Autoart nails the sexy Japanese ‘Mustang’ look …
I came of driving age in the early 1970s and while I drove a snazzy copper-colored Plymouth Duster, which I thought beautiful, the Japanese makes were just getting their footing in the U.S. market. Most models were boring, but to me, the “hot” car was Toyota’s Celica Liftback GT.
It was a mini Mustang, and I say that with all due respect for both.
But by the mid-1970s Ford’s Mustang had grown bulky and ugly and then came the Mustang II. Ugh!
Yet Toyota had nailed the long-hood, fastback design, was reliable, and fairly affordable. In short, a winner!
Now Autoart turns its considerable modeling talents to a right-hand drive 1973 model of the Celica Liftback 2000GT in 1:18 scale and it’s a beauty.
Celica launched as a coupe and notchback version of the Toyota Corina at the 1970 Tokyo Auto Show. Its name was derived from the Latin word coeliac, meaning heavenly or celestial. Perfect!
Sales were good in Japan and by 1973 it had relabeled its hatchback as a Liftback GT that would ultimately be exported to the US for the 1976 model year. Its lines were Mustang-like and indeed the designers were intending Celica for a similar market in Japan, folks wanting a sporty fun coupe, which the fastback look and lightweight execution along with a performance-oriented engine assured.
The rear-drive Celica boasted a 1600cc I4 with twin Mikuni-Solex carbs that delivered about 96 horsepower via a four-speed manual or automatic. But the Liftback GT had 143 horsepower coming from a 2.0-liter I4, and weighed just 2,295 pounds. That 2.0-liter led to the Celica Liftback 2000GT nameplate and was known as the RA25 version within Toyota.
By the time it hit US shores, the GT developed 95 horses from a 2.2-liter I4, but with a top speed of 109 mph. It rode on a 98-inch wheelbase and was just 174 inches long and weighing 2,615 lbs. All Liftbacks here had flat noses vs. a slanting nose on earlier Japanese models and there was no B-pillar. Additionally the rear quarter windows were fixed, so would not roll down. C-pillar louvers and vertical bar taillights were featured, again looking much like a 1968 Mustang.
This 1973 model is as the car appeared in Japan as the RA25 version, but looks much like the US model, aside from being right-hand drive. This sample model is a dark Moss Green, so deep that it looks black in less than bright sunlight.
Autoart’s detailing is superb with chrome trim around all the windows, those C-pillar louvers, the door handles, an antenna stub, racy mirrors mounted far forward on the front fenders as was common in Japan, and naturally the front and rear bumpers. Even the leading edge of the hood includes a slim delicate chrome trim and there’s more along the rocker panel, just below the GT 2000 racing stripe on each side.
Celica’s hood opens from the rear and reveals an absolutely stunning engine bay, one of the best I can recall on a 1:18 scale model not costing $300+. This looks like an engine compartment at the dealer’s showroom, clean and tidy with the I4’s header proudly labeled Toyota in silver and a detailed oil filler cap there too. All the wiring and plumbing is in place and there’s a battery, shock tower caps, all fluid bottles including a clear plastic windshield cleaner container on the firewall. Also visible are the radiator, air cleaner, which lays off to the driver’s side by at the car’s nose, plus throttle body hookups, etc. Wow!
There are black vents (three stacks per side) atop the hood, tasteful but racy, while the black grille appears to be photo-etched with a snazzy GT logo. Headlights are clear, but displaying proper depth for a realistic look, and a front license plate proclaims Celica LB 2000GT, as does one on the tail.
Celica’s 5 vertical bar taillights are excellent too with the outer bar being amber with the others red. A fine GT 2000 logo sits mid-tail and a silver Liftback label appears just below that sleek slanting rear window. A chrome Toyota badge is on the hatch’s lower right edge and below the chrome bumper is a lone long tailpipe extending from the left side.
There’s a Celica label and emblem on each rear quarter panel, just beyond the door’s rear edge, and up front on the fenders are amber marker lights.
Tires are black sidewalls with black Dunlap GP Sport labeling that requires a magnifying glass to read. Wheels are chrome rimmed with black centers and a red and chrome cap.
Inside the Celica features black bucket seats and snazzy detailing all around, from the silver inset buttons on the seats to a control lever on the seatback’s side. Door panels are well shaped and accessorized too with chrome window cranks and door trim.
Celica’s dash is highly detailed with seven round gauges of various sizes, all trimmed in silver and with faces that are nearly readable but would require a magnifier to properly view. A fine looking console includes a clock, rectangular air vents, a black handled shifter, and there’s a parking brake handle between the seats too. Steering wheel is black with a fan-shaped four-spoke center, and Autoart completes the interior’s sporty look with a chrome kick plate on each side of the door frame.
Flip up that huge hatch and there are hydraulic tube struts to hold it aloft, a couple of belts to hold luggage in place and a flocked cargo floor and rear seatback.
Autoart delivers as near a perfect model of the Celica GT as one can imagine, and if you loved this Toyota hallmark of a car, or even still prefer the original Mustang, this is a keeper. The two would look great displayed side-by-side!
Vital Stats: 1973 Toyota Celica 2000 GT (Moss Green)
Stock No.: 78768