Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. started marketing the Toyota Celica XX in April 1978 as their answer to the growing popularity of the 2+2 version of the Datsun 260Z and later 280Z. To minimize production costs, Toyota extended the front portion of the production A40 Celica Liftback by about 5 inches to accommodate the longer inline 6-cylinder M-series engine from the flagship Toyota Crown. Toyota got some engineering help from Lotus Cars using suspension components from the Lotus Excel for the Celica XX S–variant. It was initially marketed exclusively in the Japanese domestic market (JDM) where it gained popularity as the Celica Double X. North American Toyota dealers clamored for the new sporty GT and when it arrived in U.S. shores in January 1979, it was marketed as the Toyota Celica Supra, with the Latin word “Supra”, which means “above”, “to go beyond”, or “to surpass”, replacing the double X suffix. The Celica XX / Supra was known internally as A40/A50 and was produced until July 1981.
1,988 cc (2.0-liter) single overhead camshaft (SOHC) 12-valve (12V) electronic fuel injected (EFI) inline 6-cylinder Toyota M-EU, 123hp, 184 Nm (April 1978-August 1980 MA45, August 1980-June 1981 MA55 JDM Celica XX)
2,563 cc (2.6-liter) SOHC 12V EFI inline-6 Toyota 4M-E , 138hp, 184 Nm (April 1978-August 1980 MA46, JDM Celica XX); 110hp, 184 Nm (January 1979-August 1980 MA46, US version Celica Supra)
2,759 cc (2.8-liter) SOHC 12V EFI inline-6 Toyota 5M-E, 116 hp, 197 Nm (August 1980-July 1981 MA47 Celica Supra and MA56 JDM version Celica XX)
April 1978-July 1981 W50 5-speed manual transmission
April 1978-August 1980 A40D 4-speed automatic transmission
August 1980-July 1981 A43D 4-speed automatic transmission
Wheelbase: 2630 mm
Length: 4600-4615 mm
Width: 1650 mm
Height: 1290-1310 mm
Curb weight: 1150-1270 kg
Price Range When New
The introductory price of a base model US version 1979 Toyota Celica Supra (without additional accessories such as sunroof, sport handling package, leather seats, etc.) was $9,578 before applicable taxes or around P363,000 at the exchange rate of P37.89 to 1 US Dollar at that time. With importation taxes and duties doubling the costs of sporty cars, we estimate that it cost around P750,000 to P850,000 to bring in a brand-new US version Celica Supra in 1979.
Total Number Produced
1978 Toyota Celica XX – 16,473 units (Japan sales figures only)
1979-1981 Toyota Celica Supra – 63,895 units (North American sales figures)
Why It Is Desirable
It is the first generation of the Supra.
The JDM Toyota Celica XX S has better handling with Lotus Excel suspension components.
It is a Toyota with a reputation for dependability, durability, and longevity.
Spare parts and used parts for the trim, interior and other restoration parts are not too hard to find since the body from the windshield to the rear bumper is based on the production A40 Celica.
The parts for the Toyota M-series engines (ME-U, 4M-E, and 5M-E) are still available.
It is an appreciating Japanese classic car.
It has a worldwide fan base.
Things to Watch Out For
Lower body rut, rust around the edges of the doors, fenders, hood, rear hatch, lower sills
Perished or broken underchassis, suspension and steering components (They are almost 45 years old, after all)
Bent chassis (accident, collision or beat-up ex-race car)
Conversion from right-hand (RHD) to left-hand drive (LHD)
Boy racers or heavily modified examples can be difficult to return to stock or factory settings
Condition and Current Price Range
Outstanding – $25,000 or P1,300,000 (P52.00 to $1.00 exchange rate)
Clean – $13,000 or P676,000
Average – $6,000 or P312,000
Rough – $3,000 or P156,000
Damaged – For Supra Mk1 fanatics or masochists only
With the introduction and growing popularity/notoriety of the 5th generation Toyota GR Supra, which is based on the BMW Z4, car collectors are looking for the classic authentic Toyota GTs, especially Celicas and Supras, since the 2000GT is now too expensive and too rare. In the States, the prices of first generation Celica Supras are trending upwards, especially in auctions. Even the pragmatic Richard Rawlings of the famous Gas Monkey Garage and “Fast N’ Loud” reality TV show bought a 1979 Celica Supra because they are becoming “increasingly rare”.
What’s Available in the Philippines
There are some US-version 1979-1981 Toyota Celica Supra that were imported into the country by wealthy enthusiasts or by American servicemen through the PX system of the old US military bases. Most of the nicer ones have been kept by their dedicated owners and are seldom advertised for sale. A local Supra enthusiast, Edvilor Ilano, Jr., lent his collection of four Supra generations to Toyota Motor Philippines during the launch of the 2020 Toyota GR Supra in July 2019, and the owner of Toyota Iloilo gave Ilano a generous offer for his four cars.
Ilano later regretted his decision to sell his Supra collection and bought restorable Supras to make another complete collection. However, his family and his business became his priority, and we were able to buy an authentic first-year, first-generation 1978 Toyota Celica XX (MA45) for only P120,000 because it had the wrong engine and transmission, a 12R 4-banger and 5-speed stick shift instead of the ME-U straight-6 and A40D 4-speed automatic.
Richard Rawlings said it best – these first-generation Toyota Celica Supras are becoming increasingly rare. We were lucky to acquire an authentic 1-of-16,473, first-year, first-generation Celica XX that we are going to restore into an even rarer left-hand drive (LHD) Double X. If you already have one, we advise you to please keep it. If you don’t have one yet and absolutely want one, then now is the time to go hunting for a 1978-1981 Toyota Celica XX / Supra before prices go really crazy.