This Toyota Celica USGP is a ‘Time Capsule’ of the ‘80s

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The ‘80s called, they want their parachute pants, tracksuits, and hairstyles back. But we’ve made one condition… we get to keep the cars. 

Following the overall American automaking malaise era that was the mid-to-late 1970s, the 1980s began to show great promise with a return to form and performance, witnessing the birth of such icons as the C4 Chevrolet Corvette, Shelby GLHS, Camaro IROC-Z, and Buick GNX.

It’s not hard to see why the Big Three stepped it up however, with sporty imports like the Porsche 944, Nissan 300ZX, BMW E30 M3, and this car—a 1980 Toyota Celica USGP—finding homes in garages all across the USA.

After 36 years in the wild, this limited-edition Celica has resurfaced on eBay, and from the photos, it looks to be remarkably “time capsule” clean.

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So what was a “USGP” Celica? In 1980, Toyota celebrated its involvement with the United States Grand Prix West (hence the “USGP” moniker) by producing these limited-edition Celica GT hatchbacks, which brought unique styling treatments to the Celica nameplate.

At a cost of $750 extra, Toyota offered each USGP Celica with a special honeycomb grille, black B-pillars, dual color side stripes, mud guards, unique alloy wheels, plus a black leather steering wheel, ivory seats (as well as ivory headliners and door panels), and a then high-tech sound system.

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And as our friends at Barnfinds point out, these were fairly rare on the ground. The Toyota Celica USGP was offered only in 1980 and only in red, white, and blue exterior colors. A claimed 200 were built in each hue.

While the contemporary Celica Supra and its later Celica and Supra offsprings are undoubtedly faster than the USGP Celicas, this vintage of Celica was lauded for being very nimble and a competent road holder. A five-speed manual transmission was tasked with sending all 90 of the 2.2-liter 20R four-cylinder’s horsepowers to the road, and though that doesn’t sound like much, enthusiasts have long spoken of these engines with the word “bulletproof.”

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This example is said to be a longtime California car, and despite the 199,000 miles shown on its odometer, it still looks incredibly fresh inside and out. If only everything from the ‘80s had aged this well…

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