Toyota Motor Sales USA plans to axe the Celica and MR2 sports cars from its range by the end of the 2005 model year.

“The Celica and MR2 have been a favourite amongst sports car enthusiasts since their introductions in the US,” said Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division.

“The past few years, however, have been very challenging for both Celica and MR2 as competition in a segment where ‘what’s new’ dominates and we continue to add more exciting and youthful products to the lineup such as the Matrix and Corolla XRS, Solara sports coupe and recently the Scion xA, xB and tC.”

Currently in its seventh generation, the Celica, initially a rear-drive model, was first introduced in the US in 1971 and, Toyota claims,  was influential in establishing the sporty subcompact segment.

Over the years it was named Motor Trend’s “import car of the year,” one of Car and Driver’s “10 best cars,” and the “most reliable sporty car” by Consumer Reports.

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The Celica was originally designed for consumers who were young at heart and wanted something more than just simple transportation, Toyota said.

The mid-engine, rear-wheel drive two-seater MR2 (aka “Mr Two”) was launched in the US in 1985 and was on sale for 10 years. Production resumed in 2000 when the third generation was introduced. According to Toyota, the MR2 was developed to offer consumers exotic car design and excitement without the exotic car price.

The model was originally powered by a so-called “sweet sixteen” 16-valve dual-overhead cam 1.6-litre engine and a supercharged version was added to the range in 1988. A turbocharged version went on sale in 1991 prompting Car and Driver magazine to proclaim the MR2 Turbo as “an exotic car for the rest of us.”

The current MR2 Spyder was the first US-market Toyota to offer a clutchless, six-speed sequential manual transmission.

“The MR2 has not only proven its mettle as a ‘budget exotic’ sports car, but succeeded in attracting performance-oriented buyers to the Toyota brand,” the company said.