Like the majority of Group A rally machinery, Toyota’s Celica GT-Four lives – rather unfairly – in the shadow of the Delta Integrale. Considering that Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol all took WRC drivers’ titles behind the wheel of Celicas, and Toyota won two Manufacturers’ championships in 1993 and 1994, it certainly proved itself a worthy challenger on the stages.
The third and final ‘ST205’ incarnation – launched in 1994 – is by far the best-developed and most effective road-going Celica. Honed in the wind tunnel, that extremely tall rear wing added a whopping 50kg of downforce at 60mph, although the optional riser blocks could be removed to restore some of the visual subtlety. Powered by the turbocharged (and charge-cooled) 2.0-litre 3S-GTE engine, with Yamaha-developed cylinder head, it produced 255bhp in standard road trim, which coupled with a super-grippy permanent four-wheel-drive system, makes this one seriously rapid Toyota.
And that’s exactly what we have here. Imported to the UK in around 2007, this 1994 Japanese-market GT-Four is one of the 2500 ‘WRC-edition’ cars built to comply with Group A regulations. That means it is fitted with much of the extra kit required to homologate the rally cars. This includes a (deactivated) anti-lag set-up, (deactivated) water injection system, (blocked-off) Intercooler spray bar, as well as those optional spoiler riser blocks and a small extra spoiler on the bonnet.
Although this car escaped many of the lairy modifications popular at the time, it has received some rally-inspired tweaks since. The wheels are period-correct lightweight Speedlines, while a less restrictive exhaust system has helped to free up a few more horsepower.
Bought by its current owner in 2012 from Celica rally car specialist Lewis Rally Sport, not much has changed since. Keeping the car as close to the original spec as possible has been a priority, and it has been a case of using and enjoying the GT-Four and improving it along the way. Almost all of the suspension has been replaced in the last three years with genuine Toyota parts to freshen it up, with only very minor mechanical issues cropping up. It is still a Toyota after all…
This also has the added intrigue of being the generation of Celica that got Toyota banned from the WRC. After being found to be fitted with an incredibly clever air-restrictor bypass, the rally car could run significantly higher levels of boost.