1977 Star Wars Celica: Have You Seen This Car?

Pete Vilmur | September 23, 2011

With today’s auction for the 2012 Star Wars Volkswagen Passat ending soon, another legendary auto will soon join the ranks of Star Wars custom cars, which already includes a 1997 Special Edition Hummer and 2005 Vader Viper. And so the time feels right to once more question the whereabouts of the first officially-sanctioned Star Wars custom car, one 1977 Star Wars Celica Liftback GT awarded in a sweepstakes a few months after Star Wars‘ release that same year.

I first discovered and showcased this mystery car way back in the mid-1990s with a little piece I wrote for The Star Wars Collectors Archive, complete with grainy photos and a few scant facts provided by an obscure 1977 Toyota dealership magazine. Fifteen or so years later I’m able to provide somewhat sharper photos of the Star Wars Celica, but unfortunately the same limited facts remain:

The Star Wars Celica was designed by Delphi Auto Design in Costa Mesa, California, and awarded sometime after the end of 1977, probably in January 1978. While the sweepstakes were a joint venture hosted by Toyota and Twentieth Century Fox, the awarding dealership remains a mystery, as does the identity of the winner and the vehicle’s VIN number.

A couple potential leads have surfaced in recent years: a photo of several 1977 Celica Liftback GT Pace Cars has emerged, one of which may have been sent to the customizer’s shop in California to be transformed into the Star Wars GT. In fact, a second photo of one of the pace cars was actually used as the basis for the contest car artwork graphic:

A second clue may reside in a 1980s/90s issue of Antique Toy World magazine, in which Star Wars super-collector Steve Sansweet swears he spotted a classified ad for the car (although I spent two days in his personal library scouring his collection of back issues to no avail. Several issues couldn’t be found, however).

Have you seen this car? The image above is a modified promotional image that better reflects what the finished car might look like since the contest graphics hardly resemble the actual car photos published later in the dealership magazine. If you’ve got a lead, let us know about it in the comments below (and check out the full set of pics here)!

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