This is the long-lost 1982 Toyota Celica RA63 “TC3” that Bjorn Waldegard and co-driver Hans Thorszelious piloted to a win in the 1982 Motogard Rally of New Zealand. In so doing it became the first Celica to ever win a World Rally Championship (WRC) event.
Internally codenamed “TC3” by TTE (Toyota Team Europe), this car was lost to history for decades, even Toyota had given up on it. In recent years it was rediscovered in longterm storage in the UK and restored back to its original 1982 rally-winning livery.
Fast Facts – Toyota Celica RA63
- The Toyota Celica RA63 is a member of the A60 third generation Celica family that was introduced in 1981 and sold until 1985.
- The RA63 cars were fitted with the 2.0 liter inline four with double overhead cams with manual or automatic transmissions 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 rally, while the new turbocharged Toyota Celica was being developed by TTE at its base in Cologne, Germany.
- The car you see here is the Celica that shocked the world, competing against turbo and all-wheel drive cars it managed to take a win at the 1982 Motogard Rally of New Zealand–becoming the first Celica to win a WRC event.
The Third Generation Toyota Celica “A60”
In 1981 the third generation Toyota Celica was unveiled to the world, internally codenamed A60, the new two-door sports car was offered in both notchback or liftback styles, it had semi-retractable “rise-up” headlights, and sharper body styling than its predecessor.
Above Video: Thanks to the team at VHS Rallies on YouTube you can now watch the complete 1982 Motogard Rally of New Zealand.
The A60 Celica was significantly upgraded over its production life, it started with a live axle rear end but this was upgraded to independent suspension with semi trailing arms on some models in 1983.
The rise-up headlights were also changed for proper pop-up headlights, and there were a number of additional minor body modifications made.
There were a number of engine options for the A60, all were inline-fours and the displacement ranged from 1.6 liters on the lower end up to 2.4 liters on the higher end – 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 thanks to its more sporting nature but the 4-speed automatic was a regularly ticked option box for those who preferred them.
With its stiff unibody shell, sporting handling, and solid engine choices the A60 Celica sold well and it proved popular as a race and rally car both for 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 little.
The 1982 Toyota Celica RA63 “TC3” Shown Here
The car you see here is a significant piece of Toyota motorsport history and arguably the most important Celica rally car of its era – it’s TC3, the car that won the 1982 Motogard Rally of New Zealand. As mentioned further up, this makes it the first Celica to ever win a WRC event.
Earlier in 1982 two examples of the RA63 Celica 2000GT that 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 1982 South Swedish Rally.
This was a surprise for many as the naturally-aspirated rear-wheel drive car seemed to be a relic of the past compared to some of the newer turbocharged and/or all-wheel drive rally cars that were appearing on the scene.
A little later in the year another TTE-prepared RA63 Celica would show it wasn’t a fluke with its unlikely win in New Zealand.
Not long after this the car was sold into private hands and rallied a little 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 would remain for decades.
It wasn’t until the current owner bought it out of storage and sent off the VIN, engine number and some photographs to Toyota Team Europe that it’s true identity as the first WRC rally winning Celica was established without a doubt.
In carefully restored condition the car is now due to roll across the auction block with Silverstone Auctions on the 27th of August with a price guide of £140,000 – £175,000, which works out to approximately $169,000 – $211,000 USD.
If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing 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 Motogard Rally of New Zealand.
Images courtesy of Silverstone Auctions
Ben has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with millions of readers around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.