New to the forums, I have been visiting for about a month and this thread made me sign up!!
Being an owner of a 2000 Celica GT, I feel I can comment on this. Mine has 39k trouble free miles on it and driven daily too.
I do have some mods:TRD exhaust, TRD springs(1.5 drop), 17" BBS mesh wheels, Falken Zeix ZE512 tires(yes ultra high performance all seasons)in 225/45/17 Zrated.JDM TRD headlight covers.Oh yes and the biggest mod of course a JDM TRD shift knob.
Anyhoo, this car has been nothing but fun, it handles well, sounds great, looks great and a great weekend get-away car for my wife and I. It has also saved my life...I was hit in the pass side 2 years ago by a moron that ran a light at 40 miles an hour!!!. 10k damage to the car, 7 weeks in the body shop and she is as good as new.The Saturn did not fair as well TOTALED!!!! I am a big Toyota fan (wife has an 02 Highlander). I also belong to teamcelica.com, a somewhat local group of Celica fanatics, though I am the senior member(46 years old).I am also of the school of not liking the 04 facelift, the life of the Celica has not yet been determined by Toyota, rumors abound regarding the 8th generation.
A 02 should be in your price range, also regarding the "bad" engines on the GT-S, most of that is from kids downshifting from 6th to 2nd and ...well you can imagine. Toyota did give these people a new engine and then re-designed the gearbox and the rev limiter came into play also.
If you are looking for a fun, econimical, well built small sports coupe this would fill the bill.
I am longing for a new Solara SE Sport with the V6 though.
Thanx for the read, and if you need info please visit :teamcelica.com!
P.S. Yes it's 5-speed.