Unless you’re an automotive journalist, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised to hear that most car manufacturers across the globe keep a fleet of pristine, absurdly-low-mileage examples of their back-catalogue tucked away in case they’re ever needed for the likes of press events and comparison reviews.
And while you might’ve stumbled upon one or two of these gems yourself at car shows or other events, it’s very unlikely you’ll ever get to see a firm’s entire array of heritage vehicles in one place. Unless you’re invited down to one of their secret lock-ups, that is, like we were lucky enough to be by Toyota GB just last week.
Stepping into the clinically-clean warehouse and immediately catching sight of some of Toyota and Lexus’ greatest hits amongst the sea of time warp-perfect metal that greeted us, we knew the next couple of hours was going to be a huge dose of nostalgic awe. And while there’s no way we could fit every model into this article, we’ve shared what we think are eight of the best…
’08 Toyota Aygo Crazy
We bet our last Rolo you’d forgotten about this little monster, right?! Built just under a decade ago all the way back in 2008, this one-off weapon sported so much more than just a lairy body kit; with a boosted version of the 1.8-litre 1ZZ from the MR2 found wedged where the back seats used to be, offering up 197bhp.
Reviews were patchy from those who got behind the wheel at the time, with many saying it was a bit of a handful to control. But you’ve got to give Toyota 10 points for coming up with such a cool name.
MR2 – Through the Ages
Talking of MR2s, Toyota’s heritage fleet now finally contains a pristine example of all three generations of the sporty two-seater thanks to the acquisition of a stunning Mk2 example earlier this year.
You might have noticed all the models are red, too – is it just us that thinks they’re screaming out for a group photo shoot…?
’66 Toyota Corona
It seems so strange here in 2017 to think that before this very car hit British shores back in the mid-Sixties, our country had never had a vehicle from this global car giant grace its roads.
Imported over by dealer Pride and Clark (the company that evolved into Toyota GB as we know it today), this was actually Japan’s third generation of the long-lived model, but is crucially significant in the automotive world as being one of the key cars which helped put Japan on the global automotive map by gaining acceptance from the West.
’15 Castrol-Liveried Toyota GT86
One of six GT86s which Toyota created two years ago in a range of its old racing liveries, this beauty caught our eye as soon as we stepped foot into the firm’s lock-up.
If you’ve ever played Sega Rally or any other classic racing games from the era, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the iconic Castrol livery which saw its most success on the ST205 Celica GT-Four in WRC events during the middle-part of this decade.
With impressive attention-to-detail, the livery is back on this RWD coupé, which also benefits from 18” Rota Grid alloys, 40mm V-Maxx lowering springs, a Milltek exhaust system and those massive TRD big brakes.
’02 Toyota Prius Rally Car
Hybrid cars may have only reached the attention of the mainstream car buyer in the last few years, but Toyota’s history with electrified power plants goes back a lot longer than that. Can you believe it was entering one of its hybrid production cars into a 5000-mile rally over 15 years ago, for example?
Entering the gruelling, three-week Midnight Sun to Red Sea rally event of 2002, which saw the little saloon drive from northern Sweden all the way to Jordan via many remote parts of Eastern Europe, the car secured an impressive 15th place overall, securing the title of the first ever hybrid car to finish an official, FIA-sanctioned event.
’86 AE86 Toyota Corolla GT Coupé
Now representing one of the brand’s most sought-after historic models, this Levin-shaped example of the timeless Corolla GT range from the Eighties is hot property in the Japanese car world right now.
Its flyweight RWD setup, along with its legendary 4A-GE 1.6-litre normally aspirated motor up front, made it a truly raw, exciting driving experience – not just on the road but also with rally drivers and drifters alike.
’11 Lexus IS F
When was the last time you saw one of these on the road? With its subtle, muscular body and restrained V8 burble, the IS F made a terrifically strong case against its more established German counterparts when it arrived on the scene in 2008.
The first car from the firm to wear the now-celebrated ‘F’ badge, the super saloon boasted a tonne of futuristic gear that other brands are only just catching up on, such as an eight-speed, quick-changing, semi-automatic gearbox.
’11 Lexus LFA
But we’ve clearly saved the best ‘til last. You could count the amount of the 500 LFA hypercars that officially made their way over to the UK on just one hand, and here’s one of them!
Tucked away in its special parking spot in the safest corner of the warehouse and finished in that dreamy Pearl Blue hue, Toyota’s very own example of this piece of history reminds us just why this car has gained such a cult following since its unveiling back in 2010.
What more needs to be said? From that screaming, 4.8-litre V10 howler of an engine through to its hand-built chassis and bodywork, this thing truly is a work of art.