A true symbol of the years of Japanese domination in rally racing and a truly iconic car for several generations of enthusiasts, the Toyota Celica is one of the legends of rallying history. Ascott Collection now offers you this authentic model that raced in the 1992 World Rally Championship: a Celica ST185 driven by Carlos Sainz and his navigator Luis Moya. At the time, the pair were chasing their second world crown.
The Toyota Celica
The Toyota Celica made its first appearance in Japan, in 1970, before successive generations of the car spread beyond the Land of the Rising Sun. The Celica cars landed in the United States and Europe and quickly become excellent bases for rallying. Toyota immediately realized the potential benefits this represented and founded Toyota Team Europe (TTE) in 1975, to look after its competition programs in general, and its rallying division in particular.
The fourth version of the Celica (produced from 1986 to 1989) quickly became a reference for lovers of steeply winding paved roads, dirt tracks and gravelled surfaces. Toyota developed a four-wheel-drive turbo model for rallying, which was named the Celica ST-165. It was this car that earned the Japanese make its first successes: in 1990, Carlos Sainz made nine podiums (in 12 races) and chalked up four wins: in Greece, New Zealand, Finland and finally England. He became World Champion.
In 1991, Carlos Sainz could do no better than finish in second place, beaten by Juha Kankkunen, despite winning five rallies that season with the Celica: Monte Carlo, Portugal, Corsica, New Zealand and Argentina.
1992: The Toyota Celica ST185 is born
After this harvest of successes and the excellent results obtained by the Celica GT-Four ST165, Toyota Team Europe developed the ST185 for the 1992 season, a “revised and corrected” Celica designed to achieve glory once again and win the constructors’ title. It acquired a few extra horse-power, with the new car being fitted out with a reinforced version of the 3S-GTE engine that developed around 200 hp – a small gain of 15 hp compared to the ST165.
But the greatest part of the work lay elsewhere: TTE carried out major modifications to improve the efficiency of the cooling system. Several times, the Celica ST165 had had timing belt issues due to excessive heat. As a result, on the ST185, they reinforced the cooling system so as to prevent the timing belt from melting. Increasingly large air ducts were incorporated at the front. The bumper was lighter and the bonnet was quite distinct from the old version.
The work done during the 1991/1992 winter paid off: Carlos Sainz finished second at Monte Carlo, behind Didier Auriol and his Lancia Delta HF Integrale. “El Matador” confirmed that the Japanese make was still in the fight! After a podium in Portugal and then two victories in Kenya and New Zealand, the Spaniard arrived in Argentina leading the Championship, with his Celica painted in the henceforth legendary Repsol colours. It is this car, that he drove during the 1992 Rally of Argentina, that we are offering for sale here – a car that was entered for just one race, as was customary with Toyota at the time!
Toyota Celica ST185 Group A JT164STJ500014915
The 1992 edition of the Rally of Argentina boiled down to a battle between Didier Auriol and Carlos Sainz. A battle that could have gone Sainz’s way, but which did not play out that way in the end due to a simple puncture.
In the first special stage, Sainz outclassed his competitors and led a pack of five Lancias by three seconds. In the second special stage, Auriol got the better of him, but only by one tiny second. Didier Auriol took the lead with the best times in special stages 3 and 4, but Carlos Sainz remained confident. With the car’s increased reliability and the work that had been done to improve both its differential and its manoeuvrability, he could dream of victory, as in 1991.
But at the start of the rally’s second day, he had a puncture when he drove over a rock as he was leaving Tucuman. He lost over a minute, which he never managed to make up. Several special stages were cancelled because there were too many spectators along the roadside. With the stage not being timed, some spectators were so angry that they attacked the drivers as they drove past at reduced speed. Carlos Sainz, following Didier Auriol, was heckled and had stones, chunks of wood and smoke bombs thrown at him. However, there was more fear than harm, even though Carlos Saint later confessed that he was happy not to have been held up on the way…
With some of the special stages being cancelled, Sainz had no chance to catch up with Auriol, despite recording the best times in the last three timed sectors. He ultimately lost by a little over two minutes.
After thus finishing second in the 1992 Rally of Argentina, the Celica ST185 (chassis JT164STJ500014915) that we are putting up for sale here was never again entered by Toyota in the World Rally Championship. It was bought from TTE in 1994 and imported to Italy to race in national rallies, taking part in several competitions there. The car was then bought once more and imported to France in 2006. It was restored and repainted in its original Repsol livery. Having rarely been used since then – and never in a race – the Celica ST185 of 1992 Rally of Argentina fame is now in search of a new owner. A batch of various spare parts comes with the car, including some special “dirt-track” suspensions and a set of rims.
Price upon request