Micropost: The Detriment

The public lost interest in these cars: inexpensive coupes. 

1999 Toyota Celica A-pillar. Bodge.

The flame flickered out between 1999 and 2006 for the seventh generation Celica. It had one engine in two states of tune and this terrible A-pillar.

1999-2006 Toyota Celica

I can think of a few cars with a single detail that ruins the whole thing. For me, the drastic upward curve of the Celica mirror-sail panel makes it a deal-breaker. The rest of the car hangs together quite well in an -ish way.

The Mk 1 Citroen C5’s gormless lamps would be another deal-smasher although the rest of the car could be called unfathomable too.

1999-2006 Toyota Celica

Saab’s 1998 9-3 has an unfortunate bonnet to wing panel gap that kills the car and Alfa’s first series 166 headlamps ruin an otherwise appealing saloon. The Peugeot 206 joins the list with its protruding rear mirror base, formed by a bulge on  the front wing. Are there others we can think of?

For the moment we can dwell on the Celica last hurragh: cheaper, lighter, more modern and ultimate, in the non-cool, doomed sense of the word.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

12 thoughts on “Micropost: The Detriment”

  1. You really are a pain sometimes … I always liked this car, but when I just saw the close up of the wing mirror arrangement my brain went ‘oh, that is just crap’. You did the same thing with Xantia and a very similar body part and have never felt the same again about it. Back to the Celica, I liked the fact that the car looked ‘light’ and lean. It was around at the same time as the third iteration of the MR2, which was then a mid-engined roadster, rather than a coupe. I liked that too for similar reasons – there was a minimalism to the detailing and the body-work looked shrink-wrapped over the mechanical bits. The Celica was rather more obviously styled, but it was a big leap forward over what came before.

  2. As I’ve said before elsewhere the hidden rear door handles on the 156 ruined what should have been a beautiful sporty saloon. All it needed was 4 chrome handles with that lovely tactile clunk as you pressed the button to make a really beautiful car.

    1. Back in 99/00 both my boss and brother in law had silver 156’s. I always felt those hidden handles spoilt the car for me and I never liked it the way it seemed everyone else did. That said despite replacing the engine (1.8) my brother in law loved the car and reluctantly replaced it with a 159 about 4 years ago.

  3. I hate hidden rear door handles, and love that Celica.

    High on the list of cars I wish I’d owned when they were new, but totally unsuited to my car requirements at the time. I’ve a feeling that even if I’d ignored practical considerations, I’d have gone for a Prelude instead.

    Odd thought: The last Celica seems like Toyota trying to make a Honda. The opposite almost applies to the final Prelude.

    1. Well, I always loved the rear door handles on the 156, mainly because I felt they, coupled with the way in which the feature line waxed and waned into the featured chromed from door handles served to accentuate the latter. It was also a unique feature at the time.

  4. I saw an unmolested second-generation Mister Two quite recently, and was thinking it has aged well, in that early-1990s Japanese way.

    These Celicas, on the other hand… nah. Not just because of the A-pillar, either. I always felt these looked cheaper than the T200 generation they replaced – more insubstantial and downmarket, something that should have worn a Scion badge in the US. And the rear aspect was all sorts of wrong. Stand-proud rear lamps should be banished from the lexicon of any designer who wants to be taken seriously.

    But frankly, I never thought Toyota topped the design of the first-generation Celica with any subsequent versions, even if (shameful secret alert) I have a sneaking suspicion for the 1989 generation, Camry engine and all.

  5. I must be a right plodder. Can’t find anything wrong with that A pillar. What obvious design error has Toyota committed?

    I love these vignettes. I now march around looking at rear plastic bumper cutlines. If it’s a saloon, then oblique angle cutline rather than horizontal reduces me to a frothing rage. DLO fail I was taught by Sajeev on TTAC, so I can confidently tut tut while in the salesman’s presence at a hunk of black plastic pretending to be glass. The new Camry is a prime example at the C pillar, and that’s before you meet the grille, fresh from a recent nightmare – there are two versions depending on model, and both frighten me as to the sanity of Akio Toyoda.

    So, I’m willing to learn; teach this inartistic old bloke exactly what is wrong here. The implementation looks on the face of it to be neat and well made, no squashed A-pillar extensions sneaking furtively beneath the fender or hood. But I’m no aesthete. Yet willing to learn the finer points.

    The car itself was a disaster, sporting either a cooking Corolla motor set on “Tame” like the present day CH-R or a screaming double-lift cam version of same, where Toyota’s version of VTEC came on at a lowly 6,000 revs, making the car useless for a bit of point-and-squirt in traffic unless one had one’s blood up and was proceeding in bottom gear at 40 km/h just ready to teach other road users a lesson. Mechanically it was a Toyota Matrix, plus it looked like an updated cheapy Paseo front wheel drive econobox not a Celica and felt insubstantial, so it’s no wonder nobody bought the thing, as excitement was not its forte. Set up to fail on purpose, I’d say. The Acura RSX available at the same time was in another league entirely, a bespoke body with good elbow room and decent-sized Honda engines willing to get up and go. They had presence too, looking particularly well made. Of course, Honda in its wisdom canned them, no doubt because Toyota left the coupe market and Soichiro’s descendants hadn’t an independent thought in their brains themselves, culminating in the sorry line-up of Acuras on sale today. Plus of course whiz-bang Civics where wide shutlines are a styling premise apparently, not because they’re cheap, no definitely not, we deny that entirely etc etc.

    1. The problem with A-pillar and mirror sail panel is the forced upward curve at the leading edge. It leads to a point where the door shutline and the A-pillar/wing panel meet. It’s messy. When I get to a PC thrn I’ll sketch the mess and a schematic alternative.

  6. I think the problem at the time and still is the Celica and its like weren’t really cheap or thrilling at that price. It’s not like people don’t want cheap and inexpensive coupes, what they don’t want is expensive and unattractive ones. And I always thought this generation looked like a cheap kit cat from the rear, and with the look of someone trying to match another makers rear lamps to lines that doesn’t really fit.

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