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 roughly £5,000 – although the sweet spot begins around the £10k 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.
A Japspeed cat-back is a bit of a no-brainer for the ST205 – inexpensive, high-quality, looks great, and proven gains.
The Blitz SUS induction kit is a hardcore bit of hardware, developed with proper race car tech. Always a winner this one.
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
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!