During the 1970 Tokyo Motor Show, which opened on this day in 1970, Toyota unveil a new production sports car, the Toyota Celica. The name, derived from the Latin word for heavenly, would become a staple of the Toyota lineup from 1971 through 2006. When first introduced Toyota pulled a trick from Ford’s playbook, building a new sports car on the underpinnings of a more moderate vehicle. Like the Mustang being built on the Ford Falcon, the first generation Toyota Celica shared components with the Carina. Unlike the Falcon/Mustang relationship, the Carina was also new for 1971.
In 1978 Toyota began production of a higher end model, the Toyota Celica XX, which would evolve into a model all its own, the Supra by 1986. That same year the Celica, in its fourth generation by that point, would transform from a rear-wheel-drive to a front-wheel-drive vehicle with a turbo all-wheel-drive option. The seventh and final generation of the Toyota Celica came to market in 1999. Starting in mid 2005 exporting ended but remained on the sales floor of Japanese dealers for the time being. Toyota Celica history came to an end when the final one left the factory on April 21, 2006.