SEMA 2016: Toyota brings out the classics


For the 50th anniversary of the Corolla, Toyota brought out one of its best SEMA displays ever, which included one example of every generation of the world’s best-selling nameplate. That alone would have been a pretty awesome display already, but Toyota went a step further, pulling out a grip of non-Corolla classics from their museum to match their current lineup. 


Check out this Toyota bread box! This could be the first time a Made in the 80s ‘Yotavan has been shown on the SEMA floor. Not only is it mint and sharing the same OEM pizza cutters as an AE86 of similar vintage, it’s a fully loaded model with dual sunroof and ice maker in the center console.

Beside it was a new Sienna in bone stock form, and next to that, built specifically for the the SEMA Show, was a custom Sienna that looked like something Xzibit would have pimped 10 years ago.

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In another corner, a 1966 Toyota Stout pickup — one of 4,219 sold in the US — stood alongside a 2017 Tacoma, and next to that was a Tacoma TRD Pro race truck that will compete in the upcoming Mint 400 off-road race in Las Vegas. See a pattern beginning to emerge?

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A Toyota 2000GT was matched with a brand new 2017 Toyota 86 and a Toyota CS-Cup race car imported from Germany. Apparently, there’s going to be a one-make race featuring the GT86 in Europe.

This particular 2000GT is notable for being one of nine MF12 models built, with the 2.3-liter single-cam engine. Only four 2000GTs were imported to the US in 1969, and this is one of them.


It is also notable how stupendously low the 2000GT is. It barely clears the stanchions surrounding it, and the MF12 even rode about an inch higher than the original MF10. There’s also a large aircon unit in the back, like in later 2000GTs. The stanchions made for shit pictures, but it’s probably worth it to keep the grubby mitts of the unwashed masses off of the car.


Even the Prius got in on the action.


Some of the customized cars looked downright goofy. The KE10 and purple 50th Anniversary Edition were fine, but then someone went and turned a new Corolla into Ultraman’s codpiece. Because SEMA. At least the pillarless hardtop coupe conversion was somewhat neat, though given the rest of the car we’d wager it was an accidental throwback to the Corollas of old and not an intentional homage.


Moving on, a very cool, very early, and very rare 1961 FJ25 headed up the Land Cruiser section. In this case, the SEMA-fied version of its modern equivalent was actually pretty awesome.


The so-called Land Speed Cruiser is billed as the “world’s fastest SUV.” Its 5.7-liter V8 has been twin-turbocharged to the tune of 2,000 horsepower. That’s how much is needed to get a full-size box to go a claimed 220 mph. The interior was gutted and caged, and modified to fit a custom transmission to put down that power. It also looked pretty good tucked to the ground.


The real highlight of the display, however, was the lineup of all 11 generations of Corolla. We overheard someone say that this is the first time they’ve all been together in the US, and we have no reason to doubt that.


Most were from Toyota’s own USA museum, but there were privately owned cars as well to fill in the gaps that the museum was missing. We were particularly enamored with Scott Kanemura’s mustard 1975 TE37 SR5 and blue 1983 AE71 2-Door Sport Coupe.

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The TE27 on display was another privately owned example, wonderfully restored — with a few JDM touches like fender mirrors and Tom’s Igeta wheels — by Ray Gonzaga of RaceToys.


The AE86 was represented by Janet Fujimoto’s beautiful zenki hatch, all stock but for a slight drop. It is quite possibly the best restored GT-S in the country.


The 2017 Corolla took center stage, but then the family tree continued onward. As it happens, the the field was divided neatly into rear- and front-drive examples. The museum’s white AE92 GT-S, a somewhat overlooked model due to its front-driviness, is a particularly fetching example. The gold sixth-gen and silver eight-gen were recent museum acquisitions shown to the public for the first time (not that you can’t see identical ones on every corner in America, but you get the idea).


Last but not least and sitting by itself was the KE10 ran The Great Race. We actually had the chance to drive this very car last summer, and it was a hairy experience to say the least. This makes three first-gen Corollas gathered in one place, which must be a record of some kind not counting when the cars were sold new.

It was a massive display of Toyota heritage, and from our limited observation the classics were the biggest hits of the display. Many attendees — and this is a show exclusive to the auto industry, remember — weren’t even aware that Toyota’s history stretched that far back. Perhaps next year it’ll be back to business as usual with monster truck Tundras and hot rodded Camrys, but for this year at least, the classics were king.


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25 Responses to SEMA 2016: Toyota brings out the classics

  1. Scotty G says:

    Ben, warn a brother to install the keyboard drool guard next time, please!

    Man, those vehicles are worth the price of getting to SEMA by themselves. That E10 wagon is to die for, almost like my first car (mine was a red ’71) but so much nicer. The KE10 and Stout would be my next pics, gorgeous! And a guaranteed future classic, the first-gen Prius! Love it!

    Thanks for the update, I’m looking forward to the whole SEMA series.

  2. mister k says:


    as for the 50 years of corolla badging, not such a big deal, since it became FWD, it wasn’t actually a corolla anymore

    • Yoda says:

      It would be more accurate to say that it wasn’t really a Corolla until the FWDs came along since they’ve been around longer than the RWDs were (19 years and 32 years counting the ’84-87 overlap on both sides).

  3. John Moran says:

    Like the older Vegas vibe and the first pic had that cool feel. Starting to get a little more interested in the classic Toyotas and one of my favorites at the recent Street Neo Classics show was the blue TE27. Also like the white one above, but the modern plates on these cars look out of place.

    However, the comment about the new Corolla was definitely the codpiece de resistance for me.

  4. Charlie says:

    Fantastic work !! happy to see Toyota taking the time to remember what made them great.

    P.S. are we ever going to see an installment of the Toyotas from JCCS ??

  5. Mike says:

    Unfortunately, even at an industry only event, the stanchions are needed. Last year, people kept trying to get into the Datsun roadster in the Garrett booth, even though the owner was standing right there, and the doors were locked as a deterrent.. Never had that problem at JCCS.

  6. Legacy-san says:

    …the stuff you can find on Wikipedia…the Stout was developed by Toyota, but starting with the HiLux, which is the grandfather of all modern Toyota trucks (and SUV’s for that matter), was originally developed by Hino when Toyota bought them in 1966, and Hino still does Toyota’s commercial heavy lifting…Hino’s small truck was called the Hino Briska

    • Punto8 says:

      So I did some extensive research on this and I am pretty sure that the HiLux was developed by Toyota and not Hino. The Briska was based off a Renault derived car platform and engine. When Toyota acquired Hino they ceased production of the Briska and every other preexisting model. Two years later in 1968 came the first HiLux. The Toyota truck is just that …a Toyota Truck.

  7. Scott Kanemura says:

    Hello JNC,

    Just to let you know the TE37 is not owned by the museum. That’s my car.


    • Ben Hsu says:

      Sorry, Scott. Corrected!

    • sabin simard says:

      Hello Scott, you have probably the most beautiful car at that car show i.m.h.o.. My father who was a Toyota dealer in Québec at that period sold one like yours but brand new in december 1975, it was a 1976 TE37 SR5 with 532 color code like your car,1976 was the only year that shade of yellow was availlable (with first serie of 1977 that were also built in 1976). Have you had problem finding windshield rubber seal for your Toyota, it’s sad but it’s all the sadness about collecting or simply keeping alive and finding parts for beautiful classic toyotas. Hope BIG Toyota will wake up one day but for today, SHAME ON YOU TOYOTA.

      • Gary says:


        Again shamefully plugging our business – but we (Toyota Heritage) in Australia are doing a part by part working with enthusiasts to bring the unobtanium to the market. Check us out if you get a chance – or find us on facebook

        • sabin simard says:

          Hi Gary. Many many thanks for your greatness and i have immediately put your site in the favoris of my computer but my problem is that i have an MX32 who have near forty year old and many plastics Inside the car are… But i will repeat my SHAME ON YOU TOYOTA even today. Have a nice day.

        • Scott Kanemura says:

          please let me know if you could get the rubber seals for the rear quarter windows! i will buy them. if not I’m thinking 1969 camero ones might fit. lol

      • Scott Kanemura says:

        wow! thanks for the nice compliment! mines must be a early 76. yes i agree finding parts is very difficult!

  8. Gary says:

    Love it love it love it. Gotta get to SEMA one day!

  9. Kyle Soler says:

    Dam those are some nice Corollas I wonder what my half brother would of thought about that white KE20 as he owns a black 4door.

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