I was recently stunned to discover that some people don’t think Toyota is very cool.
Just kidding. We all know Toyota isn’t very cool, which is probably the reason they sell a lot of cars. Most people don’t want to be cool, especially because “cool” is really a car business term for “will spend more time in the shop than on the road.” My Range Rover, for instance, is very cool.
But Toyota has its flashes of actual, legitimate cool. And one of those flashes is the Celica All-Trac.
Most people don’t know this car was sold in the States, but it very much was. I believe they offered two models: in ’88 and ’89, you could get the fourth-generation Celica All-Trac, and from 1990 to 1993, you could get the fifth-gen. I’ve never been a fan of the fourth-gen body, but the running gear on both cars was largely the same. And it was awesome.
Under the hood was a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that made 190 horsepower. That may not seem like a lot, but it perfectly rivaled the much more highly publicized “DSM” cars of the time: the Eagle Talon TSi, the Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX, and the Plymouth Laser RS Turbo, which was briefly offered with the same turbo/AWD drivetrain as its companions and should probably be included in a later “It exists” segment.
Plus, 190 horsepower was more than enough power to move the Celica, since it only weighed around 2,500 pounds. Best of all, it included standard all-wheel drive, just like all “All-Trac” Toyota models in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The only difference was that the Celica was the only All-Trac designed for performance, unless you count that supercharged Previa.
With the arrival of the 1995 Celica – arguably the most handsome model – the turbo version went away in the States. Toyota had the Supra, which meant there was no need for a high-performance Celica. And when performance returned to the Celica line with the front-drive, naturally-aspirated GT-S trim in 2000, things weren’t quite the same.
I saw a Celica All-Trac on our roadtrip, and I was very excited by it. They were awesome cars. So awesome that someday, we might be sitting around talking about how we could’ve had a Celica All-Trac for ten grand if only we had bought it in 2013.