A warm welcome back to Justin Time, who has penned a second update on his Toyota Celica T230. Fill your boots.
The second report on a long-term car is like a band’s second album. In ten years, this update will be read as frequently as The Stone Roses’ Second Coming album is played today.
This report focuses on living with the car. We all want to read about the first date, which sounded amazing, where sparks flew; not the second date, when they revealed that their favourite TV show is Space Force.
But it’s the head’s and not the heart's turn to write. When the 2031 reader does buys a classic turn-of-the-century Toyota Celica T230, they'll want to know whether it will work as a car, not just as a pretty ornament on the driveway.
Back here in 2021, I have to live with the car, so the Editor (yessir) has asked me to tell you about it as a daily driver. I’m going to start with the trunk and walking boots. Cue the sound of hundreds of readers applying the Alt-Tab shortcut...
Walking boots and velour
For the two of you remaining, I am astonished that none of the old Celica T230 reviews I can access on the net talk about that fantastic area at the back of the boot where you can keep filthy walking boots away from the velour covering the rest of the area.
This may not be relevant to readers whose idea of a good walk is from the front door of Harvey Nicks to the taxi rank opposite, but if like me you have to (and like to) take strolls in the country fields that lie between your house and the village shop, this is an unexpectedly good thing.
The boot offers a proper hatchback and the size is remarkably generous for a coupé. This means I have no need to use the MPV to go to the village shop or to stock up with the groceries the supermarket failed to deliver. Additionally, the rear seats can actually fit a human form rather than just a foetus.
Granted, they are best for children of a primary school age. With the front passenger seat a little forward, there is a ‘cat flap’ for your little human kitten to escape without having to bend over the front seat, given the long, wide-opening doors. Eat your heart out, Mini Clubman R55. The Celica T230 can do families too, albeit small ones.
Celica T230: not an SUV
You sit in a low driving position, much like a go-cart, so it’s like driving below the road surface, what with all the SUVs on the road. You can’t even look over a Mini, when they attempt to sneak onto a roundabout from a dual carriageway where everyone careers around like it’s Copse Corner.
What is it with drivers wanting to look down on everyone else from behind their steering wheel and drive as if they are on the top floor of a double decker bus?
But at least I can work out the Celica ventilation system without needing a PhD. You adjust the temperature, speed of fan and where it points at. No need to worry about navigating multiple touchscreen menus to get to the heater controls, then working out whether it’s left or right side. Or whether or not you want the air to blow Lavender or Vanilla, just before you crash into a tree.
Equally the wipers don’t have an IQ, and so don’t come on unexpectedly. Nor do the headlights for that matter, so you have to remember to put them on. Post-it note on dashboard, check. At least the clocks have gone forward, so there's less of that driving in the dark thing.
Heart rules head
Which is another thing. You won't be driving too fast at night along unlit country lanes, as headlight power in those days was measured in units of candles. Oh, and on the subject of wipers, why did Toyota even bother with the rear one, which clears a gap the size of a small envelope?
As for the infotainment system: it’s called a speedometer, rev counter and petrol gauge. Oh, and with one push of the heater button, you can check the outdoor temperature (or just roll down the window and stick you head out, which is about as quick). But I never use the stereo as I am addicted to listening to that engine rev, especially above 4,000rpm. The car always feels like it’s doing 30mph more than it is, especially as sound insulation is in short supply.
But in the end, the heart always wins over. Look back at it over your shoulder as you walk away from it in the work car park after another fun drive, surrounded by humdrum SUVs and bland hatchbacks, and that SUV driver blocking the view. All is forgiven.