Now in its 21st year, the All-Toyotafest has become quite possibly the most popular Japanese car show in southern California. How popular? Online registration for the 2016 gathering — all 450 spots — sold out just eight hours after going live. The result was a diverse landscape of Toyota, Lexus and Scion enthusiasts that’s growing fast, with something for everyone and every taste. Most won’t be JNCers cup of tea, but the range that Toyota has as well as a whole event dedicated to them is extremely impressive.
Newly inducted into the 25 Year Club, by far the most well-represented model this year the SW20 MR2. Almost 50 examples formed seemingly endless rows of mid-engined madness.
Most appeared to be tasteful in appearance with mild aero kits appropriate for the era, even if they were sporting built turbos or Camry V6 swaps beneath their shapely rears. Gone are the extra wings, diffusers and snorkels that would have been prevalent just a few short years go, with only an aggressive wheel fitment or cannon-sized exhaust tip offering a clue to underhood shenanigans.
One standout was RJ Panlilio’s Turbo, which sported a TRD catalog’s worth of suspension components, including a set of completely proper 17-inch Alumi-Ks. A plethora of JDM cosmetic bits adorned the exterior, the centerpiece of which was surely the Japan-market OEM roof rack and aerodynamic cargo case.
My personal favorite was this one, whose facets like an AW11 hood emblem, front clear lenses lightly tinted to blend with the black side molding, and gold roll cage to match Recaro seats showed great attention to detail. Ignore the windshield banner and you’ll find perfection in its deep black paint, yellow-painted fog lenses, and JDM rear molding with the “Twin-Cam 16” signage and more aggressive but stock-looking kouki lip, all tied together nicely with rare TRD bronze 5-spokes with meaty tires.
Most SW20s present saw at least some modification, like this Steel Mist Gray slicktop with a 2.2 stroker turbo in the engine room, and it’s clear why tuners would be drawn to it. However, perhaps less expected was the more-or-less stock, naturally aspirated white specimen beside it, with original paint and a period correct OEM bra. It just goes to show that the MR2 attracts a diverse range of owners.
It wasn’t just the SW20. This year saw a flood of cars from the 1990s come out en force, from bugeye Celicas to your mom’s Camry wagon.
If you didn’t think there were actual Camry enthusiasts out there, you are sorely mistaken. This year an army of them showed up, mostly stanced — which is totally okay, because if you must stance, then stance something that has no performance value whatsoever.
There was even a Camry contingent with zokusha-style exhaust pipes, which we must admit kind of made our day. You can cry for days about how Camrys aren’t cool, but clearly the youngsters aren’t subject to your old man opinions. And no, they’re not getting off the Queen Mary lawn.
Even the Prius got its time to shine. Parked ironically by a gas-guzzling monster truck Tacoma, we particularly like this one’s custom old school トヨタ emblem.
Perhaps most surprisingly of all, an Avalon. Festooned with quite possibly every JDM dress-up accessory ever made for the XX20 chassis, one owner displayed tremendous dedication to the cause of creating a VIP Pronard (that’s its name in Japan, no joke).
Of course, Toyotafest this year was not without its classics. 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Corolla, and as such all eleven generations of the model were well represented, from old school rear-drivers like the flat green mango with the curious fender mirrors to stanced front-drivers for the modern age.
It was nice to see a couple of solid Corona sedans as well, especially with the olive T80 liberated from the holographic sticker treatment it wore in past shows. Its yellow companion was particularly stylish and understated, and one could easily imagine it in a clubman race at the newly opened Tsukuba Circuit in 1970.
Intricate illustrations with Japanese art — samurai and dragons — have become a popular adornment for hoods. Some of the imagery is quite beautiful and clearly created by someone with great skill. Is this a new form of pinstriping?
Lastly, there was Scion. Though not at all nostalgic (yet), we did find it somewhat sad to see the brand’s last official Toyotafest. With the marque going away later this year, it was one final hurrah at the biggest Toyota celebration in North America. They brought out some of their greatest hits, like the 5Axis xB that transforms into a DJ booth, and were clearing out every remaining piece of Scion-branded swag, creating a long line behind the car.
Perhaps in anticipation of the change, the field was flooded with xBs, tCs, and FR-Ses. Scions are, of course, still part of the Toyota family and will be welcomed at future Toyotafests, just like how Datsuns are still welcome at Nissan Jam. There just won’t be an official presence alongside Toyota and Lexus.
The show continues to evolve, but it still stays close to its roots of the Toyota restorers’ society, and the older cars did not disappoint as the next installment will show. The rise and maturity of owners are growing, and cars like the MR2 and Supra are finally being tastefully modified, preserved to a higher state just like the Celicas and AE86es. Coupled with the enthusiasm of the other platforms as the FR-S, various Scions and the trucks themselves, all are growing in numbers. To be continued…
Stay tuned for more Toyotafest 2016 coverage. In the meantime, in case you missed it, check out these stories from Toyotafest 2015 (Part 01, 02, and 03), 2014 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), 2013 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), 2012 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), 2011 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04, 05), 2010 (Part 01, 02, 03).