Ugly Car Guide: Toyota Celica Sunchaser

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1981 Toyota Celica Sunchaser from Craigslist

1981 Toyota Celica Sunchaser from Craigslist

We know it's officially convertible season and all, but while the tagline for this particularly rank Toyota Celica says "Sunchaser," we suggest you run away instead, quickly, in the opposite direction.

The Sunchaser was an aftermarket conversion of the second-generation Celica--carved out of the bug-shaped hatchback model that preceded one of the best Celicas ever, the wedgy third-gen model. This one wasn't built by Toyota, but the automaker sold it through its dealers, so it's culpable.

The worst part of this slow-moving flop has to be the roll hoop. Even the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet knew not to tread on the waters that killed sharp-looking sportscars for all of us, in the vain attempt to turn them into roadsters. We could remind you of the Nissan 300ZX convertible, or the Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible, or even the Olds Cutlass Supreme convertible and its oddball beer-tap door handles--but it's lunchtime for some of you, on some time zone. It doesn't work any better on econoboxes.

This example's actually pretty clean, and in the bizarro Wayne's-World collector ethos, probably worth its asking price for the tasty stripe package alone. It's the base car under this pristine example that's so offensive to our finer senses: even if only 3000 examples were made, every owner of every example has to put up with that hoop casting a shadow on the cabin and on his or her reputation...all to drive a draftier, wobblier version of probably the least sexy Celica of all time.

It doesn't matter if this one's a head-turner--you'd have to be Ted Turner to be batshit crazy enough to really want this, even on looks alone.

The harsh verdict: So ugly even Wendy Williams wouldn't talk to it.

1981 Toyota Celica Sunchaser from Craigslist

1981 Toyota Celica Sunchaser from Craigslist

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Comments (7)
  1. Well i find the article about the toyota sunchaser very opinionated! I an an owner of an 81 sunchaser myself. It was made by Griffith customs , but also has all toyota running gear. I live in North Georgia and this summer drove the little car to orlando Fla. With gas prices the way they are i ... would not choose any other car to drive down there. I filled up in Suwanee ,GA and pulled into orlando without the gas light on.PPL are so into these new generation cars , but myself im just a ole country boy and i love my little sunchaser ,it keeps up with all these new cars just fine!

  2. As an owner of two classic Celicas the 3rd gen 82 GT hatchback and a 2nd gen 81 Sunchaser, I find this article highly offensive. Despite Mr. Padgett's credentials, I think he wouldn't know a more reliable car if one ran him over. For the year the Sunchaser was born to, I think it was impressive and remains interesting despite whatever asthetic flaws we may find in comparison to todays more technologically designed offsprings. The 22R remains one of the best engines if not the best engine toyota ever designed for its reliability and its endurance. 300,000 plus miles on my 3rd gen proves it. The sunchaser was a simple car for simple times but undeniably a Toyota and well worth any notable place of honor it earns in Toyota history

  3. Sorry Kenneth, but I'm very familiar with first- through fourth-gen Celicas, having driven gen-2 and gen-3 cars for thousands of miles. The Sunchaser may be reliable, but come on--is that the first reason you buy a convertible? Alfa Romeo would never have existed if that were the case.

  4. I'm sorry Marty, but you are not that familiar with these cars. I would think that someone that familiar with these cars would notice the trunk lid in the pictures and be able to tell that its based off a coupe... built by Toyota.

  5. What I'm saying here is Toyota didn't build it in-house -- they farmed it out to a subcontractor. Of course it's a Toyota car, but the conversion was carried out in California.

  6. yes california, and also flordia is were my sunchaser came from, subcontractor or not... its still a toyota.

  7. Wow. This article is full of inaccuracies. In addition to the 2 flaws pointed out by D.Sanchez, the "roll hoop" should really be called a "roll bar."

    I cannot be objective about the car as I have a special place in my heart for the early Celicas, having owned 3 of them over the years. Looking for a Sunchaser now.

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