NSX, GT-R, Supra, RX7. These were the Japanese halo cars of the nineties. While we are grateful for this era of Japanese cars, there was another group of Japanese cars doing wonders in WRC at the time such as the Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi EVO.
But before those cars hit the scene and romped to huge success there was the Celica GT-Four, the most successful of all Celica WRC generations. Two time manufacturers champion and three times drivers champion, paving the way (or should that be sweeping the way?) for those other greats the Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi EVO. Boom.
So just when are we going to recognise the value this road car represents? Although the road going homologation car never quite achieved the same level of accomplishment as it’s racing brother it that shouldn’t stop us from admiring what this car did on the world rally stage.
Toyota released the ST165, ST185, and ST205 between 1986 and 1999 with the middle child, the ST185 doing most of the damage in WRC despite the larger and more imposing ST205 being more widely recognised thanks to its design flair.
Today the GT-Four looks wonderful against all the hard lined and boxy vehicles around it. Pop up headlights certainly add to the appeal, surely one of the last generation of vehicles by any manufacturer to implement them. The interior is typically Japanese of the time with masses of moulded plastic occupying the cabin. The design is lovely, it’s just the materials which let it down.
Certainly the one to go for would be the homologated Group A Rallye version, otherwise known in different markets as the Carlos Sainz (CS) Limited Edition. Only 5000 units were produced worldwide with only 150 coming to the Australian market.
Changes include a water-to-air intercooler, a different bonnet and bumper, a shortened shift lever throw and clutch pedal travel, a triple cone synchromesh, with the obligatory numbered plaque on the center console.
While the road going version has nowhere near the ferocity of the rally edition with what can be considered by today’s performance standards as being rather tame, it still has its place in history.
How many Group A Rallye’s are left is hard to say but with only 5000 worldwide and only 150 coming to Australia, attrition would surely play a big part in the numbers today. Get in before anyone notices!