Which Hue for You? Sky-Blue Mazda or Lemon-Yellow Toyota?
Though slow to make a name for themselves in the US market, the Japanese were well on their way to being big players here in the late seventies and eighties, if not already well-established. Aided by the Datsun 240Z and Roadster, demand for inexpensive but-well engineered, built-in-Japan sports cars was very high by 1978, the year both of our featured cars were built.
Each one will provide similar RWD thrills with a distinctly nostalgic charm, but go about delivering the goods in very different ways. Both are the definition of “cheap and cheerful”, featuring cockpits with acres of (remarkably well-preserved) black vinyl, wind-em-up windows, no A/C, and—hallelujah—manual transmissions.
First up is an absolutely immaculate-looking ‘78 Toyota Celica GT. Usually we prefer the MKI Mini-Mustang or angular and striking MKIII cars when it comes to early Celicas, but this one’s stunning condition and great presentation help it worm its way into our hearts. Said to be a one-family car from new, it’s also claimed to wear its original paint, which is remarkable considering its apparent condition. With just over 41k on the odometer, the engine bay, undercarriage, and interior all look clean enough to eat off of, and that dash architecture is just plain cool. Though the ad is rife with questionable grammar and font sizes, the seller is very well-respected with 100% on over 2,000 transactions.
“And now for something completely different”—a beautiful, first-generation RX-7, said to be one of the first on these shores. Claimed to be a 1.5 owner car (the ad explains…), it has quite a few more miles than the yellow Toyota, but has been restored both cosmetically and mechanically. It looks fantastic on a set of lovely 15” Panasports, wearing a medium sky blue over coal black vinyl. A couple of very nice upgrades include rear discs and an LSD, both courtesy of a later-model GSL rear end. Though not quite as clean as the Celica, it appears to be solid underneath and relatively tidy in the engine bay. We’d love to slide open that relatively giant metal sunroof on a nice day and listen to the angry bee exhaust note bounce off of wildlife bordering a nice, long set of twisties.
Which Japanese classic is for you?
1978 Toyota Celica GT
1979 Mazda RX-7 GS