Cruising Nisei Style

As I mentioned in my end of year review story, one of the things I enjoyed most about Speedhunting in 2015 was getting the chance to produce a lot more car spotlight stories for you guys. And seeing as how the current event schedule is pretty quiet, I figured now was a good time to take a look at some more cool cars from last season’s events, starting with a lovely little first generation Toyota Celica I caught at the Street Neo Classics show in SoCal.

Neoclassics-Show-27 copy

While it has no over-the-top modifications, this is easily one of the most tasteful and well-executed classic Celicas in LA.

Neoclassics-Show-29 copy

The liftback body style of the Celica actually didn’t hit American shores until 1976, some three years after it was introduced in Japan. And that meant that all US-market liftbacks wore the larger, more obtrusive bumpers that American crash standards mandated.

Neoclassics-Show-30 copy

However, the owner of this car has rightfully swapped his bumpers and trim over for earlier Japanese market pieces, something which in my opinion is an absolute must when it comes to first gen Celicas.

Neoclassics-Show-23 copy

And the super-tasteful exterior is further complemented by a set of 15-inch SSR mesh wheels with Yokohama S.Drive tires. There’s no need for aggressive fender flares here.

Neoclassics-Show-26 copy

The other key change is inside the engine bay. All US-market Celica liftbacks were powered by the SOHC 20R engine, but this one is sporting Toyota’s wonderful DOHC 2T-G.

Neoclassics-Show-25 copy

With a pair of Mikuni side-drafts feeding the twin cam four, the old school Celica must be a bundle of fun to drive.

Neoclassics-Show-24 copy

Needless to say, the interior is just as clean as the exterior and the engine bay.

Neoclassics-Show-31 copy

And not only is this Celica cool on its own, it’s a perfect example of the cars that Japanese Americans from Southern California modified in the ’70s and ’80s, long before the terms ‘tuner’ or ‘sport compact’ were used.

Here’s to all cars that know their roots and keep it real.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia_media



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Hey Mike,

Isn't that an 18rg motor and not a 2tg? The two engines do look the same, but the 18rg is the 2 litre engine with the water inlet on the same side as the carburettors and the 2tg is the 1600cc engine with the water inlet on the exhaust side of the head.

I sure wouldn't be running one of those engines without filters!

I also like the cheeky picture where the window is wound down to try and cover the exposed wiring in the passenger footwell!

Love the article!


Thanks for posting! I'm starting a restoration on a '76 coupe right now. The interior and engine bay are so immaculate... Definitely inspiring.


The Street Neo Classics was the most interesting show I've read on speedhunters this year, good to see one more spotlight from there :)

turbo BEAMS ae86

no stupid flare


@swampdonkey You're absolutely right! Even though its only about 25hp difference, it matters big time.


@swampdonkey Sure is an 18RG, the water outlet is always the giveaway!


Ah, the LB was always the best looking version in all Celica generations IMO.
As for this particular example, definitely a real beauty!

The only thing I would pick out... I prefer fender mirrors... :P


Perfect a Celica for me!


Great body the rear, reminds me of my 70 Mustang fastback.


hcram39 Hopefully they do it again this year!


@swampdonkey I stand corrected!

dan shroedingernog

can't believe they copied the mustang, easily the best sedan ever made


I'm working on a '77 LB right now. This is a great example, I hope they do this show again this year. The bumper is definitely a must for this car, I'm trying to hunt down a set of them.


I think this is one of those prime examples of Japanese nature to take inspiration from aglobe and make it their own. The firstmost observation any will note is the fastback similarities to the Mustang, but while that sticks in the back of the mind like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth, it still feels like it has undergone the proper transformations. Compact and given the proper mill, it almost begs to cruise the night scene or jaunt through the mountain passes. Those upturned bumpers, the tilt hood and natural flares are some of my favorite details of this generation of the Celica, and the owner really put in the time and care with this car to make it so presentable. Prime find, Mike!


Those rear lights (nicknamed banana) and the panel between them is also from an older JDM TA27 as the Gt badge panel flips down to reveal the petrol filler neck but you can see the Ra28 has a fuel door on the rear quater. 

This example looks very tidy! Wish my '76 Ra28 GT2000 engine bay looked as clean!


merrilljoe If I remember it correctly, the 1st gen EUDM Celica has the same bumpers


the car was very good 
really really like to see the car that shiny new car fits like made ​​for walking trailsthe car was very good" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> and very fast" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> mix of colors" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> from which to" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> make want pobud see hatnya" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> kecepatanya" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> was very nice ," rel="dofollow" target="_blank">  suitable for a "" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> sharp bend or not sharp I guess motorists like this is" very skilled in the speed I hope I can membilinya someday will whether there are new cars are better I" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> 'll wait for it , with a stylish car classic" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> style I" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> also like" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> to see would be whether there is a" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> car that is as fast and forius like in the " movie , the car very good car designed a way apparently hopefully there will be new cars more good and the price is quite pantastis then chances are I can membilinya the same as you have at this time