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Old 03-27-2021, 09:46 PM #1
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1977 Celica Liftback Build

Going to look at a 1977 Toyota Celica GT liftback project car. Motor is seized, but I already have plans to swap the motor. These things are crazy rare, only maybe 10 for sale in the entire country at any given time, not to mention not all are the hatchback. I've been looking for one of these for a couple years and one finally popped up for sale 2hrs away.
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Old 03-27-2021, 09:46 PM #2
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After looking for years I finally found my Celica. 1977 Liftback Celica GT, they only made the liftback for two years in the US and its commonly referred to as the Japanese Mustang.

Bought and trailered her home today and promptly started working on her. We didn't even get it unloaded in our driveway before the neighborhood kids congregated around it to ask questions, seeing if it was a Mustang. I don't think they were as interested when we said it was a Toyota. Even two of the neighbors I've never talked to came over immediately to ask about it.



First order of business, get the hood open as the latch wouldn't release it's grip. I disassembled most of the grill to remove the hinges, then I was able to snake a long section of rebar to nudge the latch near the windshield.





Looks like someone was trying to free up the engine by putting gas or diesel directly into the cylinder through the spark plug holes.



Got one seat tore out:



Not bad as far as rust goes:



That stupid bulky U.S. rear bumper has to go, as soon as I figure out how to remove it. Also the owner gave me those retro Celica wheels that are O.E. on the 2nd gen Celicas. Super cool design.



Gross carpet removed:







Retro dragon logo:







Rear seat looks okay from the topside but seeing underneath makes me want to trash it. Might keep it so someone can reference it to make a new one.



All the gross stuff is removed (mostly):



Next order of business, remove the rear bumper to make room for mounting a JDM 'smiley' bumper, and try to remove the sound deadening material from the entire floor. Its probably best to get it down to sheet metal so I can patch and paint any rust, weld in a roll cage easier if needed, and I can add deadening material afterward. Also, remove the motor and trans, and take a picture of it next to a 2020 Supra... My brother and I still live together, sickest driveway ever? We need to line them all up for a picture.
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1977 Celica Liftback - LFX Swap - Build Thread

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Old 03-27-2021, 10:02 PM #3
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Hell Yeah! What a find!

What are your plans as far as motor, suspension, etc.?
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Old 03-27-2021, 11:02 PM #4
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Hell Yeah! What a find!

What are your plans as far as motor, suspension, etc.?
Nice! I love the simplicity of these older ones. We had a 1979 Corolla SR5 coupe that is also a good looking model. You planning to make it look original?
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Old 03-27-2021, 11:20 PM #5
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Quote:
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Hell Yeah! What a find!

What are your plans as far as motor, suspension, etc.?
Not sure on the motor part yet, I know everybody will groan if I put an auto trans in it but I'm thinking of using an auto. Even with it being originally a GT with the 5 speed. So if I decide on the auto, then a modern auto would be best, so I'm thinking an LFX 3.6L V6 320hp from the new Camaros might be a good match. Its lightweight, common for Miata swaps, and can incorporate paddle shifters that give full manual gear control if desired. Also dirt cheap, and theoretically enough room to build a turbo kit down the road.

For the longest time I've also considered a 1UZ, or maybe a Beams which are common swaps for this car. Or 1JZ or 2JZ will fit too, but I think a little heavier. From what I've seen its not too hard to swap in any motor, I think they all pretty much fit. It just boils down to the transmission choice weighed with if I want to keep it all 'Toyota'.

Overall build intent is to make it as reliable as possible, daily-able, car shows, and maybe some form of racing but nothing serious planned there. Just a fun street toy that's easy to drive, which is my reasoning for the auto. Lowered a fair amount, might try doing my own body work and setting up a temporary spray booth, thinking some sort of flat grey color. Updated interior. We'll see.


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Nice! I love the simplicity of these older ones. We had a 1979 Corolla SR5 coupe that is also a good looking model. You planning to make it look original?
No it'll be pretty modified, really hard to find parts for anyway.

I'm open to input from anybody, this will be a learning experience for me, I just can't wait to drive this thing.
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1977 Celica Liftback - LFX Swap - Build Thread
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Old 03-28-2021, 12:25 AM #6
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Dude you're really living my dreams a few years ahead of me. In college right now, got my 06 V8 4WD 4runner which I'll build and keep forever, then I've always hoped to one day get one of these Celica GT liftbacks to build up with a 1UZ or 2JZ swap. Then obviously I'll add an LC500 to the collection when I win some money 1977 Celica Liftback Build. Congrats though man! Can't wait to see this build come along! I'm liking the idea of the flat grey color

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Old 03-28-2021, 07:08 AM #7
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Subscribed. Looking forward to seeing the progress.
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Old 03-29-2021, 11:27 AM #8
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I had a Celica GT liftback. Bronze color, manual. I kept my rear seats folded down enhance the sporty look. Those cars were called Baby Mustangs. I loved mine, drove and handled like a dream. Good luck with the build. Looking forward to the finished build!

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Old 03-29-2021, 05:24 PM #9
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I love these cars! I've got a ride in a Beams swapped one and a 1UZ one, the crew from Shadynasty. Those cars are pretty cool and slide well.

I'd probably do a 3UZ myself since the ECU's have been cracked....finally. I've been trying to find one up in Canada but trying to find one without it being rusted through is not fun.
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Old 03-31-2021, 06:19 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inv4drZm View Post
Not sure on the motor part yet, I know everybody will groan if I put an auto trans in it but I'm thinking of using an auto. Even with it being originally a GT with the 5 speed. So if I decide on the auto, then a modern auto would be best, so I'm thinking an LFX 3.6L V6 320hp from the new Camaros might be a good match. Its lightweight, common for Miata swaps, and can incorporate paddle shifters that give full manual gear control if desired. Also dirt cheap, and theoretically enough room to build a turbo kit down the road.

For the longest time I've also considered a 1UZ, or maybe a Beams which are common swaps for this car. Or 1JZ or 2JZ will fit too, but I think a little heavier. From what I've seen its not too hard to swap in any motor, I think they all pretty much fit. It just boils down to the transmission choice weighed with if I want to keep it all 'Toyota'.

Overall build intent is to make it as reliable as possible, daily-able, car shows, and maybe some form of racing but nothing serious planned there. Just a fun street toy that's easy to drive, which is my reasoning for the auto. Lowered a fair amount, might try doing my own body work and setting up a temporary spray booth, thinking some sort of flat grey color. Updated interior. We'll see.
Nice man! Can't wait to see what you do with it either way!

I used to be into 240sx's and always had a love for old celicas. Im sure you'll make the right choices down the road, just based on your Runner build. Sub'd for sure!
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Old 03-31-2021, 07:24 PM #11
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I had a 74, I think. I loved that car.
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Old 03-31-2021, 08:19 PM #12
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this is gonna be cool!
I ran a celica steering wheel with the dragon in my 81 Trekker for years.
Gave it to a guy doing a resto mod on his celica when i went to a detachable steering wheel.

Looking forward to seeing your progress.
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Old 03-31-2021, 09:51 PM #13
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Well 1986 was the newest coin I found in the interior, and odometer says 88659.3. It could have rolled over but its also plausible it has less than 100k.
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1977 Celica Liftback - LFX Swap - Build Thread

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Old 04-02-2021, 09:01 PM #14
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Today's science experiment. Use 30lbs of dry ice to remove factory sound deadening to access sheetmetal for patching rust. Also, remove everything in the dash. Everything.









Bye bye gauges:







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1977 Celica Liftback - LFX Swap - Build Thread
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Old 04-11-2021, 05:58 PM #15
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Bought a nice shop vac and cleaned out the interior the best I could, which I enjoyed way too much. Removed all the rear interior paneling.

Friday I bought the motor, transmission, ECM, and custom harness.
  • Motor is a 3.6L LFX from a 2014 Cadillac CTS with 50k miles. Buying a 'Camaro' motor is more expensive than any other rwd LFX, and this one happened to have all the accessories on it; alternator, PS pump, some extra wiring for basically free. $850
  • Transmission and ECM from a 2012 Camaro with 110k miles. The 6L50 in the Camaro I think is slightly beefier than the 6L45 in the other rwd LFX cars, and should support paddle shifters. It was important to find a ECM and trans that was already paired together, hopefully everything works out. $500
  • Custom wiring harness should allow me to control the ECM with only a couple wires. $1200
Compare that to the cost of a 2JZ swap, motor alone is around $7k. Big thanks to V8Roadsters for helping me plan all this stuff and making custom wiring harnesses.





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2005 4R Sport 4WD "The last of the V8s!" - Custom TIG'd SS Dual Exhaust - King 2.5" +2 LT. - ARB Front & Rear - 37's - Dana 60 - Build Thread
2005 Tundra 2WD Regular Cab V8 - Chopped Frame - Short Bed Swap
1977 Celica Liftback - LFX Swap - Build Thread
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