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  • M. Garcia

Toyota Fest: The Classics

Updated: Nov 6, 2019

There are the staples at every car gathering or event, the models you are going to see that have a faithful following and hopefully a high enough production number to view in high quantities. For Toyota the most common and revered are the Corollas and Starlets of yesteryear, coming in every configuration imaginable; these models served as daily drivers for some and coveted sports cars for others. What makes these old-school cars so special are not just the sum of their parts but the stories behind them, here are a few that grabbed the attention of those walking the isles of Japanese metal at Toyota Fest 2019.


The first and probably one of my favorite cars at the event (I love them all, honestly), is a very clean and well put together 1985 Toyota Corolla GTS with a full front and rear Kouki Trueno bumper conversion. A Corolla GTS is a special car, a DOHC 4-cylinder under the hood that sings to a high rpm, pop-up head lights, and the perfect retro appearance, but this one is more than just that. It's all in the details with this AE86, it's completely intact; the eye lids are in perfect condition and looked new, as did the OEM Trueno front bumper with the correct corner lights and badging. Following the sheet metal down the side covered in two-tone silver and black, you can see it sits on period correct Work Equip 03 wheels that fit perfectly in the wheel wells. Further around back are rear window louvers, Zenki JDM tail lights, and a JDM bumper that replaces the bulky U.S. spec piece. It is a perfect mixture of U.S. spec style with some JDM parts added, making this a unique ride with rare aspects.

Want to show your enthusiasm for your car, the Toyota in your driveway you've wanted forever? Try driving it all the way down from New York City to make it to Toyota Fest. That's exactly what the owner of this hatchback Toyota Corolla GTS did, driving a whopping 1,000 miles to show his work in progress; a fun vehicle he is slowly upgrading himself. However much has been done already, a 20 valve 4AGE sits in between the shock towers under the engine bay, sporting long trumpets to increase the range of sweet induction noise from the individual throttle bodies, it also has custom headers and a thicker aluminum Mishimoto radiator to help keep things cool. Other items in and around the sleek grey AE86 are fully adjustable coilovers, a strut bar, Zenki Trueno tail lights, and Watanabe rims to accompany the Initial D-spec cup holder on the vents. I'm looking forward to see what else the owner of this hachiroku does in order to elevate his vision, great job so far.

I have a soft spot for Toyota Corolla wagons, especially TE72/KE70 models, but more so I love when someone paints the canvas to their liking as did the owner of this vehicle below. Up front are 1980 headlights, dual lens that match the awesome double barrel exhaust out back. A USDM bumper in the front is accompanied by a lower lip that spruces up the front end, the rear bumper has been removed completely which has always been a popular modification. The cream paint that drapes the exterior has some retro decals to go with it in the classic yellow, orange, and red gradient popular on older Toyota vehicles. Other exterior touches include old school fender mirrors that were an option on many Japanese vehicles of that era, as were the metal window visors to help deflect rain, but the best exterior mod has to be the Atara Racing wheels on stretched tires, 14 inch wheels rarely look this good. Inside the cockpit things are kept simple and clean, a 3 spoke wheel with a "TEQ" horn button, a billiard ball shift knob, and Techno Toy Tuning door cards in black. Under the hood things and behind the Corolla emblem on the grill is a crowd favorite, the 3TC; this hemi styled 4 cylinder does one thing well...run.

If the prior TE72/KE70 Corolla was just a fun display of style, this particular green 4-door is a bit of that but with a more menacing approach and appearance. Square lights up front with no bumper and an air dam, a bare engine bay with a 3TC that sports a custom carburetor and headers on the other side. From afar something told me this sedan at the very least enjoys much of it's time sliding around a track, although the fender mirrors are stylish, looking inside the car proved part of my theory correct. The removal of many of the interior panels with the addition of racing seats and an array of gauges prove it's no-nonsense in its use. A set of dark bronze SPDLine Watanabe copies adds the finishing touch to this 1.8 Corolla.

Jonathan Renovales' Toyota Corolla GTS is one of the most complete and beautiful cars you will see up close and personal. Renovales comes from a Toyota family and knows how to put a car together without being outlandish, he goes a simple approach by just accenting the OEM handsome looks of his AE86. Their isn't too much to digest here, it all goes down smoothly, a lowered stance with Work Equip 40 wheels tucked underneath, an extended steering wheel hub and a Nardi 3-spoke are the only things that really pop out. The exterior is still covered in it's original paint, the decals on the door have been taken care of along with the rest of the car, this is what doing it right looks like.

I'm always a fan of high end car builds, but what about this KP61 Toyota Starlet? This is the anti-build, a car meant to be a time capsule of what yesteryear was, specifically the early 80s. The owner told me a story of how he moved to Florida and found this car and purchased it before he even had a place to park it, that's dedication. What he purchased was a relatively pristine Starlet, all original from the 4K engine under the hood to the steel wheels, and the beige vinyl interior. Other than a refresh of fluids and changing out brake pads, a light clear coat was applied to the body to protect the nearly 40 year old paint. The owner turned the ignition to on and the 4K sputtered to life, it idled perfectly, it pushed out a bit of fumes down it's stock exhaust piping; sometimes restoring a car to it's past glory is equally as satisfying as completing a large build.


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