15 years of the seventh-generation Toyota Celica

Celica 15 008

It’s celebration time, because it was precisely 15 years ago to this day (12 November 1999) that the seventh-generation Toyota Celica went on sale in the UK. Time flies when you’re having fun, eh?

Arguably the most striking mainstream sports coupe of its day, the new Celica was almost as short as the first-generation car but had a wheelbase longer than any previous generation for a powerful, wheel-at-each-corner stance and excellent agility. In addition, while the model had historically featured a long-bonnet aesthetic popularised by American muscle cars, the new cab-forward design penned by Toyota’s Calty Research division in California was inspired by motorsport, notably the Toyota GT-One Le Mans racer.

Beneath the wedge-like exterior was an originally developed front-wheel drive platform hung on new double wishbone rear suspension and refined MacPherson struts up front. Its overall weight was up to 90kg lighter than the outgoing model, which allowed Toyota to endow the new Celica with a class-leading power-to-weight ratio using an intelligent but relatively small capacity 1.8-litre engine. Putting that into perspective, its 130bhp per tonne ratio was equivalent to that of the iconic 2.8-litre Ford Capri.

Firing through the Celica’s new close-ratio six-speed gearbox revealed sparkling performance – 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds and 127mph top speed – allied to a combined fuel consumption figure of 36.7mpg. Compared with the best-selling sixth-generation Celica 1.8 ST, the new car was faster, cleaner, cheaper, more frugal and even better specified. Of course things got even more exciting when a 190bhp model was added almost a year later.

What elements of the seventh-generation Toyota Celica do you fondly remember? Was it the surprisingly practical luggage area, the strange mix of orange and green dashboard illumination, the cool engine-cooling bonnet vent, or the fact that most new buyers couldn’t resist the optional Sports Pack that included 17″ alloys and a rear spoiler?

Whether you used to own a seventh-generation Celica or still do, why not join our celebrations? We’d love to hear about your experiences or memories using the comment box below.

Learn more: History of the Toyota Celica

Read more: What does the press say about Toyota’s latest coupe?


  1. I have a 2004 Celica GT manual that I bought new in 04. It’s been a fun and reliable ride for me and I love this little thing :). It even sat for 4 years in my driveway and after a somewhat modest but affordable bill to get it running again, it’s back to being a fun, reliable ride that I intend to have for as long as it lasts. I also had it painted and upgraded the rims and tires to 17″. I did recently have to replace the cv joints, rack and pinion, and also power steering pump( well, it is 15 now), but the biggest issue I have had mostly through this is how Courtesy Toyota in Tampa FL treated me and my car when I took it to them for a second opinion through this mess from Pep Boys who did a horrendous job on the repair of the power steering. They quoted the wrong parts to be replaced (back shoes needed to be replaced, not the fronts like the text/mechanic told me) and also told me my 3 year old drive belt was cracked. I refused to replace it and took it to yet another mechanic who with pictures showed me that the wrong brakes were quoted and also informed me that my drive pully had been bent and that why my belt was now freyed. I had them fix my car instead and its good as new. I don’t know how the dealer ships are in the UK, but here in Tampa FL they are for the birds. I will never buy another car from Toyota again after this is all said and done, let alone have them touch it for maintenance. At this point I am looking into this legally.

  2. I have a customised Celica 1.8 VVTI repainted matt black, uprated suspension and touring style 17 inch alloy wheels. The car is a dream to drive. Planning on researching remap options.

  3. I bought my 02 VTTLi just over a couple of weeks ago. Whilst I always wanted a second generation MR2 Turbo the practicality of boot space for plastering jobs helped sway my decision and price.

    The comfort of the drive, the effortless pull in all gears and that ‘lift’ is such a good feeling. The car hugs the road in tight corners and is a fun drive.

    Still today the design is fresh and a head turner. I think the design was ahead of its time, something Toyota sports minded coupes have always been in my opinion.

    Whilst it only had 71k miles on the clock the car feels as new. It’s in great condition and it is the best car I have ever owned over 33 years driving. The interior is like new and whilst the Sony radio has its age issues I’ve put a Pioneer DAB android / Apple touch screen in which looks period with the cars design.

    Only light corrosion is a issue underneath but this car has been looked after. This will be remedied shortly.

    I’m glad Toyota have recommissioned the new 2019 Celica. Toyota always led the way with Japanese engineering of the past.

    Long live the Celica, a car I promised myself since I was 9 years old with the gen 1 car. 😃

  4. I bought my Gen7 celica 2 years ago and it has 109,000 on the clock. When I bought the car I was amazed at the tip top condition it was in.It had obviously been immaculately looked after.It was in it’s 17th year when I got it.I have had a myriad of cars over the years but I think this is the best.Bekay.

  5. I have 2003 Celica 190 T Sport in Thunder Grey and have to say it is the best car I have ever owned. Period. Consequently I have kept it for 15 years myself. Never lets me down. No reason to change it. Looks good. Goes like the clappers. But there are a few issues. Underbody corrosion for one. I have to get under every year to sort the corrosion. Shame really. I want to keep the car forever and think this may let her down one day. On some of the blogs, I heard the early vvti engines used oil and ultimately failed. These were the first vvti engines toyota used and like most manufacturers I guess they use new models with new engines as a testbed. A mate who worked for Toyota claims that Toyota sorted this issue with the facelift 2003 model with an improved oil pump. So touch wood she is still good. The other issue is when the vvti kicks in. It’s a bit late. The Honda vtec kicks in earlier, and I think the Celica would be more of a match if it did too. I have tried to get the car’s software redone but as the engine is so wired, Toyota locked out the software. Or so I’m told. Shame really, I only wanted it to kick in 1000 rpm sooner than it does. Love Toyotas. Love this one particularly. Sticks to the road like manure on a blanket with the right rubber and still one of the fastest turn ins for any front wheel drive car, and I have driven a lot of the modern competition that don’t come close. Debating on getting the GT86, but it hasn’t the rear seat capacity that the Celica has, and not much quicker. So she is staying. Why change her? More reliable and fun than the Ex. Looking at her (the car not the ex) now with a stupid grin on my face.

    1. Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s great to hear that your Celica is still running well!
      We wish you many more happy miles and adventures together.

  6. I’ve owned my 2006 Silver 140bhp for over 5 years now.
    I’ve done almost 60.000 very enjoyable miles in it now and when the mileage was 143k my son and l did a 4100 mile 12 day European Roadtrip taking in a Lap of the Nurburgring and climbing both the Stelvio pass in the Italian Dolomites and the Transfăgărășan pass in the Carpathian mountains in Romania.
    The dispite being 13 years old at the time didn’t miss a beat.
    The mileage is approaching 160k now and l use my Celica as a 2nd car now and it’s garaged from October til April to keep it away from the Salty winter roads here in the North West of England.
    It’s my all time favourite car I’ve ever owned and would like to keep it for as long as possible.

    1. Hi Mark,
      Thank you very much for your kind words and for sharing this with us.
      We wish you many more happy miles!

  7. Still remember first time a saw a gen 7. Hoped to own one ! Bought an oil burner! Got it sorted at Toyota. 6 years of trouble free motoring. Practical,fun to drive,fast enough. Lots of attention still for 22 years old!(got GT body kit on!) I love it. Best car I have owned. No rust on top,just underneath a problem!
    Wish I had one from new & kept in a garage ☹️

  8. I’ve owned 3 celicas , the st my first love . Suffered bad flood damage was gutted . A year later I got a red 2002 vvti loved it the same, had a mad moment thinking u really need a van for work but not 2 vehicles. So I bit my lip and sold the celica , god I missed her. So yes u guessed it I let heart rule head and got 2006 vvti a year later. Beuutifull condition in and out drives perfect . To be honest all my celicas were spot on in every way. My mrs doesn’t understand my obsession with the celica lol. But most of u know we’re I’m coming from don’t u. Think she’s jealous 😂 .

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