Japanese Coupes – 1974 Toyota Celica 18RG and 1972 Mazda 1200

Recently, the niche Japanese cars that were interesting oddball remnants from a time when their manufacturers were still finding their way in foreign (to them) markets have skyrocketed in price, such that even some projects are no longer affordable to the average enthusiast on a budget (here’s looking at you, Mazda RX series cars). And that’s really a shame, because the Japanese did produce some interesting and sometimes very weird cars. While the Toyota Celica was not particularly weird, it was an attractive little coupe that had some interesting features. Moreover, through attrition they’ve become quite rare, and there’s nothing like not seeing yourself coming and going to give you the warm and fuzzies, and super-extra-double points for being able to pull that off in a Toyota. You can find this 1974 Toyota Celica ST for sale for $2500 in Everett, WA (and listed under Vancouver, BC for some reason).

1974 Toyota Celica left front

This is the desirable version with the little chrome smiley bumpers, and it should be pretty easy to toss the rubber Dagmars. It’s also got those gorgeous, elegantly slim door handles, and a curvy fender line that gets lost in the crappy flat black paint job. The car appears to be fairly straight and complete, although it does have some rust, including along the rear fender. Gold mesh rims are included, as is some sort of performance exhaust.

1974 Toyota Celica engine

But the piece de resistance of this car is its engine – a 2-liter, double overhead cam dual carburetor four-cylinder with a Yamaha designed head, putting out 145hp and 130 lb.-ft. of torque. The original ST came with a 90hp OHC four, so this engine combined with the 5-speed transmission makes for quite an upgrade. The seller also has a pair of doors, a long vent hood (said to be rare), and an extra 18RG with 5-speed. The engine appears to have the intake ports blocked with rags, and hopefully the sparkplug wells too, so hopefully the engine is not locked up.

1974 Toyota Celica right rear

Critically, the shock towers under the hood appear solid, but there is some less-critical rust under the passenger window trim. Check out that excessively heavy-duty trailer hitch – what were they towing with this car? You can just imagine the 1970s lifestyle commercial – mustachioed young gentleman at the boat ramp with his compact sailboat, and a young bell-bottom-wearing hottie trying to chat him up.

All that said, if a twin cam, twin carb coupe is too much like those annoying GTVs and 2002s for you, how about something a little more plebeian, but still just as unusual, if not more so? The Mazda Familia first came to the United States in its second FA2 iteration, badged the 1200 for the piston engine, and R100 for the rotary. Perhaps famous for being one of the first Mazdas here, or for its rotary sibling, the 1200 is frequently quite expensive. However, this seller seems to have overshot the market at his previous $5500 asking price, and is now down by $2000. You can find this 1972 Mazda 1200 for sale for $3500 in Langley, BC.

1972 Mazda 1200 right front

Aside from its hideous hubcaps, which look like some you might find on a Ford Maverick or similar, this is a tidy little design, if somewhat bland and in the idiom of small European sedans like the Opel Kadett. With only 58hp you won’t be going anywhere fast, but the competition (Opel, Datsun 1200, VW Beetle) were not terribly quick, either. This particular car appears to have been a dinghy for a motorhome, shows 74,000 miles on the odometer, and has been in Canada since 1973. It has been in storage since 1994, and comes with either the blown 1.2 four-cylinder, or a crate 1.3. So unless you’re an originality nut, splurge and go for the 10 extra horsepower of the 1.3.

1972 Mazda 1200 interior

The interior looks fairly intact, so you might get away with an engine install, the usual hydraulic recommissioning, and perhaps a thorough interior cleaning and re-dye of the carpet. That would at least get you into the debug phase. Throw the ugly wheels in the garage, fit some Panasports and work out a dual carb setup and you might have a fun little weekend car.


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2 Responses to “Japanese Coupes – 1974 Toyota Celica 18RG and 1972 Mazda 1200”

  1. Lyle Watkins Says:

    Very interested in a 1971.5 through 1973 Celica. Please contact me. 7788669417

  2. Carl Barnett Says:


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