Twenty years. That’s how long the annual Toyotafest has been taking place, making it one of the longest running import-only car shows in SoCal. It’s easy to see why. Toyota is the world’s largest automaker and has accrued many loyal fans along the way in its 57 years in America.
JNC showed up bright and early to set up our booth. Our booth car was Dustin Enocum’s all-original AE86, one of the last remaining stock GT-S Corollas on earth. We met Dustin at AE86 Nights a few weeks ago and knew we had to have his car at Toyotafest.
Dustin even has the original window sticker and documentation. He says that the original owner didn’t even mention that he had these items when Dustin agreed to purchase the car. It was just handed over as a bonus after the deal was done. In 1985 the car started at $9,530, but went out the door for $11,138 including options like the $185 cassette player. Truly Made in the 80s!
Toyotafest includes Lexus and Scion vehicles as well, and our neighbors at Yokohama Tire, A’PEXi and Weds Wheels brought out a D1GP Lexus drift car while an airbagged VIP GS and Sienna SE lurked in the background.
Across from our booth were two Z20 Soarers, one of which came all the way from Arizona. Consider for a moment how sleek and futuristic these would have looked on the streets of 1986 America if Toyota had been able to sell them here.
Of course, no 80s Japanese luxury car would be complete with fitted embroidered seat covers, front and rear, and featuring a woven version of the model’s emblem, a gryphon in the Soarer’s case.
We saw Cressidas for days, prompting a discussion amongst the staff about how amazing it is that a 30 year old semi-luxury family sedan suddenly has a cult following. For children of the 80s, the equivalent might’ve been a tri-five Chevy Bel Air.
However, whereas shoebox Chevy owners veered toward hot rod culture, Cressida owners are at the forefront of adopting Japan’s bosozoku culture, exemplified here with a deppa spoiler, external oil cooler and takeyari exhaust pipes.
One of our favorite Cressidas was a blue beauty embodying the essence of Japanese style without being too shocking to American sensibilities. It’s not slammed, but just low enough to drag its tsurikawa.
Its integrated ducktail and team stickers (including the JNC inkan) in the window also lend an air of Tokyo cool.
Thirty years from now, what will the go-to custom car of choice be? Perhaps a contemporary Camry. These owners definitely adhered to the Three Laws of Stance by choosing something that won’t leave enthusiasts screaming “Why, God why!?” Instead, they made the otherwise ubiquitous family hauler all the more charming. Win-win.
Even the V20 Camry got in on the action, with a slick looking drop on some knockoff SSRs. The best part about this car is the fact that the owner started out with a base DX trim level, black bumpers and all…
While under the hood he crammed a 3S-GTE to lure unsuspecting WRXes to their stoplight drag deaths. This immediately injected dreams of a sleeper Camry Wagon into our sun-baked heads.
And now for your viewing pleasure, the smallest Toyota at the show, beside the largest Toyota at the show. That is all.
Long-time Toyotafest supporters, Cabe Toyota of Long Beach, California recently acquired this 1985 Supra P-Type from a loyal customer on trade-in. According to manager Mike Bingham, every service had been performed at the dealership, so they knew the car well and were able to fetch every record on file for a stack of papers about an inch-and-a-half thick. The car had about 200,000 miles on it but looked amazing for its age.
On special display were a pair of daruma Celicas owned by the staff. Joji Luz’s yellow example was one of the earliest Celicas sold, serial number 0005.
A peek under the hood reveals a swapped, immaculate 2T-G twin-cam never sold in the States.
These classic racing jackets are impossible to find nowadays, but luckily reproductions are available.
Long time readers of JNC know this Celica well, but it deserves another viewing. It is living proof that less is more.
The third and final staff display car was this RT52 barikan Corona coupe, subtly modified with a 1600GT grille and black Wats. Despite its LHD origins the carefully chosen mods make give the illusion that it came straight from Japan.
All members of the Toyotafest staff were outfitted in stylish shirts commemorating the show’s 20 years. Depicted on it was a Toyopet Crown, the company’s first car sold in the US, with the words “Enjoying Toyota since 1995” beneath.
In contrast, Ron Sino-Cruz’s T80 sedan is a modern take on a generally unloved generation of the Corona line. Simply gazing upon the avocado green color brings me back to memories of the family dishwasher we had when I was a kid.
One of the most amazing restorations at the event was this barikan Corona. Everything on it was painfully mint, from original floral print fabric upholstery (unfortunately the lighting conditions were not conducive to photographing it) to the labels on the air cleaner. The owner undertook the project because a Corona just like this was first car and he was feeling the nostalgia. Though he bought the most complete car he could, there was still much to be restored. For evidence just look at the condition of the original tool kit.
In contrast, the owner of the white Corona in the lead photo bought his as-is. While there was some fading on the paint not visible in the photos its survivor status is just as impressive, and it even came with a complete hand-written log book.
Last but not least are a pair of Corona wagons, including a very rare 1973 RT89 (right). It was imported for one year only at the tail end of the T80 generation, making it one of the most uncommon Toyotas you’ll ever see. We caught this pair early in the morning, but by mid-day the owner of the RT89 had brought out an entire collection of vintage accessories, including a swamp cooler, lugage, pedal car and construction toys.
Meanwhile, the Corona Mark II stayed sleek and elegant, proving just how good Toyota was at designing gorgeous wagons. They were in short supply this year, but there’s nothing quite like a Toyota longroof.
To be continued…