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TOYOTA CELICA GT-FOUR ST205 BUYING GUIDE

Posted by Matt Bell on 15th March 2021

Toyota has seen all the rave with its latest GR Yaris but what about its past homologation specials? Here’s our quick fire Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 buying guide and top five mods. 

What is the Toyota Celica GT-Four?

The Celica GT-Four is an iconic car, there’s no doubt about it. Conceived as a homologation special for the WRC, it took the everyday Celica liftback and offered it with a turbocharged 3S-GTE motor and permanent AWD. Launched in 1986, the variant existed across three generations – the ST165 (1986-89), ST185 (1989-93), and finally the one we’re looking at here, the all-conquering ST205 (1994-99).

These cars represent pretty sensational value for money these days – you can pick up a runner for as little as £4,000 – although the sweet spot begins around the £7k mark for a good one. And if you think that sounds like a lot for an ageing nineties hatchback, remember these two important points: firstly, it’s a genuine Group A homologation special, and secondly these were very expensive cars when new – well over £10,000 more than the rival Impreza Turbo.

The 2.0-litre turbo 3S-GTE motor served up a raucous 239bhp, with the drivetrain consisting of an E154F 5-speed manual ’box, viscous centre and a Torsen rear diff. The peak power figure may sound modest today, but this package was good enough for 0-62mph in comfortably under six seconds and a top whack of 153mph – and it’s a hugely tuneable engine.

You also got four-pot brakes as standard, with G-sensing ABS, intercooler water-spray, the correct plumbing to allow you to fit anti-lag, and a high-level version of the stock rear spoiler, raised up with tall GT-Four branded risers. It’s not a fully stripped rally weapon though, the spec also included air-con, an electric sunroof, heated mirrors, a decent stereo and headlamp washers. All in all it’s a compelling package, and the ST205 is markedly cheaper than the arguably more obvious Group A homologation choices – the Lancia Delta Integrale and the Ford Escort RS Cosworth. It’ll give either of them a run for their money too.

ST205 GT-Four: what to look out for

Check the provenance of the car you’re looking at, as there are a lot of import GT-Fours on the UK market – this isn’t necessarily an issue, although you may find spec differences as well as notable insurance price hikes. The easiest way to spot a non-UK GT-Four is the absence of headlamp washers. Make sure it’s been properly rustproofed underneath!

Indeed, rust can be an issue on any Celica of this age – check the sills and arches in particular, as well as brake pipes underneath. The Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205  has an aluminium bonnet which is particularly prone to dents and dings, so check it’s in good order as finding a replacement can be tricky. Look out for white smoke from the exhaust which can indicate a worn turbo (rebuilds or upgrades aren’t a deal-breaker, but will need to be strongly factored into your buying price). Have a good look through the history to see it’s been looked after properly, as many haven’t – ideally you want to see oil changes every 5,000 miles or less, and that the fluid’s circulating correctly for the chargecooler. Heaters are a weak spot too – check that it’s blowing hot and cold, and a wet passenger carpet is a dead giveaway of a blown matrix; it’s not an expensive fix, but it’s a faff to do as you have to dismantle the dash!

One crucial factor on your test drive is to ensure the clutch is operating well: replacing it can take about eight hours of labour, which works out to be a significant percentage of your buying price. And if you hear any knocking or clonking from the front end, it’s likely that the ‘Superstrut’ suspension’s figure-eight camber control links are knackered.

Top 5 Celica ST205 mods:

Brakes from £999
The stock 4-pots are great, but if they need replacing you may not be able to find them. So why not upgrade?! The K-Sport 4-pot setup is outstanding.
ksport.co.uk

Exhaust £294
A Japspeed cat-back is a bit of a no-brainer for the ST205 – inexpensive, high-quality, looks great, and proven gains.
japspeed.co.uk

Induction £285
The Blitz SUS induction kit is a hardcore bit of hardware, developed with proper race car tech. Always a winner this one.
blitz-uk.co.uk

Wheels from £900
Rally cars need rally wheels. We reckon that the ST205 would look great on a set of 17-inch Speedline Turinis. Definitely in white too. Yum
rimstyle.com

Seats from £1,200
The stock seats are fine, but imagine how much better it’d be with a pair of Bride Low Max in the front!
sportsseats4u.co.uk