15 years of the seventh-generation Toyota Celica

Celica 15 008


It’s celebration time, because it was precisely 15 years ago to this day (12 November 1999) that the seventh-generation Toyota Celica went on sale in the UK. Time flies when you’re having fun, eh?

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Arguably the most striking mainstream sports coupe of its day, the new Celica was almost as short as the first-generation car but had a wheelbase longer than any previous generation for a powerful, wheel-at-each-corner stance and excellent agility. In addition, while the model had historically featured a long-bonnet aesthetic popularised by American muscle cars, the new cab-forward design penned by Toyota’s Calty Research division in California was inspired by motorsport, notably the Toyota GT-One Le Mans racer.

Beneath the wedge-like exterior was an originally developed front-wheel drive platform hung on new double wishbone rear suspension and refined MacPherson struts up front. Its overall weight was up to 90kg lighter than the outgoing model, which allowed Toyota to endow the new Celica with a class-leading power-to-weight ratio using an intelligent but relatively small capacity 1.8-litre engine. Putting that into perspective, its 130bhp per tonne ratio was equivalent to that of the iconic 2.8-litre Ford Capri.

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Firing through the Celica’s new close-ratio six-speed gearbox revealed sparkling performance – 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds and 127mph top speed – allied to a combined fuel consumption figure of 36.7mpg. Compared with the best-selling sixth-generation Celica 1.8 ST, the new car was faster, cleaner, cheaper, more frugal and even better specified. Of course things got even more exciting when a 190bhp model was added almost a year later.

What elements of the seventh-generation Toyota Celica do you fondly remember? Was it the surprisingly practical luggage area, the strange mix of orange and green dashboard illumination, the cool engine-cooling bonnet vent, or the fact that most new buyers couldn’t resist the optional Sports Pack that included 17″ alloys and a rear spoiler?

Whether you used to own a seventh-generation Celica or still do, why not join our celebrations? We’d love to hear about your experiences or memories using the comment box below.

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Learn more: History of the Toyota Celica

Read more: What does the press say about Toyota’s latest coupe?

Comments (25)

  1. I bought my Gen7 celica 2 years ago and it has 109,000 on the clock. When I bought the car I was amazed at the tip top condition it was in.It had obviously been immaculately looked after.It was in it’s 17th year when I got it.I have had a myriad of cars over the years but I think this is the best.Bekay.

  2. I bought my 02 VTTLi just over a couple of weeks ago. Whilst I always wanted a second generation MR2 Turbo the practicality of boot space for plastering jobs helped sway my decision and price.

    The comfort of the drive, the effortless pull in all gears and that ‘lift’ is such a good feeling. The car hugs the road in tight corners and is a fun drive.

    Still today the design is fresh and a head turner. I think the design was ahead of its time, something Toyota sports minded coupes have always been in my opinion.

    Whilst it only had 71k miles on the clock the car feels as new. It’s in great condition and it is the best car I have ever owned over 33 years driving. The interior is like new and whilst the Sony radio has its age issues I’ve put a Pioneer DAB android / Apple touch screen in which looks period with the cars design.

    Only light corrosion is a issue underneath but this car has been looked after. This will be remedied shortly.

    I’m glad Toyota have recommissioned the new 2019 Celica. Toyota always led the way with Japanese engineering of the past.

    Long live the Celica, a car I promised myself since I was 9 years old with the gen 1 car. 😃

  3. I have a customised Celica 1.8 VVTI repainted matt black, uprated suspension and touring style 17 inch alloy wheels. The car is a dream to drive. Planning on researching remap options.

  4. I have a 2004 Celica GT manual that I bought new in 04. It’s been a fun and reliable ride for me and I love this little thing :). It even sat for 4 years in my driveway and after a somewhat modest but affordable bill to get it running again, it’s back to being a fun, reliable ride that I intend to have for as long as it lasts. I also had it painted and upgraded the rims and tires to 17″. I did recently have to replace the cv joints, rack and pinion, and also power steering pump( well, it is 15 now), but the biggest issue I have had mostly through this is how Courtesy Toyota in Tampa FL treated me and my car when I took it to them for a second opinion through this mess from Pep Boys who did a horrendous job on the repair of the power steering. They quoted the wrong parts to be replaced (back shoes needed to be replaced, not the fronts like the text/mechanic told me) and also told me my 3 year old drive belt was cracked. I refused to replace it and took it to yet another mechanic who with pictures showed me that the wrong brakes were quoted and also informed me that my drive pully had been bent and that why my belt was now freyed. I had them fix my car instead and its good as new. I don’t know how the dealer ships are in the UK, but here in Tampa FL they are for the birds. I will never buy another car from Toyota again after this is all said and done, let alone have them touch it for maintenance. At this point I am looking into this legally.

  5. I own 2 gen7 celicas. A 2004 red edition and a 2005 gt and ive got to say the gt is one of the sweetest cars I’ve owned in my 30 odd years of driving. I thought nothing would come close to my 1992 astra gte but i was wrong. The gt’s previous owners were less than caring but im fortunate enough to be in a trade where getting the bodywork back to factory (infact better than a factory finish) is in my plans for 2019. Eveything about the car ticks all the boxes. The way it looks, the way it handles and drives and did i mention the way it looks 😉 I got a bit smitten by vw some time ago and its taken to many years to realise or infact remember how decent these cars are

    1. Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for getting in touch, it’s great to hear such positive comments. We wish you many more happy miles in your GT in 2019!

  6. I own a 7th gen with 171000 still running strong it has a japspeed back box 18inch alloys upgraded brakes my next plan is a sway bar. Ive owned
    French cars italian german fords seat
    I prefer japenese cars all day long and the celica is the best jap car ive owned

  7. Man this makes me proud to say out of all the toyotas and somother cars ove owned my 2000 celica gts is also a great reliable car i have 247k miles on it and can go alot more so for buyers in tge market of a good sports cpupe buy a 7th gen celica especially a gts tgey were a lil more reliable than my 2000 and 2001 gt ive owned previously

  8. Just bought my gen 7 celica red edition 54 plate what a car I love it looks amazing outside open the door looks even more amazing start the engine amazing put your foot down heaven I asked my my partner to have a go driving she said why in the end she did her face when she went up though the gears she loved it I consider myself very lucky to own one of the

  9. I own a 2001 7th Generation Celica which is still in immaculate condition. It is a 140bhp model with all the extras including 18″ alloy wheels and stainless steel exhaust. I truly love driving this car and have so much pleasure putting it through it’s paces – I live in a remote part of North Wales providing ideal conditions for fun driving! Over the years it has gained a high mileage but is still reliable under all conditions. A really iconic car that will become a future classic car.

      1. Hi Ella, Sorry for the long delay in responding to your message. I still own the Celica and use it almost every day. The car just passed it’s last MOT a few days ago and has reached 156,000 miles in answer to your question.
        I have owned a lot of cars in my lifetime but overall this has been the best it has power, space and is very economical on the road. Above all I really love the design that still gets attention from the public. A classic car that will definitely become a collectable in the years ahead.
        My wife wanted me to sell the Toyota and buy a Mercedes coupe but after having a test drive I intend sticking with my trusty and reliable ‘old’ Celica.

        1. Hi Harvey,
          We are delighted to hear this, and congratulations on the 156,000 milestone.
          If you wish to be part of our High Mile Club and get a free sticker, all you have to do is post a picture of your car’s odometer with the hashtag #HighMileClub on our Facebook page or when mentioning @ToyotaGB on Twitter, and we’ll get in contact to post a sticker out to you.
          Three High Mile Club sticker designs are available – bronze-tinted for 150,000 miles, silver for 200,000 miles and gold for 300,000.
          Thanks again for your kind words and congratulations.

  10. I have owned two 7th gen Celicas a 2000 x plate and a 2003(facelift model) both blue and both with rear spoiler, leather, climate, sunroof etc (140bhp model) My girlfriend today drives a 54 plate blue base 140 model with spoiler and I now drive a 10plate Audi A4.
    She struggles to get into her car often as I love driving it. The handling is incredible and all have been ultra reliable. Going to be selling it soon as I’m getting a new car and she will get Audi. It will be very difficult to say goodbye to a truly wonderful car.

    1. Hi Neil,
      Thank you for your post. We love to hear stories about our owners and their cars and please feel free to post a picture on our Toyota UK Facebook page of your Celica. We are glad you love the Celica as much as we do! Many thanks.

  11. Love my 7th gen t sport, had it five years (the longest I’ve owned a car!) Still looks great and drives great! Me and my wife have just been to yorkshire on honeymoon in it too! Well done toyota for making it!

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