The Toyota Celica GT4
The following links from the TTE website provide an excellent pictorial history of the various Toyota Celica GT4 models.
The remainder of this page contains a history of the Toyota Celica GT4 and the Toyota Celica and is compiled from excerpts from the excellent book "Toyota Celica" written by Brian Long and published by Longford International – ISBN 1-899154-02-8.
Use the links below to position to a particular section.
On October 1st 1986, the 4WD Celica GT-Four was announced. The new
3s Twin-Cam 16 Turbo engine was to be the most powerful two-litre unit
available in Japan and, combined with the full-time 4WD system, made
for an impressive car.
With full-time 4WD, driving power is distributed constantly to all the wheels. This system increases grip, giving the tyres more bite than with ordinary two-wheel drive. The extra power provides greater driving force, ensuring better driveability and stability. The GT-Four’s central differential guaranteed smooth running, cut out many of the problems associated with 4WD road cars at the time.
The 1,998cc 3S-GTE engine was developed from the high-performance 3s-GE.Toyota’s own turbocharger, a water-cooled intercooler and exhaust manifolds with independent ports were added to the base engine. The result was a maximum power output of 185 ps (JIS net) and a maximum torque figure of 24.5 kgm (JIS net), making it the most powerful two-litre engine produced in Japan.
The suspension was naturally based on the current Celica, but fine tuned to suit the extra power and the 4WD system. The rear suspension units were connected through a subframe to give more stability and riding comfort. Pirelli P600 radials (195/60 HR14) were chosen as the standard format.
The body featured a larger bumper and integrated air-dam skirt, fog lamps, and large side mouldings. Inside, genuine leather was partly used in the standard seats, as if to emphasis the quality image of the new car. It should be noted that the GT-Four was available only with a liftback body.
During August 1987, the GT-Four was given a viscous coupling on the centre differential to make it safer during poor weather. The design of the front grille was modified slightly, as was the rear lamp design, and the area surrounding the rear number plate. At this time the GT-Four cost a hefty 3,046,000 Yen in Japan.
In 1987 and 1988, David Llewellyn took the GT-Four to two successive British Rally Championship titles. What Car? Said "All the ingredients of an impressive sports coupe are there: a deliciously responsive and refined engine, fine handling along with a comfortable ride and super-sleek body."
On sale in Great Britain from March 23rd 1988, the £20,495 GT-Four hit the national headlines by running on unleaded fuel only. Following its Dutch launch for Europe, the entry of the GT-Four was delayed for the UK due to a lack of unleaded fuel being available. Even then, to be on the safe side, Toyota GB supplied each new car with a 5 litre green petrol can filled with Explosafe foil.
The arrival of the new GT-Four, which made its debut on the 1988 Tour de Course, signified the first serious challenge by Toyota to win the World Rally Championship crown. From this season onwards, instead of entering only selected rallies, Toyota would enter each event in the WRC calendar.
The new Group A regulations dictated that wing sizes should be standard. This restricted the use of wide tyres, and therefore four-wheel drive became an even more necessary fitment to remain competitive. The 3S-GTE engine power was raised from 185 Ps to 265 Ps at 6,800rpm, and peak torque increased from 24.5 kgm at 3,600 rpm.
In the meantime, production changes were afoot in Japan. During May 1988, the GT-Four was given a transmission oil cooler as standard.
For 1988, the 134 mph All-Trac Turbo was introduced with the turbocharged 3S-GTE engine. This was the American GT-Four, so naturally featured full-time four-wheel drive, and disk brakes all-round. There was a new five speed transmission (the E50) for this car, and a larger front air dam and bumpers – both front and rear. In Canada incidentally, the GT-Four was called the Turbo 4WD, but still carried the ST165L code.
For a number of years, the World Rally Championship was being dominated by the Lancia Delta Integrale. For the first few events in the new GT-Four, progress was slow, although a third place on the RAC Rally in its first year was very encouraging. Much was learnt during 1988.
1989 was to be a much better year, and saw Juha Kankkunen take the GT-Four to its first victory in the Australian Rally. Sadly, not until the 1990 Safari did a Toyota driver take the winner’s flag, but then a whole string of successes followed as the gap between the Celica and Delta closed.
Carlos Sainz managed to take the WRC Drivers Title in 1990, and after narrowly missing out to Juha Kankkunen in the following year (by now with Lancia), took it again in 1992. However, Toyota as a manufacturer could not better second place in the Championship despite some fine performances.
In 1990, the Middle East Rally Championship again went to Mohammed Bin Sulayem who had been so successful with the Twin-Cam Turbo model. The Pacific-Asian Constructors title also went to Toyota, after some stiff competition from Mitsubishi.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the new Celica was the aerodynamic body. In an age where jelly mould styling is the norm, it doesn’t seem usual in the slightest, but at the time, to have such a "super round" silhouette was certainly breaking new ground. Though the body itself was more rigid that the previous model, it was actually lighter and, through the liberal use of state-of-the-art sound deadening techniques, quieter on the road too.
The 3S-GTE engine used in the Celica GT-Four had a twin entry exhaust manifold and turbine housing passage that were designed to eliminate exhaust gas interference from the cylinders. The ceramic turbine wheel, which was designed and manufactured independently by Toyota, reduced the weight of the turbine wheel. Coupled with the use of a special coating on the compressor housing and an air-cooled intercooler, it ensured an increase in turbocharger response and efficiency.
The result was the most powerful of all the 2.0 litre class engines, boasting a maximum power output of 225 Ps at 6,000 rpm(up 40 Ps from the previous type), and a maximum torque figure of 31.0 kgm at 3,200 rpm (up 6.5 kgm).
Also new on the GT-Four was a torque sensing limited-slip differential (LSD) for the rear axle. Distributing torque automatically through the use of two worm gears and six element gears, it gave the optimum amount of power to each wheel whatever the conditions. The first deliveries of the new GT-Four began at the end of October 1989.
Introduced into the United States in December 1989, the new Celicas had upgraded wheels and tyres; ABS was standard on the All-Trac Turbo which also had a leather interior, ten speaker stereo system, power drivers seat and an electric sunroof. It was the most expensive Celica to date, and with 200 hp, it was the most powerful, too. 1993 was unfortunately to be the last year of the All-Trac Turbo.
The 3S-GTE was very similar to the old model, but slightly more powerful (200 hp over 190) and also more responsive. The compression ratio was raised from 8.5 to 8.8:1.
Launched at the Frankfurt Show in September 1989 for Europe, the New Celica (fifth generation) finally hit the shores of the United Kingdom in early 1990 – indeed Toyota didn’t even bother showing the new car at the Motorfair. The GT-Four was listed at £21,447.02. Colour schemes included Super White II, Black Super Red II. For 1999, Bluish Grey Metallic augmented the standard range.
For the UK market, the 1991 Model Year GT-Four gained a pair of front fog lamps with yellow lenses, cleverly concealed behind the grille of the front spoiler. All Celica models were given a new and brighter upholstery.
Towards the end of September 1991, Toyota launched a rally version of Celica GT-Four. Christened the Celica GT-Four RC (Rally Competition), the new vehicle was the homologation base for Toyota’s future Group A rally car, scheduled for 1992.
Improved engine cooling, and added power and durability were the main changes. The Celica GT-Four RC used a water-cooled intercooler system for the turbo instead of an air-based one. An air outlet bulge and timing-belt cooling duct were cut into the bonnet, and a larger air intake in the bumper ensure maximum cooling efficiency.
To improve heat dissipation in the valve area next to the valve seat, the engine cylinder heat used the world’s first laser-clad seat. Welded by laser beam, the one-piece structure allowed heat to dissipate more evenly. Back-pressure was reduced in the exhaust system helping to boost the engine’s maximum output by 10 hp to 235 hp, and give the GT-Four RC a spirited exhaust note. To improve durability, Toyota also switched from ceramic to metal turbocharger turbines.
On March 25th 1992, Toyota introduced a road-going version of the Celica GT-Four which Carlos Sainz was driving in the World Rally Championship. Only 5000 of the Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD Carlos Sainz models were produced for homologation purposes, 440 were made available in the UK.
It was easily distinguished from the GT-Four by a redesigned front bumper, air dam and bonnet (the latter for improved engine cooling). Front fog lights (standard on the GT-Four) were not fitted.
Under the bonnet, engine power was increased to 205 bhp, and there was a flatter torque curve for better midrange performance. Several measures were taken to reduce weight, and new dampers, camber angles and spring rates gave even higher levels of stability, grip and handling.
Underneath, the sump guard was redesigned to save weight, and in a further effort to reduce this vital few kilos (the car weighed in at 1890 kg), the exhaust system lost its dynamic damper. The rear silencer was changed to reduce pressure loss and add a sportier exhaust note.
To make for even quicker gear changes, the clutch stroke has been reduced from 145mm to 125mm and the gear lever throw gear, and a double cone synchro on third for improved durability and ease of shifting.
The centre differential of the 4WD transmission now incorporated a viscous coupling, and a torque sensing LSD continued to be used at the rear. Not only does this Torsen differential split torque left and right, but it makes it possible for accomplished drivers to control the torque split by using the throttle.
Inside, air conditioning, an electric sunroof, electric windows, power steering, central locking, and a six speaker stereo all came as standard. Authenticity was guaranteed by a special numbered Carlos Sainz plaque fixed to the centre console.
The Celica Turbo Carlos Sainz could reach 143 mph, but still return nearly 38 mpg an a steady 56 mph: the 0-60 benchmark was achieved in 7.6 seconds. It was priced at £25,000 at a time when the 2.0GT was listed at £18,392.
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The Fifth Generation Celica made its long-awaited World Rally Championship debut in the 1992 Monte Carlo Rally. On its first outing, Carlos Sainz took the new car to second place, beaten only by Didier Auriol driving the latest version of the Lancia Delta. Unfortunately, for some time, the car would prove very difficult to set up.
Despite the fact that Sainz clinched the 1992 Drivers Championship, TTE were looking for improvement. For the 1993 season, the more reliable Ferguson viscous coupling was used in the central differential, and Michelin tyres replaced the Pirelli rubber used in the previous year.
Consistently good results were obtained, but still Ove Anderson and his team of engineers were looking further ahead. Traction control was tested, and the active suspension seen on the limited production Celica Active Sports was looked at as well. Anyway, TTE’s attention to detail finally paid off, and Toyota were crowned World Rally Champion’s of 1993. An added bonus was that Juha Kankkunen took his fourth title driving the Celica GT-Four.
Apart from a small number of outright race victories in the minor events such as the Thailand Championships, an those held in Guatemala, it was rallying that continued to be the Celica’s forte. Around 120 competition engines were being built each year by Toyota Team Europe as the Celicas reputation was reaching dizzy heights. As a matter of interest, even at this stage, a complete rally car cost in the region of £250,000.
The GT-Four RC (RC standing for Rally Competition) was a Group A homologation based machine which, as we have mentioned, entered the World Rally Championship scene on the Classic Monte Carlo. The Celica GT-Four RC road car made its public debut on the 12th October 1992, by which time, maximum power stood as 235 hp. A total of 5,000 were built in Japan – fortunately set lower lower than £25,000 – at 3,171,000 Yen.
For the 1994 WRC, Toyota Team Europe, having now developed a successful car, concentrated on giving the engine more power. Results throughout the season were encouraging, but it was noticeable that Subaru (now with Carlos Sainz on Board), were getting closer to bridging the gap between themselves and the Celicas.
However, there is an old saying that states that the first win is always the hardest. After winning the World Rally Championship in 1993, Toyota and TTE proved the point by doing the same in 1994. Didier Auriol managed to take the Driver’s Title with his Fifth Generation car, although by now, the latest model was being tested in competition.
Development work started in the spring of 1990, with ideas being put forward by five teams – three from Japan (two internal), one from the Toyota-owned Calty Design Research company in America, and the other from Toyota in Brussels, Belgium.
After hundreds of proposals were rejected, on October 8th 1993, Toyota introduced the Sixth Generation Celica. The suspension was improved through various subtle changes, and subframes were adopted for both front and rear sections to enhance controllability. Super strut suspension was introduced for better turning performance and handling.
The body design was striking, it being a purpose-built coupe (not simply a two-door version of a saloon) based on the Toyota formula of a two-door four seater with a liftback rear hatch. Having decided that the ‘face’ of the outgoing Celica was not distinctive enough, the front of the car was probably the most dramatic aspect of the car with its four recessed headlamps.
For the four-wheel-drive Celica, the "GT-Four" name was retained. Introduced at the beginning of February 1994, it was developed as a functional machine (with the help of Toyota Team Europe) with one purpose in mind – to provide Toyota with another World Rally Championship title.
The GT-Four was faster, more powerful, safer and more spacious than its predecessor. It was also lighter but more rigid, with improved handling from its redesigned MacPherson strut suspension. There was a gain in power from the 3S-GTE unit, up 30ps to 255ps thanks largely to changes to the turbo and intercooler, and valve timing; it was now capable of reaching 153mph and 0-60 in 6.1 seconds.
The front suspension was the multi-link Super Strut, similar to that found in the Carina E Gti. The ventilated disc brake system was similar to that on the Supra. The front discs had spiral ventilation channels to keep the brakes cool through better heat dissipation – a Toyota innovation.
The electronic anti-lock braking system (ABS) featured lateral G-sensing so that the forces acting on each wheel could be independently monitored via six sensors, and the braking – even at high speeds or in bends – could be safely controlled.
The GT-Four featured its own original 16" three spoke alloy wheels. The rim size was increased from 15x6J to 16x7.5J for stability, and allowed 18" rims to be used in Group A of the World Rally Championship. The large opening on the wheels was to aid brake cooling.
The GT-Four used the same full time four-wheel drive with a viscous coupling and a torque sensing rear differential as before, so that power was always fed to the wheels with the most grip and traction. A new five-speed manual gearbox (type E154) was used; automatic transmission was not available.
With the need of competition very much in mind, the GT-Four had much large intakes for the engine compartment and brakes, plus additional air intakes on the aluminium bonnet (which was 8kg lighter than a steel one), and louvres for the turbo intake and escape of hot air. Even the upper grille on the bumper was mesh to allow for greater engine cooling.
On the GT-Four, the customer had a choice of a rear spoiler the same as that on the GT or, by using the spacer provided, increasing the height of the spoiler. Attention to detail in reducing weight (such as making the mirror shells of resin, and using aluminium brake caliper pistons), meant the GT-Four weighed in at 1,400kg – just 200kg more than the standard 2.0GT.
At the same time, Toyota started sales of its "Group A homologation base WRC method car" as a limited edition. The necessary 2,500 vehicles were scheduled and built, with the big rear spoiler, bonnet air scoop, and the same Super White II coachwork as the rally car base colour. Priced at 3,271,000 Yen, the GT-Four WRC model cost 100,000 Yen more than the standard GT-Four. 2,100 stayed in Japan.
When the GT-Four finally made it onto the UK market in May 1994, Motorsport tested it and had the following to say: "The wild-eyed Escort Cosworth would be eating the GT-Four’s dust if looks enhanced performance. But they don’t, and the Escort not only accelerates faster than the Toyota, but it’s almost £5,000 cheaper. That said, the GT-Four is just as versatile and less tiring when driven hard for any length of time. There’s no doubt that the GT-Four is as complete and solid a coupe as you could imagine."
After recording 153mph and a 0-60 time of just 5.9 seconds, the summary read as follows: "It comes so close to being a great car, bit the front-drive bias removes a little of the sensory pleasure and, at £29,235, it isn’t exactly the bargain of the year."
However, following their test on the GT-Four, Complete Car said: "This GT-Four is a lot better than the last, which, although successful in the forests, was short on performance for a road car. Toyota could doubtless have made a new GT4 as rough-tough and sharp as the Escort – after all, last year’s rallying Celica was good enough to defeat Dagenham and win the World Rally Championship. But Toyota opted instead for extra comfort and has made the GT4 a better, classier everyday road car without sacrificing much in performance….."
Performance Car were equally impressed: "The new Celica is never less than a blast and the harder you go, the more satisfying it becomes."
GT-Four versions of the Celica have always been rare in Britain. Produced mainly for motor sport homologation, each production run was limited, and the UK only had a relatively small allocation.
Under the bonnet, the turbocharged 2.0 litre 3S-GTE four-cylinder twin-cam 16 valve engine had been substantially modified, with a larger water intercooled turbo and reworked valve ports to give 239 bhp at 6,000 rpm (the previous model gave 205 bhp). Torque was also substantially increased, from 203 lbft at 3,200 rpm to 223 lbft at 4,000 rpm.
The GT-Four came with allow wheels, power steering, heated door mirrors, electric windows, central locking with remote control, a driver’s air bag, six speaker stereo and power aerial, and air conditioning. A CD player was listed as an option.
Toyota won the 1994 World Rally championship, and the Celica took Didier Auriol to first place in the Drivers Championship. Having made its debut on the Burana 400 Mantta Rally, its first appearance on the WRC scene came in the 1994 1000 Lakes Rally as a Group N entry. Some of the later events of the 1994 season used the ST205, although second place was the best that could be mustered.
The maiden victory for the Sixth Generation Celica in World Rallying came on the 1995 Tour de Corse, with Didier Auriol taking the flag. Earlier in the year, Yoshio Fujimoto was the first Japanese driver to win the Safari Rally (in a Group A Celica), but sadly this did not count towards the WRC – just the Two-litre category – the World Championship looked as if it was going to be a close run thing.
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