Is Toyota about to bring back the Celica?
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Having made it clear earlier this year that they want people to stop thinking they're boring, there are rumours that Toyota could be bringing back one of their most popular sports-car nameplates — the Celica.
The speculation comes off the back of news that the company's American arm filed a character mark at the United States Patent and Trademark Office to take back the rights to the name, having not produced a Celica in more than 10 years.
That slice of information doesn't necessarily confirm that the Celica name is on its way back, but you do have to wonder given that Toyota are already strongly (very strongly...) rumoured to be bringing back the Supra name via their current joint sports-car project with BMW (who revealed their first concept spawning from the project, the new Z4, last month).
The first Celica was introduced in 1971, looking very much like a Ford Mustang that had been left in the drier a little long. It fruitfully pressed on as a light, nimble, rear-wheel drive sports car — along the way helping create the original Supra. But over time, it became a primarily front-wheel drive machine (barring the all-wheel drive World Rally Championship GT4 spin-offs).
For its final generation it became big and bloated, very much a shadow of its former muscular self. A rev-happy engine range and impressive handling couldn't save it from extinction in 2006.
It's an interesting one, because Toyota arguably already have a car that fills the Celica void; the GT86. Like the Celica of old, the GT86 is a compact sports car that targets the lower end of the market.
Dusting off my tin-foil hat and placing it on my head, one theory could be that the 86 could have its name changed to Celica for the American market.
Despite the enthusiast thirst for cheap and fun rear-wheel drive platforms, Toyota have struggled to sell enough of the plucky sports car in the US. This could be down to the 'identity crisis' the 86 platform has endured in the US. Like everywhere else, it's sold as a Subaru BRZ there. But, it was also formerly sold as a 'Scion' — Toyota's failed youth brand that folded early last year.
Perhaps Toyota are hoping that tacking on a formerly loved nameplate to the low-selling platform could help it become a sales star?
Either way, the world is a better place with more sports cars humming around on its surface. Three cut-price sports cars in one company's model range might sound like a lot, but if there's one manufacturer that can pull it off … why not Toyota?