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[WATCH] 1971 Toyota Celica ST Features in Jay Leno’s Garage

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1971 Toyota Celica ST Jay Leno's Garage

The 1971 Toyota Celica ST

It’s fair to say that Jay Leno likes cars. So much, in fact, that he has a show dedicated to them. In a recent episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, the comedian drove the very first sports car that Toyota built—a 1971 Toyota Celica ST fresh from the automaker’s museum in Torrance, California.

The Celica ST was the first of its kind from a Japanese automaker, and was Toyota’s answer to the Mustang. Originally, it was powered by a 100-horsepower 1.9-liter engine—quite impressive by Japanese standards, especially back in the 1970s. The vehicle was marketed as being both easy and fun to drive, thanks to coil springs in the rear, which differed from most vehicles at the time.

Brand new in 1971, the Celica ST came with a price tag of $4,000, which was higher than some of its competitors, as Leno points out; for example, the Ford Pinto retailed for around $2,800. In its heyday, Toyota sold around 168,000 per year in a segment of just over 200,000 sales, meaning it had a majority. This is likely because the Celica ST was one of the first compact sports cars available—once the segment went away, it contained almost 35 nameplates.

Check out the episode in its entirety to see Leno take the Celica ST out for a spin with Tim Mochizuki, a former product planner at Toyota, who discusses the vehicle at length.