When it debuted in late 1970, the Toyota Celica was aimed squarely at drivers. Ignoring for a moment the exclusive 2000 GT, the distinction is important, because to that point Toyota customers had strictly been in it for the econobox Corollas and slightly upscale but no less economical Coronas that had been populating American roads for half a decade. Based on the staid Carina sedan, the Celica was something altogether new for Toyota—a stylish, sporty little notchback coupe the company viewed as its answer to the Ford Mustang. Which is to say, a fun car built atop a boring one. Power came from a series of four-cylinder engines, and bodystyles eventually included a hatchback, or liftback, in Toyota parlance.
With its long flat nose and laid-back roofline, the second-generation Celica furthered the car’s sporty pretensions. In an effort to pit it against the Datsun 280ZX, in 1979 Toyota fitted the Celica with a single-overhead-cam 2.6-liter inline-six and added Supra badging to help distinguish it as something more than sporty. A proper sports car, even. But it wasn’t quite that. The Celica Supra was too luxurious, too lifeless on the road, and too ambiguous to be great. In its August 1979 review, Road & Track dismissed it as “nothing but a boulevard GT.”
Thankfully for enthusiasts, Toyota kept at it, and the next Celica Supra, internally designated A60, debuted in 1982 as a completely different beast, all hard edges and sharp corners, with pop-up headlights and a cockpit that absorbed its passengers. By this point the company had perfected the twin-cam six, and the 150-hp 2.8-liter unit fitted in the Supra was silky smooth. So, too, were the Supra’s road manners, thanks to a fully independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. “The new Supra is a nearly perfect car,” wrote Car and Driver’s David E. Davis at the time.
As nearly perfect Supras go, our Sale of the Week is right up there. This 36,000-mile 1983 model sold via Bring A Trailer on September 27 for $24,250.
The Supra, in Super White over a Terra Cotta cloth interior, lived most of its life in New York with a long-term owner who clearly babied it. The seller (who was offering the car through a broker with the BAT handle The_Dude_Abides) owned it for less than a year and in that time correctly refinished the bumpers, side mirrors, and rear wing, as well as the right-rear lower quarter panel, and the left inner-door jamb. Slight damage was noted on the right rocker panel. The car came with a fair amount of paperwork, including original purchase documents, and one video depicted the pop-up headlights in perfect working order.
Original equipment includes that 5M-GE twin-cam inline-six and a five-speed manual, along with a limited-slip differential, 14-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, and 8-way power seats. (The seats and the aggressive flared fiberglass wheelarches, it should be noted, are two elements that distinguish the P-type A60 Supra from the less desirable L-type.) In the comments, The Dude did note that there was no record of a timing belt change ever having been done, and that the seller would replace the car’s aged tires for the buyer.
Hagerty values these cars at around $36,600 for a #1 (Concours) example, and $22,100 for one in #2 (Excellent) condition, and it is the latter where this Supra seems to fall, and more likely in #2+ range. The very first comment when the listing went live said, “This will go right through $30k.” The very last comment, when the bidding was at $24,250 not five minutes before the auction closed, was posted by the same commenter: “It’s about to get real. Buckle up.” Clearly, someone was waiting for the heavens to part over this Supra, but it just didn’t happen. The auction closed with a whimper, not a bang. Which is great news for the buyer.
Past BAT sales of A60 Supras have seen them go for much higher, including a 63,000-mile ’86 that made $45,000 earlier in the month. Back in March, a different ’86 with 92,000 miles, minor rust, and curb-rashed wheels sold for the same money as our feature car.
But was this Supra a steal? Well, since real-world sales involve enough variables (like that biggie, emotion) to disconnect them somewhat from price guide figures, it’s easy to make the case that it certainly could have gone for more, even a lot more. Conversely, one could also argue that the noted minor rocker damage and the needed timing belt replacement put this car right where it should be. We’re going to err on the side of bargains, however. Because it appears that very soon, this Supra will indeed go for more, as the buyer is not the end user here but is instead a broker of classic cars to the Middle East. The Supra is already listed for $35,000 on his Instagram sales page. Assuming he does indeed sell it on for that price, the $24,250 BAT result was absolutely a steal—and a tidy profit.
Let’s just hope whoever ultimately ends up with this crisp Supra services that timing belt and then enjoys the heck out of it for years to come.