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SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

Between the apparent demise of factory-built convertibles in the mid-1970s and their recent reappearance, several aftermarket firms developed the expertise necessary for safe, sound, well-engineered convertible conversions. One of the best-known is American Sunroof Corporation. They have done approved conversions for many major manufacturers and have the facilities for limited mass production.

One of American Sunroof's best-known officially-approved convertible conversions is the Toyota Celica convertible. With a heritage that goes back to 1970, the Celica has been Toyota's entry level sport speciality car for 25 years. Last year Toyota released the sixth version of the Celica liftback and coupe but no convertible. Now, after a years' hiaitus, the convertible returns for 1995 with several improvements.

For convertible conversion, Celica coupes are shipped from Japan to an American Sunroof Company facility in Southern California. There the metal top is removed, and reinforcements are added to the body and frame to retain rigidity and strength. The soft top is fabricated from a special three layer cloth. When the top is up, this convertible is as tight as a coupe. No bows or top mechanism are visible, and it lowers or raises at the touch of a button. It features a heated glass rear window, as well as powered glass rear quarter windows for improved vision. The Toyota Celica convertible is a sturdy, stylish, and fun car.

APPEARANCE: The Celica is a great-looking convertible that displays its Toyota family heritage. The twin projector-beam headlamps flanking the large front air-intake show more than a little influence from the Lexus coupes, while from the rear it displays its Supra inheritance. The sides display a slight "coke-bottle" shape, while the five-spoked alloy wheel are shod with low-profile, road-holding P205/55R15 87Z Goodyear Eagle GA+4 tires. The Celica GT convertible even looks good when the top is up - a most difficult styling feat.

COMFORT: The interior of this convertible is similar to that of the Celica GT coupe. The instruments and switches are well-placed for quick, easy use. Our test car was equipped with most of the available options that add to the comfort and convenience as well as the price. It had air conditioning, cruise control, premium eight-speaker AM/FM/CD/cassette sound system, and leather-trimmed seats on the inside, plus anti-lock braking and alloy wheels for safety and appearance. Other features are an adjustable drivers' seat, power lock, windows and outside mirrors. The front and rear seats are contoured, while the passenger seat automatically slides forward when tilted for easier access for those persons sitting in the rear.

SAFETY: Dual front airbags, side-guard door beams and three point seat belts and disc brakes are installed on all Celica convertibles. Four-channel anti-lock brakes are optionally available.

ROADABILITY: The Celica convertible is a car for relaxed open-air touring whether on the highway or back road. Design improvements have reduced body weight by 10 percent while raising body rigidity by 20 percent. These factors ensure a ride that quiet and stable. Special attention has been taken to reduce noise, vibration and harshness, even when the top is down. Its suspension is sportingly firm, and provides good ride and handling characteristics on all road surfaces and weather conditions. It's a great car for scenic summer drives.

PERFORMANCE: The Celica GT convertible is fitted with Toyota's 2.2 liter, 140 horsepower, four-cylinder twin-cam engine. Producing over 25 percent more horsepower than its predecessor, this motor has good low-speed torque for American driving conditions. An electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission smoothly delivers power to the front wheels. There is plenty of power for merging and passing, and the car is a relaxing joy to drive, especially with the top down on a fine day.

CONCLUSION: For 25 years the Celica has been one of Toyota's best sellers, as well as one of its longest-running models. It defines the term "sport-specialty" for the small car segment in the nineties. A lot of research, development and manufacturing work was done by both Toyota and American Sunroof Corporation to ensure that the Celica convertible provides the quality, reliability and durability for which Toyota is known.


       Base Price             $ 24,798
       Price As Tested        $ 30,005
       Engine Type            I-4, dohc 16v, smpfi
       Engine Size            2.2 liter/132 cid 
       Horsepower             130 @ 5400                         
       Torque (ft/lbs)        145 @ 4400 
       Wheelbase/Length       100"/177"
       Transmission           four-speed EC automatic w/overdrive
       Curb Weight            2820 lbs.
       Pounds per Horsepower  21.7
       Fuel Capacity          16 gal.
       Fuel Requirement       Unleaded regular (87 oct)              
       Tires                  Goodyear Eagle GT+4  all season
                              P 205/55R 15 87Z             
       Brakes                 vented disc/disc, ABS optional
       Drive Train            Front engine/front drive
       EPA Economy - miles per gallon   
         city/highway/observed       22/29/25.6
       0 to 60 mph                   8.9  sec 
       1/4 mi (E.T.)                 17.0  sec  
       Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)     .36 (top up)

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