By Steve & Tamami Laser
Sixty years ago this fall, the first Toyotas arrived from Japan aboard a boat at the Port of Los Angeles. This year, Toyota’s headquarters in nearby Torrance will journey across land to its new home in Texas. Yet Southern California will remain a magnet for fans of Toyota, Lexus and Scion cars and trucks likely forever. We joined more than 5,000 folks on Saturday, May 6, at Marina Green Park in Long Beach for the 22nd annual Toyotafest car show.
Presented by TORC, the independent Toyota Owner’s and Restorer’s Club, the show has become so popular that it outgrew its former location next to the Queen Mary. The new venue offered space for about 500 entries this year allowing rows and rows of vehicles to be displayed, like the MR2s shown in our above photo.
Check out the gorgeous Corolla models at Toyotafest, including this bright red AE86 “Hachiroku” and variants called Sprinter, Levin and Trueno in our above video.
The Corolla celebrated its 50th birthday last year. With more than 44 million sold worldwide, it’s the best-selling car of all time. Certain Corolla models, like this 1985 GT-S Sport are highly prized by collectors. We spoke with owner Janet Fujimoto about her immaculate red liftback.
Based on a light rear-drive platform and powered by a 4A-GE 1.6L Twin Cam 16-valve 4-cylinder engine that puts out 119 bhp, Janet’s Hachiroku is equipped with a fun-to-dive 5-speed manual gearbox. An automatic transmission was also available.
Janet showed us the interior, which, like the rest of the car, looks new. The fifth generation Corolla, dubbed AE86, is affectionately called “Hachiroku” by fans signifying the numbers eight (hachi) and six (roku) in Japanese. Its spiritual successor is available at Toyota dealerships today as the 86 sports coupe (previously called Scion FR-S in America).
Corolla variants of every type imaginable were on display at this year’s show. This orange road rocket is an earlier Corolla “Levin” spinoff called the Sprinter Trueno. It’s a 1973 model that wasn’t originally offered in the states.
The 2TG engine underhood with twin side-draft carbs is so clean it looks like it was just built yesterday. Be sure to take a closer look at the attention to detail in our Corolla video at the top of this story.
What are you doing for the next 10 minutes? Pull up a chair and watch this video that we made of the amazing Celicas at Toyotafest. (Or maybe wait ’till later if you’re at work, driving a car, or operating heavy machinery.)
The Toyota Celica has been an object of desire since we were in high school…and the cars were new. Yet we’ve never seen a Celica quite like the green coupe below.
Borrowing a well-known phrase from the “Star Trek” show, the owner of this Celica answered the call for: “Engine room, we need more power!” Yet instead of installing a hot cam or big carbs, it has something we’ve never seen under the hood of a Celica…
A 5.7L CORVETTE V8 engine lives in the engine room of this mostly stock appearing first-generation Celica! We love cars like this “sleeper” and can only imagine the jaw-dropping looks it generates when pulling away from other cars at a stoplight. See our Celica video for a closer look at this car including the interior.
We started to make a video of our favorite Supra at the Toyotafest and then realized that we like all of them! Check out incredible Supras on display in our video.
Moving up the Toyota sporty car ladder we arrive in Supra territory. Toyota’s flagship sports car made a two-decade journey from the first long-nose Celica Supra models in the late 1970s to the sophisticated tall-wing turbos that unfortunately were discontinued in the late ’90s.
The incredibly detailed 7MGE 6-cylinder engine in this ’88 Supra caught our eye with its polished components and blue hoses, wires and connectors. The rest of the car was equally gorgeous.
Whether it’s sporting a tall or short rear wing, the last-generation Supra still looks contemporary today. We’re wondering if Toyota will bring back the Supra name for a new sports car that’s in the works?
Fans of Toyota’s mid-engine MR2 and Spyder brought out their finest to the Toyotafest. See our video above where we get up-close with some groovy MR2s.
There was a large turnout of MR2s at this year’s Toyotafest. When it comes to affordable mid-engine sports cars, the MR2 is tough to beat. And with three generations to select from, there’s something for everyone.
The last-generation MR2 Spyder was a packaging miracle with a mid-engine powertrain and fully retractable convertible top. It’s also easy to modify with bolt-on body panels. The blue car above is dressed with an incredibly good looking full body kit topped by a huge rear wing.
Long before the creation of Lexus, Toyota sold a luxury sedan in the U.S. called Cressida. Also known as the Mark II, we take a look at some of the models at this year’s Toyotafest in our video, including this cool “woody” wagon.
Talk about something we don’t often see, here’s a quick video of an amazing 1974 “Tom’s 16-valve Starlet,” a racing version of the subcompact car. Looking a bit like a shortened Corolla, the Starlet was briefly sold in the U.S. in the ’80s (although it didn’t look anything like this).
While the Corona was Toyota’s first successful car in the U.S. market, it’s becoming a rare sight on the road. We’re glad to see several Coronas at this year’s Toyotafest including this nicely modified sedan.
Switching gears to Scion, the Scion FR-S (now called Toyota 86) has taken the place of the Celica in Toyota’s lineup. Take a look at the fantastic modified Toyotafest cars in our video.
Scion is gone, yet its spirit lives on with owners who love their cars, including the FR-S, tC and xB. From box stock to radically modified, scores of Scion models turned out for this year’s Toyotafest.
Eye-catching graphics and wild paint schemes adorned many of the FR-S models at the show. A wide array of parts and accessories are available for these cars from Toyota dealers and aftermarket suppliers.
And like we already mentioned, the FR-S lives on as the Toyota 86. So does the iM, as the Corolla iM, and iA, as the Yaris iA. Unfortunately the tC and xB have been discontinued.
We were sad to see the popular Scion tC go, yet we’re happy that it retains a strong following among enthusiasts.Take a look at some of the modified tCs in our video.
Remember the tiny Scion iQ? This one sports a “Lexus” style grille, scissor doors and a remarkably cool interior. Kudos to the creators of this one-of-a-kind custom.
Thinking outside the box, we spotted a couple of highly modified Scion xBs at the show that have been transformed into pickups (see the video above). Radical custom xBs at the show have everything imaginable…including the kitchen sink!
The custom van craze of the 1970s didn’t really go away, it morphed into a smaller scale with the Scion xB. And although Scion and this model may be gone from the showroom, the love of the xB continues to run strong.
To honor the 60th anniversary of the Land Cruiser in America, the Toyota USA Automobile Museum brought several restored examples from its collection. Here’s a video look at a bright red 1965 Land Cruiser pickup.
This mighty six-wheeled Land Cruiser “Troopy 6×6” conversion was on display from the Specter Off-Road company. To help it move out in style, there’s a V8 engine under the hood.
Another model from the Toyota USA Museum is this gorgeous 1964 Land Cruiser JF45 4-Door Wagon. It’s powered by an in-line Model F 6-cylinder engine teamed with a 3-speed synchromesh gearbox.
This beautifully restored Land Cruiser was renovated in 2005 by Spector Off-Road and Gasser’s Garage. It remains incredibly clean, museum-quality inside, outside and underneath.
We had the chance to make a video of this super-rare 1961 Land Cruiser in the daylight. It’s usually kept indoors at the Toyota USA Museum in Torrance.
This Land Cruiser is built for business lacking frills that modern trucks have today, such as carpet…and doors.
Another Land Cruiser from the Toyota Museum, this 1979 model is said to be an original with only 3,000 miles on the odometer! It sports some modern conveniences that found their way into late ’70s Cruisers…including power steering and power brakes.
Land Cruiser fans brought a variety of models to help celebrate the model’s anniversary. The red pickup on the left (above) has a V8 engine under the hood.
Here’s a quick video of other Land Cruisers on display at this year’s Toyotafest. Land Cruiser is the only nameplate that’s been in continuous production since Toyota came to America way back in 1957.
“McFly, your dream truck is here!” Yes, it’s another Custom 4×4 from “Statler Toyota.” In other words, it’s a replica of Marty McFly’s object of desire from the movie “Back to the Future.” Check it out, along with other Toyota Trucks, in our video.
This radically modified Toyota truck is like a rolling work of art. The attention to detail is simply amazing and a sight to behold.
The transformation from mild to wild continues inside the cabin where huge subwoofers sprout from the center console. This truck commands attention wherever it goes, even with the sound system switched off.
“Get down and boogie” takes on a new meaning with this ultra-cool 4Runner that hugged the lawn at Marina Green Park. Check it out along with other ‘Runners in our video above.
At the other end of the 4Runner spectrum, we spotted this high-riding model. While midsize body-on-frame SUVs are disappearing today, Toyota continues to offer the 4Runner in its showrooms (although you won’t find one quite like this).
We tried to keep the camera steady as we made a quick walkaround video of the all-new 2018 Lexus LC 500. This flagship performance coupe is ready to go on sale at Lexus dealers this month.
Lexus set our hearts and minds racing with its company display at the Toyotafest this year. The production version of the new 2018 LC has finally arrived. The LC 500, powered by a 5.0 liter V8, transfers 471 horsepower and 398 lb.-ft. of torque to the rear wheels via a new 10-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission.
A second model, the LC 500h (not at the show), employs a new Lexus Multi-Stage Hybrid System and 3.5-liter Atkinson Cycle V6 engine for a combined output of 354 horses while the lightweight 84-cell lithium-ion battery pack produces 310.8 volts. Lexus says the LC 500h is the automaker’s first hybrid that can “spin its rear wheels.”
Also on display is the Lexus RC 350 F “Real-Time Build Car” that was previously customized “live” on Facebook in just 10 hours. Fans were invited to vote their preferences for things like the exhaust, body color (yellow fluorescent won), intake, seats, wheels, styling mods, ride height and final touches including lug nuts.
While it’s a bit tough to visualize in our photo, this big Lexus logo is made up of “Sriracha” hot sauce bottles. To celebrate the launch of the 2017 IS sedan, Lexus commissioned a spicier version called the “Sriracha IS.”
Partnering with Huy Fong Food’s signature sauce and a custom-car builder, this IS 350 AWD is painted custom Sriracha Red and adorned with green accents (like the hot sauce bottle). It also features special badges, handcrafted seats with the Huy Fong rooster logo, and carries 43 bottles of Sriracha in the trunk for “emergency condiment conditions.”
Our video captures some of the privately owned Lexus IS models at the Toyotafest along with a look at Lexus’ own Sriracha IS.
Why is our video titled “Lexus IS | Toyota Altezza?” Because some of the cars entered in the show were trimmed out as Altezzas, the original nameplate for the car when it was sold in Japan. Lexus launched in America in 1989, yet it didn’t debut as a brand in Japan until 2005. Thus Toyota in Japan offered the Altezza (IS), Celsior (LS), Soarer (SC), Harrier (similar to the RX) and others.
It’s fun to see the previously conservative styled Lexus LS decked out with a full custom treatment. Take a walk on the wild side in our LS video above.
This current generation LS looks mighty fine with mods including color-shifting paint, huge wheels, hydraulic suspension, blacked-out trim and more. We also like the big fender flares and front fender vents.
This detailed turbocharged engine compartment can be found in a highly modified Lexus SC coupe. Our video shows more first-generation SCs at Toyotafest.
We remember the launch of the Lexus SC like it was yesterday (yet it was 25 years ago!). The first generation cars still look great today and have become popular to customize. Some of the cars at the show wore Lexus badges while others had the flying horse logo of the Japanese market Toyota Soarer.
It’s not a Lexus…but it could have been. This rarely seen in the U.S. Japanese market Toyota Soarer was also on display at the show. It’s interesting to compare the sharp-edged styling to the rounded look of the first-generation Lexus SC.
Remember car-based pickups like the Chevrolet El Camino and Subaru Baja? This rare Avalon pickup nicknamed “Avatruck” is a custom-built vision of what a Toyota car-truck might look like. The first generation Avalon’s boxy styling makes it a good choice as a donor car.
We wrap up our story with a vision of the future. A local Toyota dealer displayed one of the first retail models of the all-new 2018 CH-R that we’ve seen in the U.S. We’re sure to see more of the dynamic new compact crossover on the road and at next year’s Toyotafest.
Want more blasts from the past? The following links will take you to our previous CarNichiWa.com Toyotafest stories and videos from the 2016 and 2015 shows:
CarNichiWa.com thanks TORC for providing us with Toyotafest media credentials.
Story, photos and videos Copyright © 2017 CarNichiWa.com