Bubble Era Toyota classics meet their successors

Toyota AW11 MR2 & TF300

The British sure know how to appreciate the classics. In fact, Toyota UK is quietly amassing a proper heritage collection of the company’s best and brightest. Back in April they found what they describe as “quite possibly the best original MR2 in existence” in the classifieds, but by the time they went to buy it, the AW11 had already been sold. 

Toyota MR2 AW11 & TF300

Eventually they tracked down the new owner and invited him to a road test in the rolling hills of Wales. Imagine Toyota knocking on your door with a TF300 MR2 Spyder, AE86, and GT86 from their own stable in tow. You can read the story on Toyota UK’s blog, along with an interview with the lucky AW11 owner. The 20-year-old-student who bought the car from under Toyota’s nose seems to have his head on straight:

It’s great fun to drive and I love being in it. The car sounds lovely and the handling is perfect, but crucially, people seem to have respect for it. It’s quite striking to look at and I would say pretty flashy, but not in a way that makes passers-by jump to conclusions about you for driving it, they see it and I know that they appreciate it for what it is – a cool, classic and retro car.

Toyota AE86 & GT86

In the 80s it probably didn’t seem likely that these cars would ever be collectible or rare. Toyota UK (or Toyota USA, for that matter) never kept any examples in their prime, and have spent the last few years rectifying that mistake. The UK received only fixed-headlight AE86es with factory fins, and they’ve bought back from the former editor of Banzai magazine this stunning two-tone silver and gray example has just 40,000 miles on the clock.

Toyota UK GT86 & AE86

Nowadays, Toyota is a bit savvier and is keeping examples of important models when they’re still new. When the MR2 Roadster ended its production run in 2006, the last 300 sold in the UK became TF300 editions, each with special upholstery, exhaust and serial number. The one in Toyota UK’s fleet has only 16,000 miles. And of course, the GT86 arrived after interest in Japanese classics became a thing and was the first Toyota sports car got everyone on the hachiroku bandwagon at a corporate level.

We hope that Toyota UK does eventually find a proper UK-spec AW11 for its collection. Tracking down a clean, unmolested old Toyota isn’t for the faint of heart.

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7 Responses to Bubble Era Toyota classics meet their successors

  1. Bry said:

    I realize this is Toyota only, but it’d be cool to see Mazda (SA RX-7/RX-8 and NA/NC MX-5) and other companies (though I’m hard-pressed to think of a good example). They could continue this whenever they FINALLY build a Supra successor.

  2. fuel10922 said:

    Great write up! i bet that guy with the MR2 was blown away to have Toyota call him up and ask to use his car.

  3. cesariojpn said:

    “The British sure know how to appreciate the classics.”

    …..yet are more than willing to crush cars that has a “kiss” from a shopping trolley cause it’s a MOT failure. Hell, didn’t Top Gear once featured a pristine Mazda 323 that they said was going to the crushers cause it was too old and the family couldn’t afford the upkeep and fees?

    • Bry said:

      IIRC, don’t the Japanese have a similarly draconian inspection/fee process?

    • dunstan said:

      Yes we do know how to appreciate the classics. But a 323 mazda is not a desirable car in any way shape or form.
      We had a thing here In 2008 called the scrappage scheme,where the government gave £1000 to anybody who wanted to scrap an old car and get a brand new one.
      Got rid of a lot of rubbish.but also a few nicer cars.

      • Bry said:

        A 323 is a desirable car if it is a.) already paid for and b.) is working relatively trouble-free. There’s ALWAYS something to be said for the car you already own than the payout necessary to acquire a new one (whose reliability may be no better).

        I understood what you said to say that it’s not desirable as a sports car, but that wasn’t the purpose it was serving in this case, so it’s unfair to knock it for not being a sports car.

    • Ant said:

      Please don’t lump in the general public with car enthusiasts. People treat cars like white goods everywhere, not just in the UK.

      We do have fairly strict regulations on emissions and general roadworthiness that signal the end for a lot of old cars, as do fuel costs and taxes. But there are still a lot of people out there willing to preserve and maintain these cars in much tougher conditions than, for example, the U.S. requires.

      I’d be keener to sing the praises of those that make an effort than criticize those who scrap a car because it becomes uneconomical to run.

      The UK manufacturer press offices are truly excellent at building and maintaining these heritage fleets too. I was lucky enough to drive the AE86 in the story above at an event last year, and it’s as good to drive as the looks and mileage suggest.

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