As engines go, the Toyota straight-six is one of the best conceived by humankind. Smooth as Suntory whiskey, as long-lived as a mountain, and capable of stupid amounts of horsepower in later iterations, they are a triumph of automotive engineering. It’s no wonder the 2016 Toyotafest had over four decades of them and the cars they powered.
One of the earliest was Janet Fujimoto’s 1970 Toyota Crown, which she and her husband Duane Tomono spent several years resto-modding. The original 2M has been replaced with its successor many generations removed, the venerable 2JZ from a Lexus SC. With Yokohama-wrapped Enkei Tenjins, the car is what Janet and Duane call their Pro-Touring Crown — a mix of old school Japanese with a dash of modern muscle car influence. As the feature car on this year’s Toyotafest flyer, it got a spot right next to the main stage.
Americans never did fully embrace the Crown, though, so Toyota introduced the Corona Mark II. Slotting size-wise between the RT40 Corona and the Crown, it was a tad less luxurious but featured the same 2M inline-6 beneath a slightly larger Corona-esque body.
Judith Mendoza’s Corona and Eddie Guerrero’s Corona Mark II, both 1969 models, illustrate the evolution perfectly. Both were original, non-restored survivors that looked quite impressive for being nearly 50 years old.
Of course, after a few more generations the Mark II would eventually become its own model, dropping the “Corona” from its name. In the US, that model became known as the Cressida. The days of little-old-lady MX32s unearthed and bought for peanuts are nearly gone, so it’s nice to see a survivor in period color that’s just been cleaned up and lowered on unique wheels — Uniroyal Spokes, in this case. It’s got everything you need to arrive in style.
Of course, if you need to arrive in a hurry, there are cars like Mark Diaz’s sleeper. The MX73 lures unsuspecting challengers in with its stock appearance, but instead of the stock 5M, rocks a 12-psi turbocharged Lexus V8 under the hood.
Gabriel Gurule’s beautiful two-tone 1983 Cressida houses a modern powerplant as well. The Japan-market 1JZ-GTE was commonly found in Soarers, Chasers, and even specially-built Crowns used in unmarked police car duty. We appreciate the brilliant installation, whose lack of bright chrome and any color other than black for the hoses and accessories give the impression of a factory install.
Of course, it is the Supra that’s almost synonymous with Toyota inline-sixes. This year’s Toyotafest saw a strong contingent of fourth-gens, the combined horsepower of which could have easily propelled an aircraft carrier. As with the MR2s in Part 01, over-vented, over-winged body kits are passé now. Instead, clean factory colors with nary a sticker in sight is the prevailing look nowadays, something we’ve been patiently waiting for since 1999.
Take Chris Wealch’s 1993 Supra Turbo, for instance. Under the sloping hood lies a monstrous 850-horsepower 2JZ-GTE — but aside from the peeking intercooler, a front lip, and HRE wheels, it could pass for stock. “Original body with matching VINs” Chris proudly states.
Strong MkIII builds and restorations are beginning to surface as well. Craig Higa’s zenki has been on the show circuit for a few years, but his attention to detail and its utter flawlessness is always amazing to behold. Though the product of a six-year build including a complete tear-down of its naturally aspirated 7M, a restrained exterior is nothing but tasteful.
Along with Craig, Jill Stonawski’s gray kouki stood out as one of the best A70s of the show. Built in the memory of her late father, who owned both a first-gen and third-gen Supra, it was clearly a labor of love. The period Bomex body kit and Manaray wheels are perfect choices, as is the 1JZ-GTE under the hood.
Earlier Supras didn’t show up in great numbers this year. Only three MkIIs showed up and one bone-stock MkI. Most were probably edged out by the first-come, first-serve registration that that sold out in just eight hours. As the owner of a 1980 Supra, I always get irrationally excited by seeing a fellow traveler, even if our cars are the least-loved of all the Supras. Unfortunately, the owner of this one was nowhere to be found.
This year, a new bosozoku-inspired crew calling themselves the Moonlight Runners emerged. Although ruined, this Cressida is a more noble zokusha effort that we’ve seen in the past. The molded tail is rather impressive, as are the bubble flares over wide SSR MkIs. The plywood tail detracts a bit, but the shape is spot on perhaps it would work with a different material. Perhaps it’s not fair to judge a work in progress, though, and we can’t wait to see what it looks like when finished and painted.
Wandering over to some MX83s next, we see a beautiful USDM Cressida with a good driving stance on Work Rezax wheels. The minimal look with choice items make for a brilliant overall appearance. This is exactly the type of car Kousoku Yuen would be all over.
The product of many years of hard work, Richard Rabe’s MX83 build shows super-human effort. It was all self-built with a turbo 2JZ and self-painted (in Mitsubishi Mirage Plasma Purple!) and then fitted with an X100 Chaser front end. “It probably won’t look like this for long, though,” Richard told us. Why? “Because I’m going drifting with it.”
For purists, there’s always this 1978 Cressida Wagon. It’s grown a roof rack since we saw it at Toyotafest 2013, but it remains charmingly 70s. It’s under new ownership of a father-son duo, but seems to be in good hands. At setup, it drove in without hubcaps at the insistence of son — who is nearing driving age and will soon inherit the car — because he didn’t want to risk losing one on SoCal’s famously bumpy roads.
One cannot talk about Toyota straight-sixes without mentioning the 1967 2000GT. With a bespoke twin-cam based on the Crown block and designed by Yamaha, it helped set Japan’s first supercar apart from other machines of that era. We’ve seen this car, owned by Toyota USA, at several Toyotafest and JCCS shows now but its gorgeous design never gets old. For those who have never seen one in person, it’s worth the entire trip just to behold this one car. To be continued…
Stay tuned for more Toyotafest 2016 coverage. In the meantime, in case you missed it, check out Part 01, as well as 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).