Toyota Manufacturer Profile & Rally History

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Toyota Home Country: Japan Japan

Toyota is easily the most successful of the Japanese manufacturers, although their involvement started in typical Japanese style. Toyoda (note the “d”) was a family business weaver loom producer, founded by Kiichiro Toyoda. There are 2 explanations circulating why the brand name was slightly changed from the founder family name: To identify car manufacturer from other Toyoda businesses, but also it is easier on the non-Japanese tongue. (Americans will still call it Doyoda, regardless how you spell it – sorry, couldn’t resist.) While both makes sense, latter was hardly the case when the company's first small, only nationally sold cars were actually branded Toyopet. Today cars is clearly the main business for the "group", so much that the original Toyoda name is forgotten. But even the original weaver loom business developed towards tooling. Today Toyota (Toyoda) is the only car manufacturer alongside Peugeot (PSA-Faurecia) to produce car factory production lines and equipment for themselves as well as for other car manufacturers.

It was only in 1935 that they started producing cars, when friendly Japan locked their market for imports to push their own industry. A 1970 Monte Carlo start for Vic Elford and Jan Hettema in Japanese registered Corona GSS models aside, only in 1972 Ove Andersson persuaded Toyota into rallying. Ove Andersson was one of the leading drivers at the time and he had many successes with Peugeot’s 504 and the Renault Alpine A110. When Ove started looking into his own "after retirement" business prospects, Peugeot and Renault were well settled and Ove tried preparing Toyotas, which he drove himself as well, at first alongside his friend Jean-Luc Thérier from his Renault days.

Ove Andersson may have persuaded Toyota into rallying, but the discussions between him and Japan as to which model should be used were a never ending story. Ove wanted the more compact Corolla model while Japan insisted on using the more sporty Celica. Indeed, the first car Ove Andersson prepared with works backing was a Toyota Celica, but the first winner he produced was a Corolla in 1975. For Ove Andersson 1975 was one of his finest personal years anyway, he won the Safari Rally driving for Peugeot again, but it was about the same time his own business and Toyota’s involvement turned into a grown up scale. Ove prepared the cars in Sweden, while they were registered in Belgium (Bruxelles), where Toyota Europe was based. Only when in 1979 Toyota Europe moved to Köln, Ove Andersson moved there as well. This new preparation business based in Köln, Germany, was named TTE = Toyota Team Europe and to get some decent power out of the Celica’s 2.0 engine he called German BMW tuner Schnitzer on the plan, yet the Celica failed to win a WRC event until 1982. The group B Celica TCT one year later however turned into a big success story. It didn’t have 4x4 as Ove wanted. But it had one up on cars like the Nissan Silvia 240RS or the Opel Ascona 400 as only the Toyota Celica TCT had a turbo engine in this comparison. So it seemed obvious to compete against these cars in Africa and indeed the Celica TCT won 6 African events.

The big break for Toyota came with the introduction of group A rallying. When group A was introduced as the top category only Lancia had a perfect car. Toyota was the first make to come out with a car of according spec to challenge the Lancia. This was 1 ½ years after the introduction of group A as the top category, and it seemed very tough indeed for Toyota to catch up with Lancia. But by 1990 the group A Toyota was competitive and indeed turned Carlos Sainz into a super star. Over the following years there were 3 different models of group A Celicas and in that time period Toyota collected 2 makes WRC titles. But when they looked on course for their 3rd title in a row, in 1995, Toyota was involved in one of the biggest scandals the WRC has ever seen: The scrutineers found a device that would bypass the turbo air restrictor, such giving Toyota a big advantage over its opposition. Worse even, it was proven that the part was purpose designed and in use since a while. Toyota was disqualified from that year’s WRC and banned from taking part in WRC rallies the following year.

When in 1997 the WRCar rules were introduced, Ove Andersson at long last got the chance to turn his attention back to his preferred Corolla model. By Finland 1997 the Corolla WRC debuted, a Corolla using the 2.0 turbo engine and 4 wheel drive from the Celica, while the biggest Corolla road car had a 1.6 engine and FWD. Ford and Subaru already had WRCars at the time, but it was the Corolla that was the first real WRCar built to the intended spirit of the rules. And it was a hugely competitive car, it gave Toyota another makes title in 1999. Unfortunately Toyota decided to quit rallying after that season to turn their attention to F1. A big shame as privateer successes in 2000 and 2001 proved that the Corolla was long not over its peak, while to the day the Toyota F1 team has the reputation to be rich with useless engineering.

COLOURS & TYRES:

Toyota seems to be the most distinctive and easily identified of the lot. The first 2 or 3 cars for Ove Andersson were road car look-a-like full red or mustard painted. These 2-3 cars aside, throughout their history, on their well over 1000 following cars, Toyota always used white with red and even their Castrol sponsorship between 1993 and 1999 did not really interfere with Toyota’s brand identity. Several teams had at times a scheme where drivers could be identified on colouring details, but in 1998 Toyota did something nobody else has ever done: Identifying events! In 1998 on every event the colour scheme looked different, incorporating something identifying the event location on the side of the car, always in red & green to not interfere with Toyota & Castrol identity. This could be dices for Monte (Casino), zebra stripes for Safari, kiwis for NZ, trees for Finland, kangoroos for Australia and cheekily umbrellas for GB.

Toyota mostly used Pirelli tyres but changed to Michelin in 1993 and stayed with them.

REGISTRATIONS:

Although all was initiated by Ove Andersson himself, his very early cars showed works connection through Japanese plates. But most of the time when Toyota rally cars were prepared by Ove Andersson in Sweden, they were registered on Toyota's European head quarters in Bruxelles, Belgium. In this time period they carried typical Belgian reg plates - and NOT Swedish ones, even though they would look very similar. See also our general registration guide. In 1979 Toyota Europe moved their head quarter from Bruxelles to Köln in Germany. At the same time Ove Andersson moved his business to Köln, right onto the yards of Toyota Europe. Therefore from 1979 works Toyotas would carry German Köln plates, which means they are plates with a "K" before the dash. After the dash is a combination of 2 letters and up to 4-digit numbers. The 2 letters were usually "AM", which stands for "Andersson Motorsport". However these are no private plates as Andersson Motorsport only got his "AM" plates when available, which actually made me discover two funny incidents: One proof that this was not reserved to Ove Andersson was when by indeed pure coincidence a Visa rally car of Citroën's German importer was registered "K-AM 6363". One of several Andersson Motorsport Toyota works cars not to display an "AM" plate was "K-DS 307", which again by pure coincidence was similar to a car Ford showed on the German Taunus/Cortina catalogues throughout it's Mk4 facelift generation "K-DS 306".

Chassis numbers: Toyota is a slightly curios case here, as project numbers are incorporated in the build numbers. Early group4 cars just have normal random road chassis numbers. The groupB Celica has 3-digit build numbers with the first digit a 1, Supra 2, this is followed by groupA Celicas in 3 generations, which leads to Corolla WRC numbers actually starting from 601.

Toyota Rally Cars

Model Class
Toyota Toyota Auris (E140)  Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T
Toyota Toyota Celica (A20)  Group 4
Toyota Toyota Celica (A40)  Group 4
Toyota Toyota Celica (A60)  Group 4
Toyota Toyota Celica (A60)  Group B
Toyota Toyota Celica (T160)  Group A
Toyota Toyota Celica (T160)  Group N
Toyota Toyota Celica (T180)  Group A
Toyota Toyota Celica (T200)  Group A
Toyota Toyota Celica (T200)  Group N
Toyota Toyota Corolla (E100)  World Rally Car
Toyota Toyota Corolla (E120)  Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T
Toyota Toyota Corolla (E20)  Group 4
Toyota Toyota Corolla (E80)  Group A
Toyota Toyota GT86  Class R3
Toyota Toyota Supra (A70)  Group A
Toyota Toyota Yaris (XP130)  World Rally Car

Rally Honour Roll

Year Class Place Manufacturer Events
2017 WRC World Rally Car 3rd. Toyota (251pts) 13

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

1999 WRC World Rally Car 1st. Toyota (109pts) 14

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1998 WRC World Rally Car 2nd. Toyota (85pts) 13

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1995 WRC Group A 66th. Toyota (1pts) 8

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1994 WRC Group A 1st. Toyota (151pts) 10

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1993 WRC Group A 1st. Toyota (157pts) 13

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1992 WRC Group A 2nd. Toyota (116pts) 14

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1991 WRC Group A 2nd. Toyota (128pts) 14

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1990 WRC Group A 2nd. Toyota (131pts) 13

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1989 WRC Group A 2nd. Toyota (101pts) 13

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1988 WRC Group A 5th. Toyota (46pts) 13

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1987 WRC Group A 7th. Toyota (22pts) 13

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1986 WRC Group B 6th. Toyota (20pts) 13

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1985 WRC Group B 5th. Toyota (44pts) 12

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1984 WRC Group B 4th. Toyota (62pts) 12

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1983 WRC Open 6th. Toyota (24pts) 12

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1982 WRC Open 5th. Toyota (41pts) 12

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1980 WRC Open 66th. Toyota (9pts) 12

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1979 WRC Open 6th. Toyota (58pts) 12

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1978 WRC Open 6th. Toyota (50pts) 11

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1977 WRC Open 3rd. Toyota (68pts) 11

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1976 WRC Open 6th. Toyota (35pts) 10

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1975 WRC Open 7th. Toyota (32pts) 10

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1974 WRC Open 5th. Toyota (32pts) 8

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1973 WRC Open 10th. Toyota (25pts) 13

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar