1986-1991 Toyota Soarer Z20

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The Ford Thunderbird will go down in history as the car that created an entire market segment: the personal luxury coupe. Since that time, many other auto makers have produced their own version of the Thunderbird. Over time, the segment came to be defined by a few characteristics: an emphasis on luxury and the latest technology, powerful engines with comfortable suspensions, and of course, a 2-door, 4-passenger seating arrangement.

Although the American economy went through a recession in the early 1980s, things  turned around and the demand for personal luxury coupes was on the rise by the later end of the decade. General Motors had the Buick Riviera, Ford had the Lincoln Mark VII, and Chrysler had resurrected the Imperial name for their 1981-1983 coupe. The United States wouldn’t see the Lexus SC400 until 1991, but this car was its Japanese predecessor: the Toyota Soarer Z20.

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78-83 Toyota Hilux Extended Cab Long Wheelbase Dually Truck

I spotted this thing stuck in rush hour traffic as I cruised on past in the HOV lane.  I can’t find much about it, it may have even been imported from Mexico?  It does have Arizona plates on it so who knows.  There probably aren’t too many like this out there so go ahead and soak it in. Continue reading

1974 Toyota Corona 2000GT Hardtop Coupe

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.

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1977 Toyota Corolla SR5 Sport Coupe

If there is one thing I have learned from watching Antiques Roadshow, it is that you should never try to clean any object that might be old and valuable. In doing so, you may destroy much of the item’s value. The same rule applies to antique guns, guitars, and more recently, automobiles.

Not too long ago, people restored old cars to a factory-new finish in order to make them valuable. Now, the emphasis is shifting towards leaving the car “as-is” and showing its age. People really dig the “patina” look but personally, I never really understood why.

Then I saw this ’77 Corolla, and I think I am starting to understand.

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1984 Toyota Celica GT Rally Car

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.

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1967 Toyota 2000GT: The Japanese ‘E-Type’

One of the cars that caught my eye at the Arizona Concours d’Elegance was this gleaming white coupe. It had the classic long hood and short decklid look of a European car, like a Jaguar E-type. The car also had a large diameter wooden steering wheel like a sixties-era Ferrari. However, the car I was looking at was neither British nor Italian – it was a Toyota from Japan!

The 2000GT is a very rare car, with only 337 ever built. This one is particularly rare, because it is one of just 62 left-hand drive models made for the U.S. market. This car is significant because it’s the car that made people sit up and pay attention to Toyota as an automobile manufacturer.

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Automotive Tech Takes the Stage at CES 2014

Every year in January, the world’s consumer electronics companies congregat in Las Vegas at the International CES Show to show off their latest and greatest products. Everything from digital cameras and tablet computers to washing machines and televisions are on display.

In past years, car manufacturers occupied a small part of the show to demonstrate the latest in-vehicle technologies. For 2014, automotive companies reserved 140,000 square feet of floor space for their booths – a 20% increase compared to 2013!

Here are some of the top automotive headlines from CES 2014:

Audi Introduces Self-Driving Car

Audi was at CES 2014 demonstrating a self-driving car, which uses a combination of RADAR, LASER, and imaging technologies to be aware of its surroundings. Last year, the car’s entire hatch was filled with computers to process this information. This year, it’s been shrunk down to a computer in the trunk no bigger than an iPad. Audi calls their new technology “piloted driving,” and it looked very close to production-ready on this A7 sedan.

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