Looking at buying a 7th gen Celica GTS
Hey everyone; I am currently in the market for a new car and have wanted a Celica GTS since they first came out in 2000. I currently own a 2006 Civic LX with a failing transmission; because of the cost behind fixing my transmission and the fact that honestly I don't think I can repair an auto transmission myself I want to buy a manual car that I can fix myself with reasonably priced parts. I want the Celica for that reason, and because of the awesome styling, performance orientated design, good gas mileage, and the usual excellent Toyota reliability.
First of all, how do you guys like the car? or a better question so that you don't have 1000 things list, what DON'T you like about the car?
To give an idea as to what kind of driver I am, I go 'canyon cruising' every weekend and would consider myself a 'spirited driver', accelerating and braking much harder than the average driver. During my 'racing' in the mountains (LEGAL "racing" on roads with a speed limit higher than anything but an F1 car can go the speed limit on) I put extreme abuse on my car essentially either gassing it 100% or hitting the brakes 100% and always turning at the limit of the cars traction. Besides replacing the tires and brake pads often, my Civic has taken to this OK with few problems over the years. Do you guys think the 7th gen Celica GTS (manual) is a car that can handle this abuse with proper maintenance? One of the reasons I want this car is because there is a large market of performance parts for it and the car appears highly tunable; I intend to upgrade things like the rotors, brake pads, roll bars, shocks, headers, exhaust pipes, clutch, and intake manifold.
I live in the LA area and am willing to drive up to a 1k miles to find a car, but it seems like most good options are within CA anyway. So, let me make sure I'm seeing the market right; it appears like the average going price for a 2000 Celica GTS Manual with around 120k miles on it is $5000, and the price for one with 200k miles around $4000. Does this sound about right? Now, here is where I simply need to ask experienced owners to know the answer....is it worth it to spend an extra $1000 to get a Celica with 80,000 less miles on it?
Outside of that, what should I look for/listen for when examining and test driving a Celica to buy? When shifting I know to listen for grinding in the gearbox (caused by worn synchros I believe?) and when accelerating hard to feel for clutch slippage. What else should I be aware of?
Now...if I were to buy one with 120k miles on it (what I'm leaning towards), what should I get ready to repair/refurbish? Probably the clutch will be the first to go, and then the synchros? How many miles can someone generally get out of the transmission gears themselves? Should engine bearings be replaced anytime soon?
I'm mostly concerned about damage/wear that isn't obvious or cannot readily be determined. Things like the downpipe rusting out, shocks going soft, or rotors wearing down I can competently determine myself. But something like the fuel pump wearing down, transmission gears eroding dangerously far, or the steering hydraulic lines getting old I cannot so easily determine or know when to do preventative maintenance on given my knowledge.
Well, I think that is good for now. I would really appreciate any advice anyone has. If I end up buying a Celica I look forward to being part of the community!