1986 Toyota Celica

Take a moment, if you will, to stop and think about the marvel that is the internet. There never has been a source of knowledge like it. Every day, enough information is added to it to fill the largest library many times over. Every single day. And the vast majority of it is free, and accessible from virtually anywhere on the planet.

How information used to work

Let’s take a walk back to the past. Suppose that 35 years ago, I wanted to research reviews of an old car that were written when the car was new. If I was lucky, I lived near a pretty good library. I’d go down there, and hope that way back when the library had subscribed to something like Road&Track or Motor Trend. It’s possible those old magazines might be available in a dusty binder somewhere, assuming I could find it. Or, they might have been archived on microfilm or microfiche.

If you’re a bit younger you might only be aware of microfilm or microfiche from movies and you might assume it was a made up thing. But it wasn’t. This was a very-high-quality black-and-white film that could store extremely small images. Dozens of pages could be stored on a small roll of film or sheet of acetate. You took this stuff to a special player which magnified it so you could read it.

So you’d read this article, with photos that weren’t that good because they didn’t translate well, and then you either had to remember what you read or you could get a very poor quality reproduction.

How information works today

You Google something and either read it or watch a video about it. YouTube’s now been around 15 years and has millions upon millions of videos. Which brings me to the real subject of today’s Fun Friday article.

MotorWeek is a show that’s been airing on PBS since 1981. They’ve put a lot of their older reviews on their YouTube channel. If you’ve ever wondered how the motoring press reviewed a car when it was new, you’ll find it here. For free. By contrast, most of the car magazines charge for access to their archived content if they even have any.

I vividly and fondly remember this car, thanks to my many rides in it. You may not realize it from looking today, but this car was thought of as very sporty and very fast. This was a different time, and watching this video proves it.

But the most fun can be had by just going along with it. Listen to the narrator as he talks about how fast the 0-60 time is (a “respectable” 11 seconds, slower than a 2010s Prius) and how the fuel economy, in the mid-20s, was a benefit. Search for other reviews of this car and you’ll find some contemporary reviews. Most don’t mention fuel economy or speed, instead focusing on the emotional attachment. Compared to today’s cars, the Celica doesn’t hold up well. But a lot of folks like myself think of it fondly.

Thanks to the internet, we can relive those glory days without ever leaving our couches.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.