Toyota Celica GT-Four tribute stuffs GR Corolla drivetrain into GR86

Toyota has commissioned an interesting project for this fall’s SEMA Show. It plans to create a tribute to the famed Celica GT-Four rally cars by Frankenstein-ing two existing performance cars together. A GR86 will provide the coupe body, while a GR Corolla will donate its hardware for a turbo AWD drivetrain.

Photog and videographer Larry Chen recently paid a visit to Evasive Motorsports to get the lowdown on the build. Toyota isn’t doing it themselves, but has tapped the well-known southern California tuning shop to execute the project because this is a SEMA Build.

In order to make it work, all the running gear, including the engine, transmission, transfer case — basically everything between the floorpan and the wheels — must come from the GR Corolla as a unit. There are far too many lines of software talking to the various components to mix and match. That means the longitudinal Subaru boxer is gone, and turbo 1.6-liter will be transversely mounted in its place.

Making it fit with enough clearance to actually work on it requires notching the frame rails. Fortunately it’s a three-cylinder or it wouldn’t have fit without major surgery to the structure of the GR86. The taller engine lower must also be positioned lower in relation to the body in order for the hood to close. A lot of custom fabrication needs to take place as well, from engine mounts to cooling lines. Interestingly, the donor GR86 looks to be a Trueno Edition.

This is probably not what people had in mind as they besieged Toyota with requests for a turbocharged 86, but it works. The GR Corolla’s engine has tons of power potential and is used in Toyota’s GR Yaris rally cars. Ever since the GR Yaris’ debut, Toyota has been making comparisons with the original ST165 Celica GT-Four. Many, including us, thought that link seemed tenuous but Toyota is apparently showing us how it’s done.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that this is yet another rush in the river of Celica hints that Toyota has been dropping. Is this part of a greater plan to drum up interest in a Celica revival, a random marketing exercise by Toyota USA, or just another excuse to use Castrol livery? We’ll just have to wait and see.

The project has potential for variance too, since the GT-Four saw a lot of action. Once the initial “tuner” version is complete, slap on a lift kit and snorkel for the Safari edition. Or go really retro with the Repsol livery. Toyota may be able to squeeze several years of shows out of it, and maybe by that time we’ll actually know if the Celica is coming or not.

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4 Responses to Toyota Celica GT-Four tribute stuffs GR Corolla drivetrain into GR86

  1. Taylor C. says:

    Hinting a Celica, an upcoming Honda Prelude, some upcoming MR-2, some crazy looking Miata as well as the RX-Vision; I was just telling my neighbor how it’s unfortunate that the majority of the automotive consumers go towards the SUVs and crossovers, that the supply of coupes are limited to less than a handful. Seeing these concepts gives me hope that my automotive tastes might actually expand outside of the 80s, 90s, and 2000s one day.

  2. BlitzPig says:

    It’s a “hot rodder” one off for the SEMA show, nothing more. It’s not built by Toyota or Subaru and will never see production. Don’t get your hopes up.

  3. Franxou says:

    It is good to see manufacturers try to do something exciting to drive, as lately cars and SUVs are mostly advertized on their in-car entertainment, tech and fuel economy. If they continue to only tout their car-phone-yness like this, cars will become just another appliance that drives itself while you play on your phone, and the car buying experience will become the same as cross-shoping a Maytag versus an LG versus a Frigidaire.
    They will have to create something exciting, tempting to drive, otherwise drivers will become an extinct species.
    It is good to see Toyota trying hard and with multiple entries!

    • BlitzPig says:

      I agree with you, but for the majority of car buyers their vehicle is just what you describe, a transportation appliance, nothing more. Sad, but true

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