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1971 Toyota Celica - That '70s Go

This little green machine is proof positive that old school remains cool

Jonathan Wong
Aug 3, 2018
Photographer: Alexander Hou

Appreciating '70s-era gems can be a challenging thought to most of our younger readers, aka you. That era had the original Star Wars: A New Hope film and disco; we have the billion-dollar The Last Jedi entity and mumble rap. Huge differences in cinematic and musical styles. If you lean more toward the latter two, then the '71 Toyota Celica you see here may not get you excited like a Liberty Walk-kitted Lexus would—after all, the chassis is older than some of our current staffers, and we think they're too old. But give us a few minutes to convince you otherwise; this classic gem has the stuff to make anyone a believer.

1971 toyota celica rear bumper Photo 2/28   |   1971 Toyota Celica Rear Bumper

Stare into a sea of older 'Yotas at a gig like Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) and you'll notice that Jorge Aguilera's Celica immediately stands out because of its custom green paint, whereas most others still rock their original color. Listen carefully and the sound of the engine setup will have you smiling: a DOHC 18R-G, something that's considered the stuff of legends within the Toyota community, and is a vast improvement over the car's original single-cam motor. Factor in the custom turbo kit with a large T3/T4 slug and a loud 2.5-inch exhaust, and suddenly this is more than just old-school cool. It's old-school cool with plenty of power.

No matter which way you look at this generation Celica, it's hard to ignore its small size. But add some aero, give it a nice drop in ride height, and it takes on an entirely different personality. The bolt-on fender flares provide curves while a front lip and JDM fender mirrors set it off without going overboard. Jorge used Megan Racing coilovers to bring those fenders within a paper sheet's thickness to the stretched combo of 15-inch Atara wheels with Federal tires.

1971 toyota celica 18RG engine Photo 6/28   |   1971 Toyota Celica 18RG Engine

The interior of Jorge's Celica, much like the rest of this build, is a space centered around simplicity. Not because he didn't want to—more because it's not a necessity. The classic shapes of the dashboard, gauges, and center console are accentuated with minor refinements, which include an aftermarket steering wheel, carbon gauge trim, and slightly more modern seats from an '85 Supra. An Alpine head unit has been mounted just below the glove box, and a set of blue LED lights placed along the B-pillar provides a colorful glow for evening driving.

Jorge says he loves the sleek retro look the Celica's body lines provide but says it's almost time to upgrade its performance: "I'll be adding a 2RZ motor with a Turbonetics turbo." We can't wait to hear what that'll sound like.

1971 toyota celica steering wheel Photo 13/28   |   1971 Toyota Celica Steering Wheel
1971 toyota celica JDM fender mirror Photo 17/28   |   1971 Toyota Celica JDM Fender Mirror
1971 toyota celica headlight Photo 21/28   |   1971 Toyota Celica Headlight
1971 toyota celica custom fender flares Photo 25/28   |   1971 Toyota Celica Custom Fender Flares
By Jonathan Wong
488 Articles
1971 Toyota Celica - That '70s Go
Tuning Menu
Owner: Jorge Aguilera
Hometown: Perris, CA
Occupation: service technician
Engine: Toyota 18R-G; GReddy blow-off valve; 2.5" exhaust; T3/T4 turbo; custom intercooler and piping; Koyorad radiator
Drivetrain: '79 Supra rear differential
Engine Management: MegaSquirt ECU
Footwork & Chassis: Megan Racing coilovers
Brakes: cross-drilled rotors
Wheels & Tires: 15x10.5" Atara wheels; 195/45R15 Federal tires
Exterior: custom lime green paint; fender flares; JDM fender mirrors
Interior: '85 Supra front seats

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