Finally! My New Celica GT-S: “Etyonne”
I cannot express the length of time in which I have wanted a 2000 Celica. Oddly enough, it didn’t happen when the car came out, but built up slowly over time as every time I passed one on the street, I thought to myself (or said aloud), “what a hot car”. Eventually my friends Li and Alvin let me drive theirs, somewhat recklessly I might add, (I apologize) and my love was complete. I almost zoned out while driving theirs, and they had to scream at me. Rightly so. But that’s how amazing the car is. So more years went by and I sort of relegated the car to the back of my mind as a “daydream” that would never happen. I even convinced myself that I didn’t need one, that it is a waste of money, that a car is dumb when there’s public transportation around, that it didn’t drive nearly as well as I remembered and that I was only imagining it’s greatness, in the way that you put something on a pedestal when you fixate on it. (Pic 1)
Then I came home to “visit” my parents. Quickly I saw that I needed a car, and running through the logic, I just couldn’t see the benefit of saddling myself with a $30k+ for a new car worthy of a “CEO”, which I would also think “this car sucks” or “that car is so hot” every time I passed a Celica on the road. It would be like being in a relationship with your second or third choice girl and passing the one you had a crush on every day, but were too afraid to ask her out. Having done that before, I decided that time in my life is over and I am going to get the car I want.
So I went looking at Celicas. Let me tell you, I should have bought it during 2010/2011. The market was flooded with their premium gas sucking butts because nobody could afford to operate them in the recession. I could have gotten a 50,000 mile model for less than $5k. Instead I ended up getting a 89,000 mile model for $5.9k and taxes, fees, etc. almost $7k all said. Anyway, after making an offer on another model with 66k miles, which was rejected (the dealership wanted $10k), I made the offer on this one after a dealership not only let me test-drive it, but let me “learn” to drive manual on it. Actually, it wasn’t that that sold me, it was the way I drove the Mazda 6 back home (6hrs) and the whole way imagined that I was driving the Celica. The Mazda 6 is a cushy car, but doesn’t hold a candle to the Mazda 3 and certainly not to the Celi. Anyhow, I ended up buying it not in spite of all the things that I could see wrong with it (a lot of things), but rather, because of them. I didn’t want to just sit in someone else’s old car without modifying it, and I knew that this one looked quite shabby cosmetically, so I would have to work on it. But I also thought, the problems were just cosmetic. So I bought it with my dad present, and attempted to first-time-manual drive it 6 hrs back to michigan. (I’ll leave out that it was totally coming apart at the seams on the drive back! (Fig 2))
Before going any further, let me tell you how awesome it is. Like all awesome things, it’s one of its kind and the number is decreasing. Toyota no longer makes Celicas and the greatest of these (or rather “near-greatest” (arguably the greatest is the four wheel drive Celica GT-Four ST205)) is the 2000 and 2001 GTS manual. As all the rest slowly give up their ghosts by one crash or another there are a limited cars remaining and we should all call them “limited edition” – and with all things limited edition, the price is going back up.
Driving (the experience)
I really thought that when I started driving the car, I would think, “oh… I wasted my money, what’s up with this?” But it turned out, that driving the car is amazing. This is the first time I can honestly say that I am “driving”. With most other cars, you think that you are driving, but what you really are is a slightly elevated priority passenger who passively and timidly makes requests that the vehicle eventually decides to carry out. (In the relationship between most cars and “drivers”, you are the girl, and the car is the man). In the relationship between me and my Celica, I am the man, and the moment I have a thought, nay, an emotion, my lovely lady Celica carries them out. For instance, I was driving down the on-ramp and there was a car ahead of me as well. Before I knew what I was doing, I accelerated right up behind him, pulled on the highway, passed him, passed into the left lane, passed another driver, and pull in front of everyone. I did that before I even had the chance to evaluate whether it was the right or safe thing to do. Afterwards I berated myself for being a slave to emotion and having no self control, but to be honest, I was also surprised and the responsiveness and the pure elation one can feel wielding a sword, or flying an F-15 on the freeway. If there is such a thing as air superiority for the road, this car has it.
As I mentioned, this car is in need of a bit of a restore job. And I’ve done a pretty spectacular job of replacing things on the cheap and not spending buku $$$ on parts and mechanics, even though the dealer told me everything was wrong with the car and that it should be hauled away as scrap. After that bit of panic and a 2nd, third, and fourth opinion, I’ve been progressing slowly on first restoring the car to stock, then after that, advancing and enhancing it, then treating it as a research platform. As I’ve fixed things here and there, I’ve felt more and more that the car is a great deal like me: a few quirky and broken things and here and there, but plenty of life and awesomeness left.
So without further ado, I introduce you to:
The White Night Fury.