Toyota’s SEMA presence this year was all about the Baja 1000. Ivan “Ironman” Stewart and his perfect hair were hanging around at the booth along with a ground pounding Toyota truck in the old tricolor racing livery.
The old truck was there to represent Toyota’s impressive 303 wins, 27 manufacturer’s championships and 28 driver’s championships in off-road racing. A tricked out Tundra TRD Pro and a trio of bright red support trucks — all with the classic “TOYOTA” grilles (Helvetica > ovals) — were parked like ducks in a row. But unlike most SEMA show queens these will be banged up and scratched in about a week’s time. Immediately after the show ends they’ll be whisked away to Mexico to cover 1,130 miles of unpaved desert and mountain terrain in the Baja 1000.
Toyota also pulled the wraps off what was probably the first RWD Camry since the original 1980-82 Celica Camry. Built by Toyota Motorsports USA, it confused attendees with what appeared to be a bone stock 2015 family hauler. Then they popped the body off to reveal a supercharged and nitrous-injected 850hp Tundra V8 strapped to a tube frame chassis. Amazingly, the body stayed in tact (with reinforcements) and the doors and trunk still open. It was an impressive achievement, but what is Toyota really trying to say?
Baja 1000 trucks, NHRA funny cars, monster trucks, and NASCAR. Is Toyota suffering an identity crisis? Wherefore art thou drifters, time attackers and wangan racers, Toyota?
Toyota also showed a DUB-modified Sienna SE. We are on the record as saying Sienna SEs (and minivans in general) can be cool, and this was a decent effort.
However, at the SEMA preview we attended last week, Toyota invited a slew of Siennas from Vankulture. These weren’t allowed inside, but any single one of them more home-built and more impressive than the official SEMA project. Prediction: SEMA 2015 will have plenty of VIP vans.
For vintage flavor, we had to turn to Scion, which had a couple of pretty cool neo-hachiroku dressed in retro duds. The Speedhunters build had our favorite exterior, with the retro livery, fender mirrors and a big “86” tribute rather than the “98” found on the IMSA GTO Celicas. The best looking engine, however, was Super Street’s ITB setup. 70mm velocity stacks look pretty wild on a boxer.
And then there as this magnificent thing: a Scion xB done up in 1970s vanning style. There were so many brilliant touches, including porthole windows, custom Cragar wheels and a 70s-era stripe graphic. The inside was slathered in shag carpeting and light-absorbing vinyl so brown we couldn’t even take a good photo of it. To top it all off, there was a CB radio and functioning 8-track player.
Toyota definitely had the largest presence, but in other good news Nissan to SEMA returned for the first time since 2008. A 370Z NISMO safety car and a GT-R NISMO looking mean in matte gray occupied the small booth. We had the honor of interviewing Hiroshi Tamura, product planner of the GT-R, which we’ll have a separate article on shortly.
Braille is a company that sells a GoPro charger to extend its battery life while performing sick stunts. The BRE-themed drift 350Z at their booth is the former Enjuku Racing drift 350Z that’s been modified and re-skinned as a Gymkhana Grid car. It was built by the East Ridge High School auto shop class in Clermont, Florida. We’re glad the kids are paying attention to heritage.
Last but not least, there were several soon-to-be-nostalgic early 90s machines, including an S13 with S14 snout riding on a set of new Enkei PF-01 Evo wheels, a FWD drag racing DA Integra (remember when those were all the rage?) and one of the few NSXes at SEMA that did not make us cry from its hideous mods.
We’ll have more SEMA coverage coming up, but for now here’s a photo dump.