Classic Toyota vehicles have recently earned the respect of collectors throughout the world, from high dollar 2000GT's to any Supra you can get your hands on; the proof is in the pudding as the buying market age changes so do their desires. For those with expendable income, a vintage vehicle from the 70's, 80's, and even the 90's can be a worthwhile venture as the prices climb on certain vehicles. This leaves a segment of cars that have not reached peak desirability or need more work than the average enthusiast is willing to put in. Some cars are driven to the ground, while others suffer exterior damage, and the worst are those that sit for decades without being driven.
For those who are willing to invest time sourcing parts, money in maintenance, and have the creativity to breathe new life in to an old chassis, a rewarding experience is saddled in with the pride in knowing that your car is "built, not bought." When digesting the visuals of all the different cars at Gerpan, I noticed some that would probably be considered rough around the edges or not appropriate for a concours d' elegance; but these cars showed dedication. Gerpan is a celebration of motor vehicles with both German and Japanese origin so while some cars did not have pristine original paint, or were halfway to where they want to be in an ongoing build, it is the passion by the owners that really shines through.
Being an enthusiast of retro Toyotas means that you have to sometimes dig deep to find survivors in various states of decomposition, rust is a major enemy for old Japanese metal and it is not uncommon to see mismatched colored body panels or primer covering up a repair. Sometimes the engines on these cars are not running, sometimes they aren't even in the engine bay, and this goes for many other parts that may need to be replaced in order to reach road-worthiness. With so many different variables in finding a car needing rescue you must ask yourself, do you modify or do you restore? Both avenues reap benefits but the decision is ultimately yours to make as both options require ample resources.
Let me clarify, I don't fully know the stories of the AW11 MR2 nor that of the RA28 Celica pictured in this story, and less do I want to demean these cars as lesser than any other vehicle, in fact I admire the work done that has allowed both vehicles to be enjoyed on the road. In my own personal garage I have my very own never-ending project which will be featured in another article as I slowly make progress; it takes real patience and know how to adjust your mentality when working on cars of yesteryear and perhaps more so when you modify a car to be better than what it was. The spirit of the enthusiast is alive and well, these two cars are an example of that, one modded and the other seemingly in the process of being restored.
While a fully finished car is everyone's goal, having a vehicle that is of an era bygone that still operates and brings smiles to faces is commendable. We have all been there, wishing we had more, more from our vehicles, more from our current build state, automobiles on their way there are a reminded that we all have much more to do and that not everything starts with a perfect Youtube video introduction. Blood, sweat, tears, and plenty of pennies await those who want to save old Toyota vehicles and invigorate them by means of fresh maintenance parts and drivetrain swaps, but the reward is generous in return. So while you drive down the road and see an old Toyota still plugging away, notice not only the efforts made by the original engineers to design a product that lasts, but notice the efforts of the owner who has pledged their faith in a machine from yesterday, thank you.