2003 Toyota Celica VVTI 1.8

Highlights

 
  • Only 37,000 miles from new
  • Two owners from new
  • Full main-dealer service history 

The Appeal


The Toyota Celica served well for many years as an accessible hatchback-coupé for enthusiasts who were young of age and/or humble of budget. Here was a car that was as painless to use day-to-day as any Toyota, yet tactile and agile when civilisation fades into your mirrors and a fine country road beckons. 

Earlier generations through the ‘80s and ‘90s built their reputation (and in one case, rules-bending infamy) on rallying success, but the seventh and hitherto final generation was a sleeker Celica aimed at younger buyers (particularly in America) that could potentially see as a basis for some customising shenanigans, as was so popular in the early 2000s. 
 
Two states of tune for the 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine were offered, with the high-spec ‘2ZZ’ engine developed in collaboration with Yamaha – but don’t be too sniffy about the base engine. As well as being both revvy and reliable, the 140PS ‘1ZZ’ engine has the distinction of also having been used in the 2008-2011 Lotus Elise S – not a bad bit of pub trivia!
 
The facelifted example you see here virtually turns back the clocks by almost 20 years, being in very nice condition with only two owners from new – the first of whom owned it for 11 years from January 2003 and the second from September 2014.



The History and Paperwork


  • V5 present; two owners from new
  • Lived first in Colchester, laterly in Leatherhead since 2014
  • MOT until February 2023, no advisories
  • Full main-dealer service history covering the car’s entire registered life
  • Recent oil change has not been recorded in the service book so as not to interrupt the line of Toyota stamps
  • Original factory handbooks
  • Invoices for maintenance included in paperwork

 

The Interior


  • All-original interior including OEM stereo
  • Immaculate boot area
  • Full-size  spare wheel and toolset included under the boot floor 
 
This very early facelift-model Celica features the Premium Pack black leather interior and, inevitably for such a low-mileage car, it hides its age remarkably well, being in excellent condition overall. The sunroof is reported to open and close just fine with no leaks, whilst the air conditioning is also said to work correctly and blow icy cold. There are minor wrinkles and wear marks on the driver’s seat bolsters and the steering wheel rim’s partially perforated leather shows a glossy smoothness, but otherwise there are vanishingly few signs of use in here, from headlining to carpet via that purposeful low-slung driving position.


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The Exterior 


  • Sport Silver Metallic paintwork in very good condition, as is rear spoiler
  • Original 16” alloys reconditioned very recently
  • Headlights show no sun damage
 
The metallic silver paintwork (very popular in the mid-‘00s) does a fine job of highlighting the T230 Celica’s design, from subtle defining creases and a pointed nose to that powerful swage line that flies out behind the mirror mounting like a high-speed slipstream. The relatively modest 16” wheels, meanwhile, quietly complement the aesthetics whilst giving enough room in the arch for a tall tyre sidewall that will improve ride comfort.
 
Condition-wise, the bodywork is as good as the interior, with only a contact mark on the passenger door mirror, one little scratch on the driver’s door mirror and one inch-long patch of very minor surface bubbling in the top-right corner of the tailgate shut to say against it. The rest of the exterior looks all but untouched and it remains a sharp, charismatic design to behold.



The Mechanics 

 
  • Exclusively serviced at Toyota main dealers; recent oil change
  • Tailgate struts recently replaced
  • No mechanical issues reported
  • 140PS, six-speed manual
 
The seventh-generation Celica remains an unsung hero of Japanese sport compact cars, with some road tests proclaiming it to have been the best-handling front-wheel-drive car on sale in the UK at the time it was launched and opinions about it today remaining high. All UK cars are manual, which is better suited to the free-revving naturally aspirated engine, and this one is reported to drive just as well as those excited reviews suggested at the time. No rattles, no glitches; just a light, responsive chassis, a tuneful 1ZZ-FE engine and a slick gear shift action.
 
It’s hardly surprising when you combine the low mileage with the quality of maintenance; according to the stamped service book, eight services were carried out by Colchester Toyota (the original dealer), then three by Lancaster Toyota and seven by Toyota Guildford. The paperwork also includes 17 of the original service invoices to boot. Whichever way you cut it, this is an exceptionally well loved Celica.



Summary

 
Anyone who wants to make every drive enjoyable without compromising on usability is looking at an absolute bargain here. Any T230 is a brilliant blend of spirited and sensible, but for a 19-year-old example to be in such good condition is something we very rarely see. This is also a remarkably early example of a facelift model with all the detail refinements that brought, so you are getting the last iteration of the much-loved Toyota Celica that there will, potentially, ever be. As the hunt goes on for the next Japanese ‘enthusiast car’ to start investing in, these won’t be a bargain forever.

Notice to bidders
This item is sold on an ‘As is Where is’ basis. The condition of this item is the opinion of the seller and may differ from your own opinion. Photos and listing descriptions are for guidance purposes only*.** Car & Classic do not warrant listing accuracy. Full inspection is recommended. Viewings are at the seller’s discretion. Buyer is responsible for delivery and collection of any item purchased.*

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 2003
  • Make Toyota
  • Model Celica VVTI 1.8
  • Colour Silver
  • Odometer 36,997 Miles
  • Engine size 1794
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Trade
  • Town Bramley
  • Location Hampshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
14 bids from 8 bidders
  • wl•••• £3,800 24/11/22
  • si•••• £3,700 24/11/22
  • RV•••• £3,600 24/11/22
  • Mi•••• £3,500 24/11/22
  • ga•••• £3,300 24/11/22
  • si•••• £3,000 24/11/22
  • Mi•••• £2,800 24/11/22
  • si•••• £2,500 23/11/22
  • ga•••• £2,000 20/11/22
  • si•••• £1,800 19/11/22

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