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…
We’ll have more coverage of the 2015 Toyotafest coming up, but in the meantime, here’s some coverage from Toyotafest 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.
I am so happy to see that there is a really good photo of my soarer!!!!! Mine has the 80shero plare
I don’t know if you had a chance to read my last comment. I am currently working on the trdusa.com website and need to gather images for a Heritage Timeline feature. While searching for the Fuji 24 hour Endurance Race, I stumbled upon an article you wrote (http://japanesenostalgiccar.com/2011/09/08/jccs-2011-preview-jnc-best-of-the-best-t-shirt/), which contained an awesome photo of the Toyota 2000GT (http://japanesenostalgiccar.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Toyota-2000GT-Fuji-24hr.jpg).
I was hoping I could have permission to post it on our site.
Hi Eileen. Yes, go right ahead. We don’t own the photo. I believe it was from the Toyota Japan website.
Also found this. Have you guys seen these? They were posted a few months ago.
thank you, sir!
Sorry, one last question…
So I can use the photo free and clear? Is there any waiver or release we need to sign?
I believe the photo is owned by Toyota Japan for media use. I can’t answer any more than that because we don’t own the photo.
If you want to use that pic might as well go big:
From this webpage:
thank you very much!
And Toyota Corp is leaving all this behind… cutting off their roots like Nissan did
contact your state representatives and ask them to stop screwing californian residents and businesses into the ground and maybe they won’t go shopping for greener pastures in less oppressive areas of the country.
Better idea: let the 3,000 Toyota employees in Torrance write their elected officials… They either move to Plano or quit Toyota.
Similar choice was given Nissan’s Gardena HQ employees for the corporate move to Tenessee. Guess how many went? Yep, just a few…
Instant attrition & paying lower salaries for the replacements (win-win)
Still, keep the museum in Cali, Mr. Akio-San!
The blue Cressida is awesome.
As both a Toyota and automotive enthusiast, I was embarrassed by many of the judge’s choices this year. RE: Cressida’s: It’s pretty pathetic that you consider that the essence of Japanese style is a bunch of simple bolt-on’s and sticker bombs these days, instead of putting in the work to make something unique and OEM+. When the hand-built, home-brew Factory upgrade cars like Lloyd’s Zombie, Brad’s CF Lightwieight, or Evan’s Rootbeer Toyota’s get passed up for pure, easily obtainable cosmetics . . . . the wrong judges are in place, especially for a banner year like the 20th anniversary Toyotafest. And the widebody Matrix with zero recognition? WTH?
I can’t tell if you’re confusing me with a judge. Let me be clear: I did not judge this year. What’s the criteria for a good car? Not everyone thinks the more mods the better. As it happens, though, I agree with you about Evan and Lloyd’s Cressidas, and I have said written many, many good words about them over the years.
For one man I agree with you 100%. There were far better and more deserving cars that should have got the award and in my opinion I shouldn’t have won anything. That’s not the reason why I entered my car into the show. But there’s no need to insult me or my car. You don’t know the story behind my build. I didn’t build it up from a rusty pile of junk to win trophies or awards. I did it to show off my take on kyusha style cars and to pay homage to something I enjoy and look up too. I don’t understand why there is such a need to prove you’re better then someone else by winning a stupid award.
Personally I prefer to leave most cars as standard as some of the modifications are horrible
just wish we had gotten more of the jap coupes and performance cars here in aus.
I had always wanted to see a barikan on wats. It looks just as awesome as I thought it would. Anyone want to try the look on a Toyopet now?
That would be awesome!
That 1600GT-lookalike Corona is one of my all time favorites! I love the T80-series also, although somehow the design always seems a bit Mitsubishi to me… Corona Mark II is so gorgeous. I guess I’m a Corona fan.
Are the ducktail spoilers seen on the Cressidas here typically fabricated by the owners, or are they aftermarket? If they are made by a company, anyone know where I could get one for an AE101 Corolla?
awesome article! thank you for the kind words Ben. v(^_^)