This is the long-lost 1982 Toyota Celica RA63 “TC3” that Bjorn Waldegard and his co-driver Hans Thorszelious raced to win the Motogard Rally of New Zealand in 1982. In doing so, it became the first Celica to win a World Rally Championship (WRC) event.
Internally dubbed “TC3” by TTE (Toyota Team Europe), this car was lost to history for decades, even Toyota had abandoned it. In recent years it has been rediscovered in long-term storage in the UK and restored to its original 1982 rally livery.
Highlights – Toyota Celica RA63
- The Toyota Celica RA63 is part of the third generation A60 Celica family which was introduced in 1981 and sold until 1985.
- The RA63 cars were fitted with the 2.0-liter double overhead camshaft inline-four with manual or automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. The A60 was notably more modern and angular in design than the second generation model it replaced (the A40/A50).
- TTE (Toyota Team Europe) built a series of special racing versions of the RA63 Celica in the early 1980s to compete in rallies, while the new turbocharged Toyota Celica was developed by TTE at its base in Cologne, Germany.
- The car you see here is the Celica that shocked the world, competing against turbocharged and all-wheel-drive cars, it managed to claim a victory at the Motogard Rally of New Zealand in 1982, becoming the first Celica to win a WRC event.
The third generation of Toyota Celica “A60”
In 1981 the third generation Toyota Celica was unveiled to the world, under the internal code name A60, the new two-door sports car was offered in hatchback or hatchback styles, it had semi-retractable headlights” uprights” and a sharper body style than its predecessor.
Video above: Thanks to the VHS Rally team on YouTube, you can now watch the entire 1982 Motogard Rally of New Zealand.
The A60 Celica was significantly improved over its life, it started with a live axle rear end, but was upgraded to independent suspension with semi-trailing arms on some models in 1983.
The elevating headlights were also replaced with proper pop-up headlights, and a number of additional minor changes were made to the bodywork.
There were a number of engine options for the A60, all were straight-fours and displacement varied from 1.6 liters at the lower end to 2.4 liters at the higher end – which Interestingly, this 2.4-liter engine was the largest four-cylinder engine offered in any Celica before or since.
Both manual and automatic transmissions were offered, the 5-speed manual was the most popular due to its sportier nature, but the 4-speed automatic was a regularly ticked option for those who preferred them.
With its rigid monocoque hull, sporty handling and strong engine choices, the A60 Celica sold well and proved popular as a racing and rally car for both privateers and Toyota factory teams.
The A60 would be replaced by the Y160 Celica in 1985, a car that borrowed heavily from its styling cues but softened the edges a bit.
The 1982 Toyota Celica RA63 “TC3” shown here
The car you see here is an important piece of Toyota motorsport history and arguably the most important Celica rally car of its time – it’s TC3, the car that won the Motogard Rally of New Zealand in 1982. As mentioned above, this made it the first Celica to win a WRC event.
Earlier in 1982, two examples of the RA63 Celica 2000GT which had been modified for racing by Toyota Team Europe in Germany shocked many in the rally fraternity when they finished 2nd and 3rd overall in the Swedish Rally of the South of 1982.
This came as a surprise to many, as the naturally aspirated rear-wheel-drive car seemed like a relic of the past compared to some of the new turbocharged and/or all-wheel-drive rally cars that were appearing on the scene.
Later that year, another TTE-prepared Celica RA63 would show that it was no fluke with its unlikely victory in New Zealand.
Shortly after the car was sold privately and rallied a bit more then it came into the possession of a British owner who raced it for a short time before putting it into storage where it will remain for decades.
It wasn’t until the current owner bought it out of storage and sent the VIN, engine number and some photos to Toyota Team Europe that its true identity as the first Celica to win a WRC rally was established without no doubt.
In carefully restored condition, the car is now due to go up for auction with Silverstone Auctions on August 27 with a guide price of £140,000-£175,000, equating to around US$169,000-211,000.
If you want to know more or register to bid you can visit the list here.
Editor’s Note: Scroll down to see an original gallery of images of Bjorn Waldegard and Hans Thorszelious with this car in the 1982 New Zealand Motogard Rally.
Images courtesy of Silverstone Auctions
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