This year’s Toyotafest was headlined by the many generations of Supra in support of the A90’s debut. With all the focus on the new six-cylinder sports car, let’s not forget that Toyota has built plenty of fun fours. More and more of these specimen from the 80s and 90s are appearing at Toyotafest — Celicas, MR2s, Corollas, and more MR2s.
In some markets, the new Supra comes in a four-cylinder version. It would probably be appropriate to call that car the Celica, as these early four-cylinder coupes were what spawned the Supra to begin with. On the other hand, perhaps it was best not anger the Toyota loyalists by reviving two sacred names on a BMW platform.
As a prescient example of what Toyota could have done if they didn’t want to go with a BMW powertrain, there were no less than three A60 Celicas with Lexus V8 engines. Robert Clark, Moises Rivera and Frank De Jesus each showed off 1UZ swaps so immaculate they look like they came from the factory. Frank, whose RA65 originated the swap many years ago, received a prize for the classic Celica category.
Ignacio Calderon’s 1985 Celica GTS convertible was a lovely example said to be original and non-restored. A quintessential car for 1980s Los Angeles, it was a shame that the weather this year was mostly overcast.
Sean Dana’s 1987 Celica convertible is one of the cleanest examples of the breed that we’ve encountered, and took home a prize in the transverse-engine Celica category. Said to be under continuous restoration since purchased in 2015, the car still wears its original paint and otherwise appears stock except for a tasteful two-inch drop.
Another winner the in the transverse-engine Celica class was Tomas Perez’s 1988 All-Trac. The rare machine was displayed with some even rarer Volk Racing Touring Evolution Fortesst wheels.
RJ Panlilio rounded out the class winners with his beautifully restored 1993 Celica All-Trac. With rally-style Compomotive wheels and TTE tribute mudflaps, the car was a wonderful homage to Toyota’s WRC years.
There was an absolutely mammoth turnout of MR2s this year. From some vantage points of Marina Green, mid-engined sports cars sprawled as far as the eye could see in all directions. Craig Higa’s red 1993 Turbo exemplified the SoCal street style, with some brassy 17-inch Work Equips, a Berk dual exhaust, and Tein coilovers.
Martin Maxwell earned an award in the MR2 category for his 1986 AW11, a car he actively autocrosses with a black-top 20-valve 4AG mated to a 6-speed transmission.
Duncan MacKay’s black Canadian-spec 1991 MR2 Turbo sported subtle, period correct mods such as rare 3-piece Racing Harts and a Kei Office rear wing that added just a hint of aggression.
Jeff Yeo’s 1989 supercharged is yet another prime example of peak AW11. Like Martin and Duncan, Jeff is part of a massive crew of MR2 owners that make the impressive journey down to Long Beach from Washington and Canada each year.
Sofia Ramirez’s 1986 MR2 was a stunning example of an early AW11. Zenki examples are a bit less common, and we appreciated the bizarre-but-factory 3-spoke wheels and crystal clear rear window visor.
Ray Sebastian took home an award in the MR2 class for his gorgeous 3S-GTE-powered AW11. Dark Blue Metallic is an underrated hue in a sea of whites and reds.
We are very familiar with Richard Lin’s supercharged 1988 MR2. We first encountered it in SEMA back in 2017, when it gave us renewed hope in a land of over-modified horrors. It was great to revisit a fine example of a supercharged AW11, and it’s even appeared on an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.
Richard Tatunay’s 1989 supercharged sported plenty of period parts like a 5Zigen Border 304 exhaust and SSR Type X wheels. It was finished in a rare Ice Blue Pearl, too.
A microtrend we noticed is that there are more and more stock second-generation MR2s coming out of the woodwork. Bob Pham’s Dark Emerald Pearl over tan 1995 Turbo was a stellar representation of the sporting 90s.
Michael Mellor’s Crimson Red 1991 Turbo was another very clean example of a second-gen MR2, restored to stock aside from the stereo and a set of Enkei RPF1s.
Matt DeMoss’s 1994 MR2 Turbo was one of the cleanest examples we’ve ever seen. Said to be in original, non-restored condition, it had its original window sticker proudly on display and showing a loaded options list totaling $32,638. It’s no surprise he took home an award in the SW20 category.
Russell Turnbull won multiple awards for his 1994 MR2. For his RAV4 3.5-liter V6 swap with a Lotus Exige turbocharger, he received a prize for outstanding workmanship in the SW20 class. For the slick retro Toyota tricolor livery, he was honored with one of two Kousoku Yuen Toyotaku Awards.
Surprisingly, there were few AE86s present at this year’s show. Perhaps owners are all at home repainting their drift missiles to cash in on the skyrocketing prices of choice examples. Ryan Sandoval’s flared Trueno conversion hatch on Work Equip 03s secured an award in the AE86/92 class.
Alex Bircheff’s Corolla GT-S coupe also received an award in the same class, thanks in part to a painstaking body restoration and repaint. With nicely paired SSR MkIII wheels, Trueno fascia, and roll bar, it looks ready to attack mountain passes.
Javier Soto-Vega’s Corolla FX-16 GT-S, swapped with a black-top 20-valve 4AG, served as a good reminder that front-drive Corollas can be fun too.
Speaking of which, Kevin Stump’s 1991 Corolla proved that we are now in the era where once-ordinary and ubiquitous AE92 sedans are getting some serious love. The trans, sway bars, and brakes are swapped from a similar era GT-S, it’s been lowered on a fully polyurethaned suspension, and it’s even received a PPG repaint in the original factory 183 Dark Gray Metallic. That’s some serious effort and coin, but in the end proves that fun can be had with all sorts of old Toyotas.
To be continued…