By Steve & Tamami Laser
The love for Scion, Toyota and Lexus cars and trucks runs so deep in Southern California (and across the nation) that two recent news events couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm among the scores of fans who attended the annual Toyotafest car show in Long Beach, Calif., on May 7. Toyotafest is presented by TORC, the Toyota Owners and Restorers Club.
The second event, the upcoming move next year of Toyota Motor Sales’ corporate offices from Torrance, Calif., to Plano, Texas, is perhaps not as newsworthy to enthusiasts as the discontinuation of Scion. Yet the first Toyotas arrived on a boat at the nearby port of Los Angeles in 1957. America’s long-running love-affair with Japanese cars got its start here in L.A. Toyota has been a fixture in So. Cal. for nearly 60 years.
We take a closer look at some of the gorgeous Scion FR-S models on display by their owners in our above video.
While Scion may be going away, its popularity continues to soar with collectors. Many Scion models are likely to remain popular in the years ahead. In the case of the FR-S, it’s not really going away at all. Instead, it will be relaunched as the Toyota 86, using its international model name.
The Scion FR-S is extremely popular with enthusiasts who enjoy nearly endless ways to modify their cars. Scion and TRD offer parts and accessories while performance, handling, appearance and interior parts are also available from a variety of aftermarket companies.
Check out the cool Scion concept vehicles from the past in this video that were brought out of retirement and put on display at this year’s Toyotafest.
Scion says the xA Speedster Concept (above and below) by Five Axis was created for the 2005 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show to showcase the latest in entertainment technology. Originally inside the concept were three Xbox 360s loaded with Forza Motorsport, and hooked up two monitors behind the front seats, as well as a projector display under the hood.
The Five Axis Scion xA Speedster features a chopped roof, wide body kit, and a unique Persimmon Pearl paint job from House of Colors. Scion says that for a small performance boost, Five Axis also dropped in an AEM cold air intake, paired with a DC Sports header.
The bright yellow custom sedan is the Eddie Huang Scion iA concept from the 2015 SEMA Show. Scion says it embraces L.A. culture with a modern take on the classic lowrider, outfitting a Scion iA with a chain-link steering wheel and custom swivel front seats and more.
The exterior features metallic yellow paint with root beer accents. A mural of a “human panda” is on the hood. Huang also added wire wheels dipped in gold, along with a one-of-a-kind gold-plated front grille.
This video takes a look at iconic Scion xB models, customized by their owners, and displayed at this year’s Toyotafest.
When the upstart division of Toyota was launched in 2003, the Scion xB served as the iconic flagship of the youth-oriented brand. It was different. It was cool. It was affordable. And it could be modified in a zillion ways.
Scion said the xB’s design team aimed for a “lounge-like interior that met the comfort and lifestyle needs of the customer.” Little did they know at the time that customers would take matters into their own hands and add things like scissor-style doors on the customized xB shown in our video.
While Scion explored the possibilities of adding a pickup to the line, it never happened. So the owner of this radically customized xB took matters into their own hands. It reminds us a bit of the Toyota bB “Open Deck” concept that we saw at a previous Tokyo Motor Show, although that one had an even smaller bed.
Scion discontinued the xB at the end of the 2015 model run. Enthusiasts will continue to collect and modify this cult classic for years to come. By the way, it’s still being produced and sold as the Corolla Rumion in Japan with slightly different front styling. We spotted one on the street in Kyoto, Japan, last year and included a photo in our Mint in Box story.
We captured some of the customized Scion tC models at Toyotafest in this video.
The long-running Scion tC also remains a hot commodity with enthusiasts and collectors. Scion was able to support two coupe models by virtue of their different personalities and pricing.
While the Scion FR-S will continue as a Toyota, the tC is unfortunately being discontinued. Yet it will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of enthusiasts as an affordable collectible that’s easy to customize.
We had the good fortune to test-drive a modified tC for a week (last year) when Scion let us borrow a car fitted with TRD parts. Check out our 2015 Scion tC review.
One of the most overlooked Scion models is the tiny iQ. Since few were sold in the U.S., it remains a rare sight. This one-of-a-kind customized model sports scissor-style doors and a “Lexus” style grille.
Shifting gears to Toyota, we take a look at some of the cool Corolla models on display at the Toyotafest in our video.
Toyota says that with more than 43 million vehicles sold over the last 50 years, the Toyota Corolla has been a part of more people’s lives “than any car ever manufactured.”
It’s certainly been a favorite with collectors and enthusiasts who have modified Corollas in every way imaginable. This customized “Sprinter” sports a hopped-up DOHC 4-cylinder engine fed by throaty side-draft carbs.
This 1969 Corolla was on display from the Toyota USA Automobile Museum. It’s powered by a 4-cylinder OHV 1.1L engine that puts out just 60 horsepower. Yet with an original retail price of $1,700, it was a strong seller. Toyota says that in 1970 the Corolla became the most popular import in the U.S.
Our video (above) highlights models on display at the Toyota company exhibit, including this super-rare 2000GT.
The 2000GT on display from Toyota’s collection, model number MF10L, was built on October 12, 1967, and is one of the rare left-hand drive editions. While the production run of 337 makes it scarce today, even rarer are the 54 models that were imported to North America.
The 2000GT first appeared as a prototype at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show and was later put into limited production in 1967. It featured a 6-cylinder DOHC engine delivering 150 horsepower through a 5-speed manual gearbox to the rear wheels. With a base price of $7,230, it was more expensive than sports cars of the day like the Chevrolet Corvette and Jaguar XKE.
We were lucky to get up-close-and-personal with four 2000GTs during our recent backstage tour of the Toyota Automobile Museum in Japan, including the “James Bond” roadster.
These highly collectible Celica models were parked on the lawn next to the bay. We captured them in our walkaround video (and tried not to fall into the water.)
The first Celica sold in the U.S. was a 1971 model with a 4-cylinder SOHC engine, 108 horsepower, and a 4-speed manual gearbox. Its clean design with small bumpers makes it a highly sought after collectible today.
Like the Celica, the Supra is very popular with Toyota collectors. This video offers a look at some of the later generation models.
Originally called Celica Supra and later Supra, Toyota’s top sporty car was offered first as a stretched Celica, gaining a 6-cylinder engine, and finally a unique body style when the third generation was introduced for 1986. By the time the fourth generation made its debut for 1993, Supra had become a flagship sports car for Toyota.
An overview of Toyota sports cars isn’t complete without the MR2. This mid-engine marvel made its U.S. debut for 1985 as a competitor to the Pontiac Fiero. It gained a supercharger in 1988 and was completely revamped for 1991.
The Toyota Land Cruiser has become extremely popular with collectors. Our video includes several different body styles, including pickups.
The first Toyota model that met with lasting success in the U.S. was the Land Cruiser. Although it sold only one unit in 1958, this sturdy workhorse went on to build a reputation for ruggedness that continues to win new fans today.
While some folks keep their show-quality Land Cruisers in the garage, others take them out to play. Prices for Land Cruisers in primo condition continue to rise, so most enthusiasts would agree that now is a good time to find the Land Cruiser of your dreams.
This cherry 1990 Land Cruiser FJ75 originally served with the U.S. Marines. Today, owners Paul and Cheryl Williamsen use it to tote precious cargo like their cool 1971 Honda CB 100. With nearly two-ton capacity, an ultra rugged suspension, and commercial 16-inch wheels and tires, it could transport heavier bikes and gear with ease.
We spotted not one, but two recreations of Marty McFly’s dream truck from the movie “Back to The Future.” Check them out, along with other Toyota Trucks in our video.
With decades of production and countless variations produced, Toyota Trucks are sought after by collectors for their ruggedness and easy to personalize character.
This stunning 1970 Toyota Crown is the prize-winning work of Janet Fujimoto and Duane Tomono. Take a look at the amazing quality of the restoration in our video.
Designed by Janet and built by Duane, this Old School Crown Sedan was given the Pro-Touring treatment. They started with a body shell and custom-built and fabricated the car to updated design specs.
Under the hood is 2JZ-GE engine swap with custom-fabricated motor mounts, transmission mounts, and driveshaft. It comes to a stop with Brembo brakes and rides on custom-built QA-1 coilovers. The mirror-straight body is finished with gunmetal metallic paint.
While it looks a bit like a miniature 2000GT, the Sports 800 went on sale in 1965 before its larger sibling came to the market.
The Toyota Sports 800 celebrated its 50th birthday last year. The targa-roof sportster is powered by an air-cooled 2-cylinder horizontally opposed engine with dual carbs good for 45 horsepower.
It’s difficult to tell by looking yet the Sports 800 was based on Toyota’s Publica economy sedan. Never officially sold in the U.S. it could be considered the forerunner of the Scion FR-S (Toyota 86) by virtue of its front-mounted horizontally opposed engine.
Speaking of the Publica, this year’s Toyotafest included this very rare 1965 Publica Convertible.
According to the display, this Publica is lightly customized with a 1966 hood, fenders and grille as well as an 800cc dual carb engine instead of the original 700cc single carb unit. It was purchased in Japan by an American military officer and came to the U.S. in 1970.
Super-rare and rarely seen in America is the Toyota Century luxury sedan. We captured this 1974 V8 model on video.
Long before Lexus was created, Toyota sold a luxury sedan in Japan called the Century starting in 1967. Believe it or not, the Century is still in production looking a little more up-to-date than this while sporting Toyota’s only production 5.0-liter V12 engine. An even more luxurious Toyota Century Royal is in service for Japan’s Emperor Akihito.
This remarkably gorgeous modified 2016 Lexus RC F was on display at the Toyotafest. Our video takes a closer look at this new car along with earlier Lexus models restored by their owners.
Lexus fans enjoyed a strong turnout at Toyotafest. Lexus has attracted enthusiasts over the years with cars like the SC coupe, IS F and LFA exotic sports car. TORC and the Toyotafest show originally targeted “Old School” pre-1985 Toyota models – Lexus didn’t debut until 1989. Of course, car clubs and car shows change with the times.
This rare Toyota Stout is decked out as a work truck for nearby Cabe Toyota of Long Beach. A long-term supporter to Toyotafest, Cabe was one of many vendors and aftermarket companies exhibiting at the show.
CarNichiWa.com thanks TORC for providing us with Toyotafest media credentials.
Story, photos and videos Copyright © 2016 CarNichiWa.com