Welcome to another edition of Shitbox Showdown! Today we’re looking at a pair of rear-wheel-drive Toyotas finished in the same, um, esthetic. But first, let’s check the results from yesterday’s Pontiacs:
Bird is the word, today anyway. Six-cylinder or not, that Firebird does look like a better starting point, even with the nasty top. But if it were me, those aftermarket wheels would have to go. Someone will want them; you could probably sell them for half the price of the car, and buy some stock wheels and replace the top with the proceeds.
Now then: You don’t see too many all-primer cars anymore. It used to be common; I think a third of the cars in my high school parking lot, including mine, were finished in matte gray or black. Yeah, you told people you were “saving up for a paint job,” but you knew it was never going to happen. A trip to Maaco might as well have been a trip to the moon. Even Earl Scheib was too rich for our blood. But we made the best of it – I remember letting my artist friends draw all over the primer-gray hood of my old Scirocco. I can’t imagine what the guys at the junkyard thought of it, when its time finally came.
These two old Toyotas are a throwback in more ways than one, then. Both are nearly-extinct breeds, and both would have looked right at home in that parking lot in suburban Chicago all those years ago. Let’s check them out.
Engine/drivetrain: 2.2 liter overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, RWD
Location: Marysville, WA
Odometer reading: unknown
Runs/drives? Great, according to the seller
For all I know, this exact car could have been in my high school parking lot, actually. Celicas of this age were all over the place in the late ’80s, before they all rusted away or got thrashed to death. Here on the west coast, rust wasn’t a threat, and if any car is going to survive a good thrashing, it’s one of these. Still, they’re pretty rare these days, even out here.
It must be said, however, that what we have here is most of a Celica. The interior is gutted, sporting a pair of Honda Prelude bucket seats and nothing else. Twenty years ago, you could have found interior parts for this car in any junkyard; nowadays I’m not so sure. But a remnant of industrial carpet is cheap, you can make door panels out of just about anything, and the Prelude seats don’t look too bad in there.
It’s also missing the rear bumper, but it’s a big hideous slab of black rubber anyway, so no great loss. And of course, there is the aforementioned black primer finish, over what appears to have originally been brown. I think I would have preferred the brown, myself. Its original wheels are also gone, and it wears what look to be Nissan wheels, if I’m not mistaken. That fart-can muffler sticking out from under the rear is offensive in more ways than one, but that’s easy enough to remedy.
Mechanically, it’s tip-top, or so says the seller. Toyota R series engines are known for durability and reliability, and this one is old enough to have the good double-row timing chain. Its original carb has been replaced with what I’m pretty sure is a Weber downdraft, a very common modification for these engines. The only mechanical shortcoming is worn-out shocks, and that’s easy to fix as well.
Engine/drivetrain: 2.8 liter dual overhead cam inline 6, five-speed manual, RWD
Location: Auburn, WA
Odometer reading: 200,000 miles
Runs/drives? Yes, but brakes need work
The Toyota Supra started out as the Celica’s big brother, and the early ones were actually badged as “Celica Supra.” This second generation distanced itself from the Celica, but retained some familial resemblance. From the rear especially, it’s hard to tell Celicas and Supras of this age apart. Open the hood, or step on the gas, and the difference becomes clear: the Supra has that wonderful fuel-injected twin-cam inline six.
The seller says this car’s engine runs great, and “most stuff works.” I guess on a forty-year-old car, that’s about the best you can ask for. They do say the brakes need to be bled, but brakes don’t just develop a need for bleeding; if the pedal is soft, that’s a sign that more work is needed. But brakes aren’t the end of the world – unless they fail right when you need them most, I suppose.
Inside, it’s more intact than the Celica, but it’s badly faded. I think it used to be maroon inside, but the seats are sort of lavender and pink, and I don’t know what the hell is going on with the carpet. And what happened to the shift knob? That’s a five-dollar part in any junkyard, or twenty bucks for a generic one from Autozone. Nobody wants to drive a stick with no knob on the shifter. If you lost or ruined the original, put something on there.
Supras of this generation so often have louvers on the rear window that it looks somehow wrong without them. The cool “SUPRA” lettering above the taillights is conspicuous in its absence as well, collateral damage from the flat-blackening. At least those fantastic wheels are still intact.
[Editor’s Note: Hold up. Can we talk about this guy for a minute here?
What’s going on here? Where’s he going with that…what is that, exactly? It doesn’t seem like a car part – the end seems more purple than you’d expect and I think that’s some kind of foam padding/grip material in the middle? It also kinda looks like part of a Dyson vacuum, mostly because of that color. But that end also looks like it could bolt onto something? Oh wait– it’s a floor jack!
Duh, of course it’s a floor jack. It continues off the photo! I have one like six feet away from me! The handle even has the padding in the same place, and mine is metallic blue, not that far off from that purple. Jeez, Jayjay, wake up. He’s just a dude at a junkyard, getting parts! Leave him alone!
He looks like he may be up to some kind of mischief, too. Is this moments before he swings around like a second hand and flings that jack off into the air? I can’t believe I didn’t see that as a jack at first. I’m gonna leave all this in, as a lesson to myself. – JT]
So there you have them: Two rear-wheel-drive Toyota sports cars from the days when New Wave was really new. Neither one is shiny, but are stickshifts, and both can be driven home. So just pick your flavor – you can have a cheap but hollowed-out Celica, or tackle a brake job on a Supra.
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)