The Top 10 Toyotas from the 2016 Toyotafest
The 21st annual Toyotafest car show was held in Long Beach, California on Saturday, May 7. Organized by the Toyota Owners and Restorers Club (TORC), the celebration of Toyota, Lexus, and Scion cars brought together 450 entrants limited only by physical space on the lawn adjacent to the Queen Mary.
The farthest traveled of the entered cars hailed from Toronto, Canada, but spectators came from as far away as Japan. As one of the most prolific automakers in the world, there was something for everyone, whether you're into Scion iQs or Supras.
1969 Toyota Corolla
This year special attention was paid to the 50th anniversary of the stalwart Corolla. With eleven generations in its family tree, 40 million sold and counting, the Corolla remains the best-selling nameplate in human history.
The Corolla debuted in 1966 in Japan and arrived in the US in March 1968. A 4-speed manual transmission channeled all of 60 horsepower from its 1.1-liter four-cylinder to the rear wheels, but its curb weight was a mere 1,637 pounds. It retailed for $1,700 at the time, equivalent to about $11,500 today.
The example displayed on Saturday is owned by Toyota itself. It was also shown alongside the 2017 50th Anniversary Edition Corolla at this year's New York Auto Show. Without a doubt, it's one of the finest examples left in the country, and precious few others remain. However, Toyota did manage to source a second one and will be entering it in the cross-country Great Race later this year as part of its year-long anniversary festivities.
Research the Toyota Corolla
1992 Toyota MR2 Turbo
A record turnout of second-generation MR2s at Toyotafest provided a blunt reminder of the days when a mainstream automaker could profitably build a mid-engined sports car for the price of a Camry.
The assemblage in Long Beach ran the gamut from the unmolested and naturally aspirated to the tuned and turbocharged. Several examples went even further, ripping out the factory turbo-four and shoehorning Toyota's ubiquitous 3.5-liter V6 between the rear wheels.
This particular 1992 model began life with a stock 2.0-liter turbo engine, but owner Matt Aquino has installed a 2.2-liter stroker motor and added several cosmetic bits sourced from Japan. With the majority of MR2s at the show finished in either white, red or black, this forgotten shade of Steel Gray Mist proved particularly fetching.
The MR2 was a core platform during the 90s tuner craze, but the drastically be-winged, aggressively vented, and the stylings of that era are long gone. Most owners today prefer a largely stock appearance body with factory paint and restrict modifications to the engines and suspensions beneath the sheetmetal.
Toyota Land Cruiser LWB Pickup
The Land Cruiser is well known as a vehicle that can go the harshest regions of the world, but how many actually do? Paul Williamsen's did, when it was driven by the US Marine Corps during the first Gulf War.
This Land Cruiser's history prior to US importation is a little cloudy, but it is thought to have been manufactured in the late '80s in Saudi Arabia. It's a long-wheelbase model with a pickup bed, but the roof is removable, which then allows the windshield to be folded down for easier transport. The 5-speed manual transmission's clutch is power assisted and the 10-pack leaf springs are capable of supporting a two-ton payload. This thing is no joke.
The 70-Series Land Cruisers debuted in 1984 and were never sold in the US, but it was popular everywhere else — Australia, Asia, South America, and Africa — and is still manufactured today. It was so beloved, in fact, that in 2014 the line was re-released in Japan after a 10-year absence.
Research the Toyota Land Cruiser
1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S (AE86)
As the last rear-wheel-drive Corollas, the AE86 is one of the most beloved Toyotas of all time. Brandon Most's is a rare beast, in that it was restored to stock instead of converted to "drift spec" and is proudly USDM — big bumpers and all — rather than JDM.
By the time underground drifting rose to a sanctioned mainstream sport in Japan and subsequently made its way across the Pacific, the Corolla GT-S had already experienced 20 years of natural attrition. Add to that a stampede of kids who suddenly wanted to slide them into walls at alarming rates and you had a single-model genocide unseen since GM sent all the EV1s to the crusher.
Research the Toyota Corolla
2004 Scion xB
Pour a shot of 5W-30 out for your fallen homies. This was the last Toyotafest with an official Scion presence. The once-hopeful youth brand spent the day distributing bags of Scion-branded swag and showing off some of their most memorable SEMA builds.
It seems odd to mourn the passing of a brand only 13 years old, but the largest gathering of Toyotas in North America had no shortage of the Scion faithful honoring their modified FR-Ses and art car xBs. When was the last time a big multinational car company actually encouraged customization? If nothing else, they at least gave the world entertaining concepts like an xB that transformed in to a DJ stand. That, and free flat-brimmed hats.
1993 Toyota Supra
An icon of the '90s, the fourth-generation Toyota Supra was a classic from day one. Twin-turbo-equipped versions never really fell below the $25,000 mark, but that didn't stop horsepower junkies from turning every last one they could find into 900-hp land bullets.
That's why Brian Kallaher's Baltic Blue example is so appealing. Aside from a few pieces of kitschy (but easily removable) carbon fiber, it remains clean and original. Today, a stock Supra is far rarer than one with rip-the-skin-from-your-face acceleration.
1977 Toyota Celica GT
One-owner cars never fail to impress, and John Accardi's 1977 Celica GT is no exception. The devotion to keep a single car through 40 years of moves and life stages is no small feat. Time faded the original luster but a few years ago John embarked on a thorough frame off restoration and repainted it in its original color (a hue Toyota called Orange Metallic but was really a light brown).
Powered by Toyota's evergreen 20R 2.2-liter, the Celica Liftback was built in response to cars like the Mitsubishi Galant GTO. Sadly, the US received only versions decked out in federally mandated 5 mph safety bumpers, which look like an afterthought because they are. Well-restored Japanese cars are still rare, but Celicas like this are paving the path to more.
1997 Lexus SC300
The Lexus SC 300 was arguably the most beautiful Lexus ever built. The "gentleman's Supra" was built on the same platform and equipped with the same over-built Toyota straight-six as its corporate cousin, but, alas, offered only in naturally aspirated form.
That hasn't stopped owners from turbocharging them on their own, like the owner of this 1997 model. Anything that can be done to a Supra can also be done to a Lexus SC, and though it was positioned in a higher price bracket when new, today they can be had for a fraction of the cost of a used Supra. This particular car also happens to be finished in one of the rarest colors Lexus offered, an iridescent purplish-blue called Royal Sapphire Pearl.
Air Runner Toyota Prius
Submitted as evidence that any car will still find fans no matter how devoid it is of traditional performance credentials. This is not just any Prius, but a lowrider customized with an air suspension and 18-inch Weds wheels.
Perhaps even more surprisingly, it was not alone. An entire row of Prii, all decked out in wheels more expensive than a used Yaris, came to defy notions of what is a proper enthusiast's car. In fact, Prius customization is common enough that Air Runner manufactures a plug-and-play kit for the inflatable bags that replace the suspension struts.
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1967 Toyota 2000GT
Launched at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, the Toyota 2000GT was Japan's first supercar. Powered by a 150-horsepower twin-cam straight-six, each one was hand-built over an X-frame chassis. It was notable for setting 16 FIA speed records during a 72-hour endurance run in 1966. Only 351 were made, 62 of which were imported into the US.
Today, they are million-dollar cars. Like the Corolla, this example in Pegasus White is owned by Toyota USA. Photos rarely do the car justice, however, as each surface is composed of compound curves that reflect light in mesmerizing fashion. It is stunning to behold in person, and a good a reason as any to make sure Toyotafest is on any list of must-see car events next year.