If you’d asked a ten-year-old me about Toyota, I would have said that they made the most boring cars. Of course, I didn’t know any better. I hadn’t heard of the Supra, Celica, MR2, AE86 or the Cressida. All I had seen were modern Camrys, Corollas, Taragos and Hilux’s. The only redeeming feature of Toyota that I knew of was that the Hilux was indestructible thanks to Top Gear's failed attempts to drown, burn and demolish one.
However, if a ten year old me had been at this past weekends Toyota Winterfest, I'm sure my perception of this renowned brand would have changed, as there were plenty of cool and unique Toyotas on display.
The Celica is one of Toyotas most successful names. It began as Toyota's answer to the Datsun 240Z and Ford Mustang, but then evolved into its small FWD sports car by the 1990's.
One of the Celica's many accomplishments was its participation in the World Rally Championship. This Celica GT-Four complete with rally lights, mudflaps and period correct wheels gave a reminder to those at the meet of Toyota's rally heritage.
Another interesting Celica was this second generation RA45 GT. The original 2-litre is long gone and replaced with full electric power. With EV powertrains becoming more and more popular and common, it sure is interesting to see a classic Celica being taken down the same route.
A name spawned from the Celica lineup was the Supra, arguably Toyota's most famous model of sports car. Although the MK4 Supra is what put Toyota on the map for performance, my personal favourite is the MK2, and this completely original Supra was a pristine example of one.
One car that has cemented Toyota as one of the best manufacturers is the Corolla. Production began in 1966, and with the fuel crisis of 1974, fuel efficient cars like the Corolla soon became a best seller. By 1997, the reliable and practical Corolla became the most sold car in the world, knocking the Volkswagen Beetle from the top. Not only that, but generations of the Corolla like the AE86 have become JDM legends and an emblem for drifting.
There were quite a handful of Corollas parked up, but this KE70 was my favourite. Slammed on the ground and with a turbocharged 4AGE under the hood, I imagine it goes like stink. It certainly isn't what Toyota imagined for the fourth generation of its best selling car.
Another surprise was this couple of hatchbacks. From afar, they looked like ordinary Toyota Corollas, yet within closer inspection they turned out to be the Toyota Blade, only sold in Japan. Stuffed under the small bonnet is a 3.5 litre V6 putting out 206kW, and I'd imagine that's plenty.
Speaking of sleepers, Toyota can build a mean sedan, like this drift inspired JZX100. An MX83 Cressida was also hiding around the corner, a car I've become rather fond of recently, with plenty of potential.
Today, Toyota continue to be at the forefront of the motor industry, whilst still creating performance cars for the enthusiast such as the GR Yaris, GT86 and new Supra. It will only be a matter of time before these become classics as well. In the meantime, it's great to see an interesting collection of Toyotas on a Sunday morning.