Earlier today, Toyota Gazoo revealed its all-new GR 86 which proved its dedication to fun, driver-focused rear-wheel drive coupes. This is a configuration that the Japanese manufacturer has experimented with in many shapes and sizes over the years. Below are 10 examples that we think stood out from the lot.
1965 Toyota Sports 800
With the Sports 800, Toyota kept things small and minimal but make no mistake, the end product was effective. Weighing only 580 kg, this micro-coupe utilised an air-cooled twin-carb 0,8-litre flat-two engine which pushed 33 kW to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox.
With a four-year life cycle, 3 131 units of the Sports 800 were built. Most of these were right-hand drive but around 300 were built with the steering wheel on the other side for the Okinawa market which was occupied by the USA at the time.
Things were kept light thanks to a selection aluminium panels on selected parts of the body and thin steel for the unibody construction. The Sports 800 is so important to Toyota’s history that Gazoo restored a 1966 example with its current brand philosophies in mind.
1967 Toyota 2000GT
Of the coupes that have been penned by Toyota, it’s undeniable that the 2000GT was the one that turns the most heads. With a production run of just three years and 351 units produced, it’s also the most exclusive. Looks aside, the stylish coupe was also a competent performance car thanks to a 2,0-litre straight-six engine with three double-barrel carburettors and dual overhead cams.
With this powertrain and a five-speed manual gearbox, the 2000GT delivered 110 kW and 175 N.m of torque to the rear wheels which allowed it to hit a top speed of 217 km/h. A limited slip differential, all-round power-assisted disc brakes and a fully independent suspension ensured that it could tackle the bends with ease as well.
On the track, it proved its worth with it clenching a number of titles. Carroll Shelby even invested some time into prepping two cars in the 1968 SCCA production car races under the CP category.
1983 Toyota Levin/Sprinter Trueno Coupe GT Apex
The Levin/Sprinter Trueno is better known in liftback guise thanks to the successful anime Initial D but many of you might not know that this car was also available in coupe guise. With it being a member of the AE86 family, this would be the direct ancestor of the modern iteration of the 86.
With a naturally aspirated twincam 16-valve 1,6-litre four-cylinder engine pushing 96 kW and 149 N.m of torque, it wasn’t all too big on power but its kerb weight of 925 kg, five-speed manual gearbox and loose rear-wheel drive system made it leaps of fun to drive around the corners.
1991 Toyota Soarer UZZ32
More commonly known as the Lexus SC400, the naturally aspirated 4,0-litre V8 powered Toyota Soarer is where people started to realise that the Japanese manufacturer actually knew a thing or two about making luxury coupes.
It was also pretty advanced. To help it handle the 195 kW and 363 N.m of torque sent to the rear wheels, the large coupe was fitted with active suspension and four-wheel steering. Unlike all of the cars above, this was only offered as an automatic transmission. It was also one of the first cars to feature a touchscreen infotainment system with GPS satellite navigation.
1990 Toyota MR-2 GT
The MR-2 is the only mid-engined car to feature on this list but still, it’s a rear-wheel drive coupe. This traditionally 90s sportscar has been praised by many for being a massively enjoyable product thanks to its potent 163 kW turbocharged 2,0-litre four-cylinder 3S-GTE engine which was only available with a six-speed manual gearbox.
As the range-topper, the GT trim was fitted kitted with Alcantara and leather upholstery. Japanese-spec models were fitted with climate control and two-stage air conditioning.
Development of the MR-2 was a serious job for Toyota who invested countless hours in perfecting its handling capabilities. Racing legend Dan Gurney was brought onboard as a consultant to help translate an authentic sportscar feel.
1997 Toyota Supra RZ-S
This really is a car that needs to introduction. The A80 Supra has become a cult classic to the point that used models are now fetching seven figures. It’s undeniable that its appearance in 2001’s The Fast and the Furious had a hand in it becoming a cult classic but there’s more to this 90s sportscar than it being a movie star.
As standard, the range-topping RZ-S the now iconic 2JZ-GTE twin-turbo 3,0-litre straight-six which delivered 206 kW and 451 N.m of torque to the rear wheels via a Getrag V161 six-speed manual or, for some reason, a four-speed automatic transmission. Through thorough mechanical upgrades, some owners have been able to get well over 700 kW from this engine.
2012 Toyota 86
When the 86 arrived in South Africa, we couldn’t believe its launch price of R298 500 which a far cry from the R657 700 that’s being asked for the current GT 86. On paper, it was exactly what enthusiasts wanted; affordable, fun and memorable.
The 86 sported a naturally aspirated 2,0-litre flat-four which sent 147 kW and 205 N.m of torque to the rear wheels by means of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Not exactly a missile in a straight line but as soon as you got it to the first corner, it was rather difficult to keep the smiles at bay.
2019 Toyota Supra
Yes, we know. It’s a “BMW” but having sampled the A90 Toyota Supra on a number of occasions, we cannot deny that despite its bones, it is a unique experience in its own right. With its more compact two-seater configuration, it quite a bit different from the predecessor that sits higher up on this list but there’s no denying its dynamic and focused driving characteristics.
Featuring BMW’s B58 twin-scroll turbocharged 3,0-litre straight-six sending 250 kW and 500 N.m of torque, the Supra is quick off the line with a claimed 0-100 km/h time of 4,3 seconds. Thanks to BMW’s CLAR platform, it’s also a hoot around the corners.