While wandering around at Cars and Coffee a few weeks ago, I spotted an odd-looking car with its rear view mirrors attached to the front fenders. “Oh yikes, this thing probably belongs to some weeaboo guy who gets a raging boner from reading his collection of Initial D mangas” I thought to myself. But as I got closer, I could see that this car was not some wanna-be drift machine covered in JDM stickers. No, this car is the real deal.
I’ll admit that when it comes to vintage Japanese automobiles, I know next to nothing about them. However, I know just enough to recognize that this right-hand drive Toyota Corona 2000GT is a very unique automobile here in the USA. Having spent a couple of hours researching mid-1970s Toyotas, I can now proceed to share with you some information about this car.
The market for collector cars is a fickle thing. Often times, the cars that end up being valuable are not the ones you would expect. What ends up being collectible are the cars which had limited production, special options, or were such commercial failures that they were discontinued quickly – only to become a cult classic down the road.
The Yugo, the Corvair, the Pinto, and the DeLorean have all played the role of the ‘black sheep’ of the automotive industry at one time or another. Due to reliability, safety, or other issues, these cars basically flopped when they hit the market. Dealers had trouble moving them, and they were not produced in large numbers.
But now the tables have turned! With so few of these cars surviving, values have started to increase for these cars that nobody wanted when they were brand new. Well, here’s another example of a car with that same fate: The Subaru 360 Sambar microvan.
What if I told you that there was a supercar from the 1980s that cost less than the Lamborghini Countach and the Ferrari Testarossa and could outrun them both on a race track? And what if I told you that this car could also yield 30 miles per gallon? You would probably think I was crazy.
Well, such a car does exist and in theory, it sounds fantastic. However, there is just one drawback to the Mosler Consulier GTP…the way it looks.
In an earlier post about the Lotus Cortina I explained the idea of homologation – whereby manufacturers must build and sell a minimum number of cars to the public in order to qualify as a “production car.” Here we have another example of a factory-built race car that was sold to the public, and this one is even more extreme.
It’s called the Renault 5 Turbo II and like many of the cars I have covered recently, this is another rare specimen from Cars and Coffee. So what’s the deal with this car, and how did it come to be?
As one of the most iconic cars in history, the Volkswagen Beetle and its air-cooled engine are revered around the world for its utter simplicity. These cars are small, efficient, and easy to work on. But when it comes to power and acceleration, they are severely lacking.
This enterprising car owner took it upon himself to do something about it. What he’s done is removed the original flat-four engine in the back of the car and replaced it with a big American V8 in the front! From my eye, it looks to be a small block Chevy motor – probably a 305 or 350.
The 1970s through 1990s were a heydey of kit car manufacturing in the United States. It seemed like everybody and their brother was offering turn-key vehicles based on Chevrolet platforms. Looking back, I have to wonder if there was really enough demand in the market to support all of these companies?
The answer of course, is no. Save for a few, nearly all of the kit car manufacturers have gone out of business. Some companies such as Zimmer have survived (in one form or another) for decades, while others were just a blip on the radar. Such was the case with Archer Coachworks out of Valparaiso, Indiana.
They’re all British car companies, but more importanly, they all have factory-sponsored racing teams. For decades, these companies have battled it out on the racetrack in everything from Formula 1 racing to grand touring to group racing.
What these companies would typically do is take one of their production cars and modify it to compete in a specific class of racing. There is one catch, though. Auto manufacturers are required to build a minimum number of vehicles and sell them to the public in order to classify as a production car. This practice, known as homologation, means that a small number of factory-built race cars will make it out into the real world – completely road legal. This is exactly what happened in the 1960s with the Lotus Cortina.
There is a car show held once a month in Scottsdale where people gather to drink coffee and show off their high-end exotic cars. I skipped right past the rows of Ferraris and Porsches to go check out this 1984 Toyota Celica GT (yes, seriously).
I took one look at the car and could tell right away that something special was going on here. For one thing, it’s a lifted car! Aside from an AMC Eagle or a Subaru rally car, you don’t often see cars with this much ground clearance! I snapped some photos and looked around for the owner who was nowhere to be found.