Registration for over 400 Toyotafest spaces sold out in under 24 hours this year, a new record. Perhaps it was the fact that it was the show’s 20th anniversary, or that in Japan it was already May 3, Akio Toyoda‘s birthday, or maybe there are just a lot of loyal Toyotaku out there, including those of the extended Scion and Lexus families. All we know is that the pent-up demand for incredible Toyotas made for a fantastic show.
Recently in Japan, VIP cars have grown brasher, with neon paint jobs that spill over to the headlights and wheels. Traditionally, though, VIP cars come in two colors, black or white. Or if you’re feeling a bit bold, silver.
The style has always been about understated overstatement (an oxymoron, I know) and this Celsior pulls off light blue so well it looks like it could be a factory color, but it’s not.
Showcasing 20 years of Lexus coupes were a brand new RC F Sport and a Lexus SC400 belonging to Paul Williamsen, a national manager a Lexus College. To our amazement, Paul’s SC looked like it had just come off the showroom floor and we soon found out why — it only has 55,000 miles on the odometer.
At the other end of the affordability spectrum, the show was packed with Scions. The crew at 5 Axis have developed some of the sleeker dress-up kits for cars like the FR-S. It makes sense, since they’re also the shop responsible for turning Toyota’s designs into the actual concepts like the original FR-S Concept and the FT-1 below.
Throwing it back to the disco era, Scion brought out their Riley Hawk-inspired xB, a SEMA show car from last year with every 1970s styling cue you can imagine. Cragars, side pipes, shag carpeting, fishbowl window, and an 8-track player, it’s all there. Behind it was a targa FR-S and the new iM.
Toyota brought out a 1958 Toyopet Crown, one of the first cars they ever imported. The company didn’t keep any of the originals, so they bought this one back about seven years ago and gave it a full restoration.
Toyota supercars, past and future. Though this is a production 2000GT, the concept debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965. That means almost 50 years separates it from the FT-1 concept that debuted in 2014. The designers of the FT-1 took inspiration from the 2000GT and if rumors prove true it could augur the shape of the next Supra.
The MkIII “Eagle” racers were the most dominant GTP cars of their time. Designed by John Ward an Hiro Fujimori, they won 21 of the 27 races they competed in. One of its sister cars sold last year in Monterey for $1,045,000. With the 2000GT worth just north of a mil and the FT-1 being basically a priceless concept, this frame contains a very expensive trio.
The Supras came out in full force this year. King of the 90s tuners for the prodigious power squeezable from their 2JZ engines. It was so much power, in fact, that there’s an ongoing joke about how Supra owners do all their racing on the dyno. So naturally, it’s some kind of JZA80 tribe prerequisite to display your car with the hood open.
What we are most pleased about, however, is the face that despite more mods under the skin than Steve Austin, these MkIV Supras for the most part wear their stock sheetmetal. Gone are the days of Mega Street Combat body kits, multiple triangular vents, and wings with more trestles than the Brooklyn Bridge.
In fact, if you can believe it, there was even a bone stock example with just 51,000 miles. Of course, the fact that it was a naturally aspirated example probably helped save it from a 15 years and 7 movie’s worth of aspiring Paul Walkers.
We thought this display of two generations Super White Supras was particularly well done. If you saw the latest installment in the franchise that is Fast, Furious, both Fast & Furious, or as it was known in Japan, Sky Mission, it might be hard not to get a little misty eyed seeing a pure white JZA80.
Folks, this is a proper Celica. Minimalist in style and purposeful in execution, it shows off just what makes the first-gens such a timeless design. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine it buzzing through the neon-lit boulevards of Tokyo.
These KP61 Starlets were, fittingly, owned by two brothers who painstakingly built them over the course of many years. One flared out and bewinged, one basically stock except for its wheels and ride height, the former took home the Best Modified award at the end of the day.
Where else but Japan can you get the entire run-down of the car’s specs right there on the factory decal?
There were five KP61s at the show, a record high for the original Toyota RWD hot hatch. We had, say it with me, Starlet fever!
Though it may not be the cleanest Starlet, Ivan Zuniga’s ’81 has character. What separates a ratty but cool car from an old beater? Well, polished two-piece Advan A3As, for one. Subtle details like the tsurikawa, Japanese flag fuel filler with the kana Toyota logo cleverly embedded in the sun, and a Black & Gold JNC inkan in the rear window make it clear it’s not just any ol’ hooptie.
It’s proof that you don’t need to hack up a perfectly good survivor to create a cool ride, just a little creativity and elbow grease.
Mary Hubert’s black ’81 Supra was so clean it made my own look like it limped out of a junkyard. Though the previous owner added some period details like burgundy pinstriped highlights and extraneous gauges, it’s been extremely well preserved.
Funny thing: Mary works for DriftMotion.com, a company that heavily immersed in high-power MkIII and MKIV Supras, but she maintains a sense of humor about it with a NOTA1JZ vanity plate. Also, her Supra beats mine with the presence of an 80s hi-fi brushed aluminum stereo cassette player, located in a completely different dash pod than the equalizer and head unit.
Another car we really enjoyed was Isaias Barrios’ RA42 Celica, which turned an otherwise unloved body style into a mean street machine. Deep dish Hayashi Streets, custom coilovers, a W58, and Supra disc brake rear end give it serious running gear. A round-headlight conversion and Japanese dealer plate red line give it some custom attitude.
It was a hot day in Long Beach, and we wanted nothing more than to jump into this lipstick red Celica Sunchaser and get some wind blowing through our hair. A red convertible in California. Can you get any more 80s than this?
The answer to that question is yes, with a rows and rows of angular Toyota coupes from the 80s.
Last but not least was one of our absolute favorites of the show, Andrew Golseth’s 1984 Toyota Century, the most I of all the VIPs.
By 1984 the Century’s design had been tweaked ever so slightly to look more boxy, as was the trend for Japanese cars of the era. Though some prefer the older ones’ rounder headlights and grilles, there’s something proper about the most over-the-top excessive luxury sedan taking on Bubble Economy styling.
Andrew’s Century isn’t entirely stock, though it’s very close. Clear side indicators and redded-out taillights give it a subtle but even cleaner look. It’s lowered about two inches as well.
Just look at this thing. It’s a shogun’s throne room on wheels.
To be continued…