Toyota's WRC legend: infamous Celica GT-Four for sale in NZ
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Regular Driven readers may remember that, back in June, we tackled the Gumboot Rally in a Honda Civic Type R safety car. We spent a fair chunk of the event shadowing a pair of wonderful rallying replicas — and now, one of them is up for sale.
The Toyota Celica GT-Four has always been a curious character in the grand scheme of Japanese performance cars. It's reliable, has a rich motorsport history, and blimmin' quick. Yet, interest in them as collectors vehicles hasn't experienced the boom that cars like the Nissan Skyline and Honda Integra Type R of the same era have enjoyed.
The ST205-generation GT-Four is particularly significant. Not only did it arguably share the closest connection to its World Rally Championship cousin, but in that championship it experienced dizzying highs and monumental lows.
The ST205 debuted part-way through the 1994 WRC season, before becoming the core weapon of choice for the likes of Juha Kankkunen, Didier Auriol, and Armin Schwarz in 1995. It was a strong contender too, with Auriol winning Rallye de France and Kankkunen sowing together yet another consistent season after five straight seasons of being on the title podium.
Things were looking good for a sold end-of-season result, until the FIA discovered that the ST205s sported a cheat device (or 'manufacturing loophole' depending on your perspective). Its restrictor plate, intended to restrict the amount of air flowing into the turbo to limit power output, had the potential to disengage when removed from the car. While Toyota were disqualified from the 1995 season and handed a one year ban, the cheat also drew backhanded praise from people who were simply impressed with its ingenious.
“It’s the most ingenious thing I have seen in 30 years of motorsport,” said then FIA president Max Mosley. “Inside it was beautifully made. [...] It is the most sophisticated and ingenious device either I or the FIA’s technical experts have seen for a long-time. It was so well made that there was no gap apparent to suggest there was any means of opening it.”
Cheat device or not, the Celica GT-Four's appeal as a rapid and fun Japanese sports car alternative with a colourful history is undeniable. And, few in the country are better presented than this 1995 Rally Catalunya Castrol Kankkunen example.
Mechanically, it's almost completely stock save for Tein suspension and lowering springs, OZ Racing lookalike wheels wrapped in semi-slick tyres, and a host of neat tiny details. It's got an immense 275,000km on the odometer, but that just adds weight to those references to reliability. You can learn more about the listing by clicking here.