Home Toyota’s retro specials – and the race cars that inspired them

Toyota’s retro specials – and the race cars that inspired them

These modified Toyota GT86 road cars pay tribute to race and rally stars of the past. And you can make them yourself

Toyota looks to its past

Toyota looks to its past © Toyota

Toyota is known for building reliable and steadfastly sensible cars such as the Prius and Yaris. However, it also has a rich racing history – something these special GT86 sports cars were designed to celebrate.

Fleet of retro-themed GT86s

Fleet of retro-themed GT86s © Toyota

Each of the GT86s wears a classic livery from Toyota’s past. We’ll look at the six race and rally cars referenced, then reveal how the GT86s were modified to suit (clue: it goes beyond just stickers).

Scissors at the ready

Scissors at the ready © Toyota

Before the real thing, however, here’s a GT86 everyone can own. This ‘Yatabe Speed Trial Toyota 2000GT’ model was built using a colour printer, scissors and glue. It’s available to download as a PDF from the Motoring Research website – along with the other five cars featured here.

Stuck down in lockdown

Stuck down in lockdown © Toyota

Toyota says assembling a flat-pack GT86 should be possible ‘within an hour’, so the full set could fill an entire afternoon of COVID-19 lockdown. You can share your finished designs with Toyota’s social media channels and see how others have fared.

Earning its stripes

Earning its stripes © Toyota

Back to actual cars, and first up is the most striking GT86 of the bunch. This tiger-striped example pays tribute to the Esso-sponsored Toyota Supra touring car.

Esso Ultron Tiger Toyota Supra

Esso Ultron Tiger Toyota Supra © Toyota

The Supra competed in the All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (JGTC) from 1995 to 2006, winning the overall title four times. After several years of Castrol sponsorship, the car wore Esso Ultron Tiger livery in 1999 and 2000.

Put a Tiger in your tank

Put a Tiger in your tank © Toyota

Unlike the other cars here, this GT86 was fully wrapped in orange vinyl before the additional graphics were applied. The positioning of the tiger stripes had to be adapted to suit the car’s shape.

Seventies style

Seventies style © Toyota

From track racer to rally replica, this GT86 is based on the Celica 1600GT that competed in the 1972 Daily Mirror RAC Rally.

Toyota Celica 1600GT

Toyota Celica 1600GT © Toyota

Swedish driver Ove Andersson took the Celica to a class win, ahead of its rival Datsun 240Z. His success led to Toyota setting up a proper works rally team.

Slide ruler

Slide ruler © Toyota

Like the rear-wheel-drive Celica, the modern GT86 isn’t averse to going sideways – despite the wider wheels and tyres fitted to these retro replicas.

Going Gran Turismo

Going Gran Turismo © Toyota

Anyone who has played Gran Turismo on the Playstation will recognise these iconic Castrol colours. This particular GT86 celebrates the Toyota Celica GT-Four WRC rally car.

Castrol Toyota Celica GT-Four

Castrol Toyota Celica GT-Four © Toyota

Seen here getting some air with Juha Kankkunen at the wheel, the Celica GT-Four won the World Rally Championship in 1993 and 1994. Its reign was ended by Colin McRae’s Subaru Impreza in 1995.

In search of stance

In search of stance © Toyota

Toyota fitted V-Maxx progressive lowering springs to its retro GT86s, in conjunction with the original dampers. These drop the cars 40mm closer to the road.

Need for speed

Need for speed © Toyota

You can’t miss this one. The bright yellow and green GT86 is inspired by the Toyota 2000GT that set three world speed and endurance records in 1966.

Yatabe Speed Trial Toyota 2000GT

Yatabe Speed Trial Toyota 2000GT © Toyota

The rare and exotic 2000GT averaged a remarkable 128.76mph over 72 hours at Japan’s Yatabe high-speed test circuit. It’s also rather beautiful, don’t you think?

It was all yellow

It was all yellow © Toyota

The alloy wheels for each GT86 were chosen to resemble the original racing rims as closely as possible. The Rota Retro 2 wheels seen here were specially sourced by Rare Rims before their official launch.

American dream

American dream © Toyota

Our penultimate GT86 also evokes a Toyota 2000GT – this time the Shelby-tuned SCCA (Sports Car Association of America) racer.

Shelby Toyota 2000GT

Shelby Toyota 2000GT © Toyota

In a bid to crack the American market, Toyota handed a 2000GT to Carroll Shelby – the man behind the Shelby Cobra. Lighter, lower and stiffer, the Shelby 2000GT finished the 1968 SCCA season in second and third places.

A clean pair of exhausts

A clean pair of exhausts © Toyota

Those fat tailpipes aren’t standard either. The cat-back exhaust system is made by Milltek Sport and offers more noise and fractionally more power.

Going for gold

Going for gold © Toyota

Last but not least, this go-faster-striped GT86 is based on the IMSA GTU Toyota Celica racing car of 1981.

IMSA GTU Toyota Celica

IMSA GTU Toyota Celica © Toyota

The wide and wild Celica competed in the GTU (less than 2.5 litres) class of the American IMSA championship. Its best result was second place overall in 1985.

Our favourite retro GT86

Our favourite retro GT86 © Toyota

Yep, this GT86 is our favourite. Nothing to do with its racing kudos; we’re just suckers for those gold wheels and oh-so-Seventies stripes.

Toyotas on tour

Toyotas on tour © Toyota

The liveried cars toured the UK, visiting shows such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed. They did a great job of promoting the oft-overlooked GT86.

A fitting tribute

A fitting tribute © Toyota

As a way to remind punters about your racing heritage, we think these retro replicas take some beating. Hopefully they will inspire other car manufacturers to follow suit. Bring on the Canon-branded Williams…


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