat sportscar so much more user friendly. I had an MGB-GT, then later a first generation RX7. Surprisingly useful cars for little two seaters. I drove an FR-S when they first came out. It never occured to me they would build such a car without a hatch, I just assumed it would. After driving it, my main impression was f the car was not related to looks or performance, it was, “where is the hatch?”

  9. My Buick Regal TourX also has a sedan version which is completely different behind the C pillar. As is my V90 Cross Country… although I guess technically the S90 is a different model. Obviously, this happens a lot in Europe from which these two cars originate.

  10. I know this is a crappy example but I remember the Chevy Cavalier from the mid-80’s being available as a 2 door coupe, 2 door hatchback, sedan, wagon, convertible, and even in a faux sporty Z-24 trim. Being a Cavalier, those are probably all bad choices but at least there were choices.

    1. I’ve got a better one: the Oldsmobile Cutlass. In the early 1970s, it could be had in hardtop fastback coupe, hardtop notchback coupe, convertible, four-door sedan, and station wagon versions. And hell, in the midst of the 1988 switch over from the G-body platform to the W-body platform, you could buy one in rear OR front wheel drive.

  11. I love these ’70s and early ’80s Japanese cars for some reason, especially the spartan, RWD coupes. My ex had a Plymouth Colt hatchback, an ’83 I believe, and when I learned the prior generation was RWD I went on a hunt to track one down, but I digress.

    It’d be nice if there were more options when it came to body styles, four doors is two too many. Makes me wonder what a Kia Stinger coupé would have looked like, or if it would have sold well.

  12. Señores y señoras
    Nosotros tenemos más influencia con sus hijos que tú tiene, pero los queremos
    Creado y regado de Los Angeles, Juana’s Addicción…..

    Sorry, I read Stop, and Janes Addiction popped into my cranium. Anyways, how about a 2+2 version of the new Z. Though, the proportions of the original S30 2+2 was “off”, maybe the new Z could look sexy as a 2+2. On the flipside, a 2+2 Corvette or SUV could make it rain money for GM.

    1. Nissan has the Infiniti Q60 that is a 2-door 2+2 on the same platform as the Z, so it wouldn’t much more than new sheet-metal stampings to reintroduce a 2+2 Z.

      As for a 2+2 Corvette? Not too many 2+2 mid-engine cars in the world. It would take some major redesign to do it, and it would be huge (see the MegaTrack). Besides, isn’t the Camaro essentially the 4-seat Corvette? Of course, GM could take the Ford approach and just slap some Corvette design cues on an CUV EV and call it a day.

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