Model: Tomica Celica Turbo
Line: Classic Black Box No. 65, 1979
Why I am featuring it:
The Toyota Celica and I have a history.
My mother’s first new car purchase was a 1981 Celica ST in copper metallic. She loved that notchback Japanese coupe for 14 years before a fourth child forced her to sell it, its replacement a plebeian ’95 Geo Prizm Base (yes, Base was the trim level).
Nine years ago I was cruising Craigslist to kill time while on a job and an ’81 Celica GT jumped out of my Blackberry and flicked me on the nose. While it was the sportier fastback, the color matched and it appeared to be in near-mint condition with only 91k miles on the 2.4L 22R engine. As an added bonus, it was only 45 minutes away. I called the seller immediately and arranged to meet that night. As soon as he pulled into the lot with it, I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist. The best part was driving it home on the plates that came off my mom’s car, 16 years earlier. Yes, they were significantly expired, but it was worth the risk.
For eight years, I sparsely drove the car. When I finally sold it early last year, I had added only a few thousand miles to the odometer, the longest trip being to Saratoga Springs for a Hemmings Sports & Exotic Show. It made the nearly 400 mile round-trip with the expected Toyota reliability, despite being 36-years-old. The woman I sold it to had the exact, and I mean exact, same car she would use for period-correct movie sets.
So back to the car you see before you. I first saw a similar silhouette-style Celica posted to Mac Ragan’s Instagram a few months ago. I went back and forth with Mac a few times, as I’d never seen the car before, and he provided me with a few eBay links. The car, a Dome Celica Group 5 racer, was based off the RA40 that was similar to the car I had owned. Well, similar in the fact if you squinted, you could sort of make out the shape beyond the bulbous fenders, enormous wing, and monster wheels. The toy car also carried a significant price tag, especially if you want it in the authentic black instead of the blue recolor.
But again, that’s not the car posted here. Instead of crushing my diecast budget for the month, I stumbled upon this earlier Celica racer, the LB Turbo. Based off a real attempt at victory (which it only had minor successes), the LB Turbo was a Group 5 racecar of the first-generation Celica…the one that looked like a Ford Mustang. The colorway pictured is accurate to the 1:1.
Since my story relied heavily on a Tomica I don’t have yet, I haven’t much else to say other than there is a world of early Tomicas whose subject matters have long been lost to time. It’s nice to see a small piece of that history has made its way to my collection.