1988 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo Was a Learjet for the Road


From the November 1987 situation of Automobile and Driver.

Loads of good issues are available spray cans as of late, however status is not one among them. Status nonetheless comes the old style method, borne on waves of public esteem. Ripples of honorable point out aren’t sufficient; it takes crashing waves of approbation to loft particular person, place, or factor into the celebrated higher ranks.

Think about the automotive enterprise. All people is aware of the celebrated and near-prestigious manufacturers as a result of—nicely, you simply know. That is how status works. Mercedes has received it, and so does Porsche. Cadillac is slipping. Honda is a comer, regardless of its low-price stigma. And the oddsmakers are actually touting Ford as a protracted shot.

Within the ceaseless jostling for a spot on the status dais, Toyota has but to search out its opening. The corporate does the arduous issues of carmaking conspicuously nicely. Its vehicles are as dependable because the yen. Their high quality is outstanding. Their noise and vibration isolation is great. Their controls—significantly the throttle linkages and the shifters—are splendidly correct and freed from friction. And a few Toyota fashions are licensed heroes. When was the final time something lower than bouquets was tossed to Mister Two?

But the tidal waves of status nonetheless maintain their distance from Toyota. What’s an formidable and proficient automotive firm to do?

How about constructing a showcase? A automotive up to now past its maker’s earnest fame that the world lastly wakes up and takes discover? A automotive so seamless in its advantage and heroic in its content material that status can now not be denied?

How about a couple of boatloads of unique Celica All-Trac Turbos to place some juice into the identify “Toyota”?

This can be a fairly great automotive, this hormone-injected Celica. And we are saying that with the complete realization that one man’s great is one other man’s “Hmmm, fascinating, however …”

The present Celica is a slick rendition of the traditional two-plus-two, hatchback-coupe concept. “All-Trac” is Toyota’s American­-market time period for four-wheel drive. And “Turbo” on this case denotes a sixteen-­valve four-cylinder with 1998 cc of displacement, all overrated and intercooled to 190 hp. The result’s a horsepowerful four-wheel-driver of modestly extroverted look.

All of this mechanical pleasure has been extruded by means of Toyota’s distinctive sense of how a particular automotive ought to behave. The Celica All-Trac Turbo is comfy, quiet, and refined—the type of automotive you could possibly commerce in a BMW for with out feeling as if you happen to’d taken a step down.

In different phrases, that is the gentleman’s all-weather interceptor.

So…whaddaya assume? Does the introduction of this showcase change your appraisal of Toyota?

Most likely the reply comes right down to the gentlemanliness of your automotive style. If you happen to assume alongside the strains of accountable transit—say, a greater Audi Turbo Quattro for fewer bucks—that is the automotive. Its value has but to be introduced, however we’re guessing about $20,000 for an All-Trac with a full complement of kit, together with leather-based upholstery, an influence skylight, and anti-lock brakes. When the climate is threatening and you could get to the opposite aspect of Nebraska within the least period of time, the Celica All-Trac Turbo is the subsequent smartest thing to wings.

Okay, however for example your pursuits run to extra (heh-heh) vivid pursuits, like rat racing on Mulholland Drive and pushing your personal private g-sensor into the crimson zone. The calculator suggests {that a} 190-hp Celica needs to be 41 p.c extra zowie than the 135-hp Celica GT-S, which clicked off a 0-to-60 time of 8.1 seconds in our final check and cleared the quarter-mile in 16.0 seconds at 85 mph. Forty-one p.c greater than that ought to seize your full consideration and maintain it for ransom.

However the Celica All-Trac Turbo goals greater than that. Toyota, in any case, is a high-minded automotive firm. Why create a mere sprinter whenever you’re able to a decathlon champ?

Remembering again to the beginning of the challenge, Toyota engineers say they weren’t after a automotive that was merely highly effective. Nor did they focus solely on 4­-wheel drive. They needed a robust automotive that might put all of its energy to the highway, but wouldn’t compromise the refinement that Toyota sees as a part of its identification.

All of this was completed in due time—at a price. The All-Trac Turbo you see within the images crossed the size at 3295 kilos, up 592 kilos from the entrance­-wheel-drive GT-S. An actual weight comparability is hard, although, as a result of sure GT-S choices are commonplace within the new automotive. Toyota says the bottom All-Trac Turbo weighs 532 kilos greater than the bottom GT-S, and there can be little level in splitting the hairs any finer. You get the thought. Loads of bulking up is required of a decathlon contender.

All of this weight stems from three sources. Horsepower provides weight. The engine block has been strengthened, for instance, and the turbocharger and its plumbing and its air-to-water intercooler all add kilos. Horsepower provides weight to the drivetrain as nicely. A 190-hp clutch weighs greater than a 135-hp clutch.

Then there may be the four-wheel-drive system. Toyota did not lower any corners right here. It is a full-time association, with a middle differential. A viscous coupling limits the slip of the entrance wheels relative to the rears, and the prop shaft by means of the middle of the automotive consists of three items and 4 U-joints, a design that retains driveline noise and vibration from disturbing the passengers. Extra isolation has been offered by mounting the rear suspension and differential on a subframe.

The third supply of weight has to do with Toyota’s view of how a Toyota showcase ought to behave. It needs to be a silken surprise: no buzzes from the four-cylinder, no thrums from an excited underbody. So darn close to all the things within the automotive was stiffened up a bit. The engine-mount brackets are stiffer, the mounts themselves have been retuned, the floorpan is all new and stiffer, and the entrance construction is stiffer. It is the outdated story: a couple of kilos right here, a couple of there, and fairly quickly you are making deep tracks.

Toyota engineers are philosophical about all this further weight. They are saying that refinement inevitably provides kilos, and that there was some arduous bargaining between the engineering division and the product-planning division about how refined the All-Trac Turbo needs to be. They assume the compromise, because it was lastly hammered out, is the lightest it may very well be at this degree of refinement.

The testers on this journal are much less philosophical. Those that place a excessive worth on low mechanical ruckus are impressed. From the texture of the engine, you’d by no means know it is a 4: there may be nearly no vibration to offer away the clamorous little secret. The exhaust word—and maybe the heft and frequency of the facility pulses—are the one clues. That is an unique with charm-school manners. The online impact is slightly like a Learjet for the highway.

These of us who place a excessive worth on the zowie issue are impressed, too. The All-Trac Turbo betters the Celica GT-S’s 0-to-60 time by 0.8 second and its quarter-­mile efficiency by 0.4 second and three mph. The All-Trac’s high velocity is 135, up 13 mph. These aren’t the 41-percent enhancements that the calculator predicts, however they will just do wonderful. On the earth of gents’s interceptors, this new Toyota is true up there with such luminaries because the BMW 325is.

The All-Trac would not all the time shine so brightly, nevertheless. On the skidpad it turns in solely 0.74 g, down from 0.82 within the GT-S. And its stopping distance from 70 mph is 202 ft—the longest we have ever recorded for a automotive geared up with anti-lock brakes. Given the burden improve and the truth that the All-Trac wears the identical dimension rubber because the GT-S, such mediocre grip is not too stunning.

So, once more, whaddaya assume? Does the efficiency measure as much as the mission? We return to the thought of status, and to the associated notion of the gentleman’s all­climate interceptor. Status within the automotive sense often comes from efficiency you may’t use. What number of Testarossa speedo needles do you assume are nonetheless ready to see that final 50 mph of arc on the dial? What number of Corvettes are whipped by means of the twisties at 0.86 g? What number of All-Trac Turbos will likely be required to get to the opposite aspect of Nebraska as rapidly as doable in inclement climate? Possibly the purpose of exotics, whether or not they’re Ferraris or Toyotas, is that you could possibly…you could possibly actually do the deed…if you happen to needed to. In any other case, they’re merely heartwarming machines for piercing the dullness of Interstate journey.

The Celica All-Trac Turbo by no means fails to be heartwarming. Its inside is little modified from the GT-S, however it appears excellent, with white-on-black gauges, slick controls, and a relaxation for the left foot. Due to a multiplicity of seal and steering-column changes, one dimension suits all. The seat cushion tilts. An influence button on the console deftly summons lumbar assist and fine-tunes the higher aspect bolster for roughly lateral restraint. With the elective leather-based, the All-Trac is a first-class compartment for the driving force.

The All-Trac’s exterior look is simply sufficient totally different from the GT-S’s to sign the knowledgeable observer with out attracting the gawkers. From the bumper line down, the plastic panels take a extra streamlined form. Spherical fog lights in entrance and an “All-Trac” decal on the tail are outstanding indicators. Few will discover the V ranking of the tires.

The satisfaction of this automotive are largely wired into the driving force’s workplace. It suits so nicely. Its controls are so slick. There’s so little ruckus from beneath. But whenever you push on the pedal, there may be that extravagant surge that eludes the test-track devices. Furthermore, the All-Trac is sort of a bullet on the highway. It has a really positive sense of straight forward on the Interstate, but it is agile within the twisties as nicely. We did not have an opportunity to attempt our pre-introduction pattern in nasty climate, however it comported itself neatly within the dry at Portland Worldwide Raceway. A very good four-wheel-driver ought to go about its enterprise with out calling consideration to itself, and the All-Trac does precisely that. Its solely racetrack clue to four-wheel drive is its lack of throttle steering. This is without doubt one of the few vehicles round by which the correct pedal makes you go sooner or slower, and nothing else.

In conceiving this automotive, Toyota gave itself one of many hardest assignments in automobiling—the refined efficiency automotive—and it succeeded admirably. However will its achievement convey status? Not unanimously, we predict. “Excellent efficiency” can be broadly appreciated by the go group, and “excellent refinement” is the perfect of the cruisers. However refined efficiency, by definition, will come up brief on each parts of the mix.

So, if the staffers of this journal are any indication, the Celica All-Trac Turbo is without doubt one of the most controversial vehicles of this season. Let’s simply go away it at this: If you happen to agree with the mission, you may delight within the machine.



1988 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo

Automobile Kind: front-engine, four-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 3-door coupe

As Examined: $20,000 (est.)

Choices: anti-lock brakes, air-con, energy sunroof, leather-based seats, sound system with programmed tone management, cruise management

turbocharged and intercooled, DOHC 16-valve 4-inline, aluminum block and heads, port gasoline injection

Displacement: 122 in3, 1998 cm3

Energy: 190 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 190 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm

5-speed guide


Brakes, F/R: 10.0-in vented disc/10.6-in disc

Tires: Dunlop SP Sport D87M

F,R: 205/60VR-14


Wheelbase: 99.4 in

Size: 171.9 in

Width: 67.3 in

Top: 49.8 in

Passenger Quantity: 79 ft3

Cargo Quantity: 16 ft3

Curb Weight: 3295 lb


60 mph: 7.3 sec

100 mph: 6.7 sec

1/4-Mile: 15.6 sec @ 88 mph
Outcomes above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.2 sec.

Rolling Begin, 5–60 mph: 3.8 sec

Prime Gear, 30–50 mph: 13.4 sec

Prime Gear, 50–70 mph: 11.4 sec

Prime Pace: 135 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 202 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.74 g 

Metropolis/Freeway: 20/25 mpg (est.)


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