History of Toyota sports cars (part 7)

For sports car fans and Toyota purists, the arrival of the GT86 in 2011 was a welcome relief. With no MR2, Celica or Supra in the range to satisfy their cravings for the past few years, the pedigree of the GT86 was exactly what they had been waiting so long for.

Return of pure driving joy

Inspired by Toyota’s sporting icons of the past – such as the 2000GT and AE86 – a team of passionate designers and engineers with a single-minded aim to deliver the pure joy of driving, brought the classic sports car experience to a new generation with the GT86. Recalling the well-proven attributes for sports car success, the front engine and rear-wheel drive configuration, the GT86’s 2-litre horizontally-opposed engine and curvaceous styling brought the best from the driver-focused Toyotas of the past into the modern day.

With a high-revving rear-located petrol engine driving the rear wheels, a low centre of gravity and a lightweight body, the GT86 offered drivers great handling and electrifying reactions – exactly what the engineers had promised.


As a design treat, iconic 86 badges adorn the GT86’s steering wheel and even the exhaust tip measures a perfect 86mm in reference to the engines 86mm bore and stroke specification and the 86’s development tag.

Like many iconic Toyotas that have gone before it, the GT86 has garnered huge plaudits the world over for its unbridled driving experience and return to simple, affordable motoring fun. Thanks to its proven dynamics the GT86 has enjoyed success in many forms of motorsport around the world. Most notably in 2015, the GT86 CS-R3 rally car was made available for cost-effective entry into the thrills of competitive rallying, including the World Rally Championship.

Toyota’s sports car future

Around the time of the GT86’s launch, Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda set out his vision for the company’s immediate future, saying: ‘We continue to make better cars’ and ‘if it’s not fun to drive, it’s not a car.’

So with renewed purpose at the heart of the company and the results of this driver-focused mindset obvious for all to see in the GT86, what could the future hold for cars that invoke Toyota’s rich past?

Published: 24 October 2016

Information correct at time of publication.


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More from Toyota heritage

2000GT - History of Toyota sports cars 2000GT - History of Toyota sports cars Famous for its starring role alongside Sean Connery in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, the Toyota 2000GT arrived on the world stage in the same year and instantly made a statement that Toyota was serious about challenging the best sports cars Europe had to offer. CELICA - History of Toyota sports cars CELICA - History of Toyota sports cars With a name that means ‘Celestial’ or ‘Heavenly’ in Spanish, the minute the Celica turned a wheel in 1970, it was destined to be a star. The Celica was designed to provide drivers with a greater feeling of freedom, combining a practical interior within a sporty and affordable package. COROLLA - History of Toyota sports cars COROLLA - History of Toyota sports cars On the face of it, Toyota’s most well-known family car – and the world’s best-selling vehicle – the Corolla, would seem out of place in the company of highly-focused sports cars but, in truth, over the years the Corolla has produced some of the most well-loved sporting Toyotas. MR2 - History of Toyota sports cars MR2 - History of Toyota sports cars The MR2 of 1984 was actually derived from a 1976 design project that had the goal of building an enjoyable, yet fuel efficient car. Over the coming years, the ethos of the original concept evolved into a sports car and the resulting ‘Midship Runabout 2-seater’ was born.
Visions of the future
History of Toyota sports cars (part 8)