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Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 buying guide (1994-1999)

Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 buying guide (1994-1999) Classic and Performance Car
Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205
In the land of the Japanese performance car, it can be difficult to stand out, but the Toyota Celica GT-Four of 1994 certainly managed it. As the third and final incarnation of the World Rally Championship competing all-wheel drive Celica, the ST205-generation car is by far the best-developed and most impressive road-going Celica of all time. 
 
Honed in the wind tunnel, the GT-Four is surprisingly aerodynamic, but perhaps the impressive fact is the functionality of the (optional) huge rear wing. Toyota claimed that this appendage created a whopping 50kg of downforce at 60mph.
 
A four-wheel drive system with neutral 50/50 torque split, potent 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and coupe styling combine to produce an enticing package. The ST205 was engineered to win rallies, making it an extremely effective road car. It was expensive in the UK, which limited sales, while tough competition from the Ford Escort RS Cosworth and the much more practical Subaru Impreza means that the vast majority of cars were sold in Japan.
 
In the early days the car was a huge success on the rally circuit. Despite being penalized for cheating in the WRC (a clever device was fitted to allow more air into the engine than the permitted restrictor would allow) the car went on to be a moderate success in the hands of privateers too. Despite this, values of the ST205 remain affordable. 
 
On the road today the Celica still impresses with some serious cross-country performance. Firm suspension, precise steering and strong brakes all work well, while the boosty power is exhilarating – even if the soundtrack isn’t particularly great. The five-speed ‘box offers well-spaced gearing for devastating acceleration and surprisingly good motorway cruising, while the four-wheel drive system means traction and grip are never an issue. 
 

Which Celica to buy?

 
The big dilemma will be whether to go for original UK car or Japanese import. If you’re looking for an extremely original example, then seeking out a well cared for UK car might be easiest, although choosing an import opens up many more possibilities, including later models. 
 
There are various spec differences between UK and JDM-spec Celicas, so it’s worth understanding these before making a purchase. Japanese cars produce a slightly more potent 255bhp (due to being set up to run on higher-octane fuel) compared to the 239bhp of the UK cars.
 
If you really like the idea of owning a Group A homologation special, then it’s worth seeking out one of the 2500 WRC edition cars. While the spec only varies slightly, the kudos of explaining the fact your car has a de-activated anti-lag and water injection system installed is priceless. Power output is officially the same, although some reckon that the WRC cars were slightly ‘healthier’ from the factory.
 

Performance and specs

 
Toyota Celica GT-Four (ST205 UK spec)
Engine 1998cc, four-cylinder turbo
Power 239bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 223lb ft @ 4000rpm
Top speed 152mph
0-60mph 6.3sec
Fuel consumption 28.8mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
 

Common problems

 
• Perhaps the most common concern with the ST205 Celica is the car’s complex multi-link front suspension. This provides fantastic handling characteristics when in good shape, but if worn out expect a wayward front end. 
 
• Unless there is proof that the ‘Fig-8’ links have been replaced, they will likely need to be. Genuine Toyota parts are the only option, and with the lower arms that will probably need to be changed as well, it’s almost £600 in parts alone, so can significantly dent a modest budget.
 
• If you hear a loud clonking on full lock or over bumps, don’t panic straight away though. This could also be the crush tubes that often deform if you hit a nasty pothole in the road. It’s a relatively cheap and easy fix. 
 
• On the test drive, you should also listen for any knocking of clonking from the rear of the car. If you do hear this, it is almost certainly the rubber rear diff mount. It’s not a huge job for any garage to undertake. 
 
• The 3S-GTE engine is an extremely strong and long-lasting engine in standard form, but regular oil changes are a must. Listen for any knocking signifying worn bottom end bearings
 
• Turbos can fail, and are more likely to if the car has been driven hard and not given time to cool down properly. Check for the usual signs of blue exhaust smoke, indicating worn seals.
 
• Check that proper bright red Toyota anti-freeze is at the correct level in the top-mounted intercooler. 
 
• Tuned engines are common, as more than 300bhp is possible on standard engine internals. It’s not as straightforward as some other Japanese cars, and poorly tuned examples might not last too long. 
 
• Gearboxes are strong, but the syncros can wear out, so check for crunching going up and down through the gears. Clutches can wear if abused off the line, so check for any signs of slipping.
 
• Rust is sadly not uncommon, so check all the usual places like sills, jacking points, door bottoms and rear wheel arches, as these are often first to go. 
 

Model history

 
1994: ST205 Celica GT-Four goes on sale.
Early 1996: A minor refresh sees a few changes, such as twin front airbags, side skirts, different alloy wheel design and revised rear spoiler brought in.
October 1996: Sales of the GT-Four stop in Europe.
Late 1997: The ST205 once again undergoes a facelift, freshening up the model for the Japanese market. This includes new front projector headlights, clear rear lights and different trim for the interior. 
August 1999: The last Celica ST205 rolls off the production line, as the factory prepares for the next-generation Celica
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
- www.gt4oc.net
- www.gtfours.co.uk
 

Summary and prices

 
Despite a few specialist aspects, the GT-Four is still a Toyota, which means that you can rely on the absolutely fantastic build quality. Prices in the UK do vary quite a bit, but it would be advisable to stay away from anything priced lower than £2500 unless you’re looking for a project. 
 
Around £4000 is enough to find a cracking example, with some dealers asking around £6500-£7000 for the very best. The later Japanese imports still carry a premium, so expect to pay around £3500-£8500 depending on mileage, spec and condition.
Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205
Last updated: 6th Oct 2016
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