10 Things Only Real Enthusiasts Know About Toyota Sports Cars


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Jun 30, 2023

10 Things Only Real Enthusiasts Know About Toyota Sports Cars

From lightweight classics to JDM legends, here's how some of Toyota's most iconic sports cars have evolved over the years Welcome to the thrilling world of Toyota sports cars, where adrenaline,

From lightweight classics to JDM legends, here's how some of Toyota's most iconic sports cars have evolved over the years

Welcome to the thrilling world of Toyota sports cars, where adrenaline, precision engineering, and sheer driving pleasure unite. While many automotive enthusiasts are familiar with Toyota's reputation for reliability and practicality, there exists a fascinating realm of hidden gems that only real aficionados truly appreciate. In this article, we delve into the captivating secrets and lesser-known facts surrounding Toyota's high-performance machines, elevating your knowledge beyond the surface.

From the iconic Supra's legacy that stretches back to the late '70s to the nimble and agile GT86 that redefined affordable sports cars, Toyota has left an indelible mark on the industry. We'll explore the cutting-edge technology powering these speed demons, the subtle design elements that make each model distinct, and the racing heritage that has shaped their evolution. So buckle up, as we take you on an exhilarating ride through the exclusive realm of Toyota sports cars, unlocking the mysteries that ignite the passion of real enthusiasts.

RELATED: The Best Toyota Sports Cars Ever Made

The Sports 800, also known as the Yota-Hachi," was Toyota’s very first sports car, and it laid the foundation for all the Toyota sports cars that came after it. Initially, the prototype for the car was showcased under the Publica Sports nameplate at the 1962 Tokyo Auto Show. The concept car featured a sleek, futuristic design and a unique sliding canopy.

It made its debut in 1965, and by that point, Toyota had realized the car’s potential and decided to sell it under its own name, so instead of the Publica Sports, it was called the Toyota 800.

Despite the final release model not featuring a sliding canopy, it still retained its futuristic and aerodynamic style designed by Shozo Sato. The model also featured a 44-horsepower, two-cylinder, 800-cc engine, which was larger than the one showcased powering the concept. Now, 44 horsepower doesn’t sound like a lot, but considering that car’s incredibly light 1,279-pound body, it was adequate.

At the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965, Toyota showcased a limited edition rear-wheel drive mid-engined grand tourer. Built in collaboration with Yamaha, the car was called the 2000gt and it was widely regarded as one of the best-looking cars of its era.

Before its release, Toyota was mostly seen as a manufacturer of small economic cars but the 2000GT proved that to not be true, it proved that Toyota was well capable of producing sports cars that went toe-to-toe with its European rivals. As a result of this, The 2000GT featured in the 1967 James Bond film "You Only Live Twice", marking Toyota's first appearance in a Bond film.

You may not believe it but there was once a time when the Toyota Supra and Celica were names of the same car. The first generation Celica Supra went on sale in Japan in 1978 and it was offered with either a 2.0-liter or 2.6-liter inline-six engine. When it was out, the models sold quite well with 115,000 units sold within four years. The Celica Supra also served as the company's halo car at the time.

RELATED: History Of Toyota's Iconic Sports Cars: The MR2, Supra, And Celica

With the MR2, Toyota had one aim: to produce a car that's fun to drive yet economical, a car for the sensible gearhead. To achieve this, they equipped the car with a rear-wheel drive mid-engined layout for a sports car feel. It achieved the economic part by having a lightweight body and a range of engine options such as 1.5-liter, 1.6-liter, and 2.0-liter.

The MR2 was a big hit with the public, notably winning Car of the Year in Japan upon its release in 1984. And because of its immediate success, Toyota sold a high number of MR2s, making it Japan's first mass-produced mid-engine car.

At face value, most people won't really give the AE86 a second look. After all, it is just an 80s 1.6-liter Toyota Corolla. It doesn't have a particularly big engine, it isn't fast, and it isn't particularly stylish looking either. But if you take a look at its past, you'll quickly realize that the 86 was a lot more than just a Corolla.

The 86 was popularised by two things: Keiichi Tsuchiya’s drift antics and an anime called Initial D. Taking a look at the first one, Keiichi Tsuchiya started off his fast pace driving life in the world of illegal street racing. Now, Keiichi wasn't a wealthy man so his vehicle of choice was a humble Toyota Corolla AE86. But what he lacked in power, he made up for with skill, often defeating racers with cars faster and more expensive than his own.

At some point winning races became pretty easy for him; in fact, it became so easy that after overtaking his opponents, Keiichi would start sliding his car around the corners to entertain the crowd. Now you might not think that there is anything too special about this. But while intentionally sliding his AE86 around the corners for entertainment, Keiichi had invented the art of drifting and was now known as the legendary "Drift King".

Later on, an anime-inspired by Keiichi’s life was also developed called Initial D, which featured a story quite similar to his. Since its release, Initial D has been credited by car enthusiasts around the world as an inspiration for their love for all things cars.

Usually upon hearing the name Supra people immediately picture the mrk4 or now nowadays maybe even the mrk5, but most people forget where it all started. The true Supra lineup started with the third generation A70 Supra 2.0GT, the first model that was sold solely under the Supra name instead of the Celica Supra. It featured an all-new design based on Toyota's "T" platform, the same one used for the Corona. This generation of the model also came equipped with the 1JZ-GTE inline-six engine, the predecessor to the iconic 2JZ-GTE found on the mrk4.

RELATED: 10 Reasons Why The Mk4 Toyota Supra Is A Tuners Wet Dream

The Supra is a series of grand tourer sports cars made by Toyota, with the fourth-generation model being the most popular. The Supra MRK4, also known as the A80, came out in 1992, and to this day it remains one of the most desirable JDMs cars of its era.

The secret to its success lies underneath its hood in the form of an engine, a 3.0-liter 2JZ-GTE twin-turbo, to be specific. Originally, the engine only produced a pretty standard 280 horsepower, but unlike other engines, the 2JZ could be tuned to produce upwards of 900 horsepower with little to no modifications.

This meant that Toyota had intentionally left some unsqueezed juice in the engine in order to comply with a gentleman's agreement between Japanese manufacturers at the time. The agreement stated that all manufacturers would limit their road car power outputs to less than 300 horsepower. This was done in order to combat the ever-increasing prevalence of street racing at the time.

Another aspect of Toyota's history that most people probably don't know about is their time in the F1 championship. Their F1 team was called Panasonic Toyota Racing and it originated from Toyota's Motorsport GmbH division, a division that also spearheaded their involvement in the WRC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But despite having an experienced team and an exceptionally large budget, Toyota could never win a grand prix; in fact, the closest they ever came was second place.

In 2012, Toyota debuted the GT86 as a successor to the original AE86. Like the original, the GT86 featured a front-engine rear-wheel drive layout, a light body, and a modestly powered engine. However, a lot like the fifth generation Supra, the GT86 wasn't really all built by Toyota.

The model was built in collaboration with Subaru with most of its parts being borrowed from the company, including its boxer engine. But despite this, the GT86 is still a worthy successor to the original due to its nimble handling, 50/50 weight balance, and relatively affordable price.

RELATED: 10 Best Toyota Sports Cars For First-Time Buyers

When Toyota announced the fifth generation Supra, fans of the model were ecstatic. But upon its release, some things became quite evident. This new supra was built in collaboration with BMW and was based on the Z4.

Fans were saddened to find out that the car was less of a Supra and more of a Z4 reskin featuring many of the same parts, including the engine, interior parts, suspension, and transmission. Now, this doesn't mean that it isn't any good; it is definitely a good car, but it's a good car in exactly the same way the Z4 is a good car. And the world already had a Z4. What people wanted was a Supra.

Mustafa has been interested in cars for as long as he can remember. He's gone from collecting Hotwheel cars as a kid to, well..... let's face it, driving a regular Toyota Corolla today because it's comfortable, practical, and easy. But he hopes to one day have a collection of vastly impractical cars that will bring a smile to his face every time he drives them.