Toyotafest 2014 Details:
- Held at the Queen Mary on May 3rd
- Chronicled 7+ decades of sports cars, econo-boxes, luxury cars & trucks
- Special Toyota MR2 display at the entrance to the show
- Bruce Amurao's SW20, Matthew Nichols' GS300 among our favorites
May 3rd's Toyotafest at the Queen Mary events park in Long Beach was the first since Toyota Motor Sales, USA announced it was picking up and leaving Southern California. In case you've been living under a rock, in April Toyota confirmed it was moving its Stateside headquarters from Torrance to Texas, in part to be closer to its manufacturing centers. To Cali enthusiasts, though, the move seems to be perceived as an enormous bummer at the very least, with many criticizing the state and its politicians for an inhospitable business environment.
We were hoping an official Toyota rep would show up to the event to allay any fears of the most ardent fans, and one did speak briefly towards the end of the day. But his assurances were mostly window dressing, lacking substance other than the company would try its best to continue supporting the event.
Given Toyota's newfound rapport with its performance fans - illustrated by the supremely tossable Scion FR-S and the commitment to do a new Supra - we'd argue the corporation is far from forgetting the enthusiast. Years of that commitment were again on display at Toyotafest, chronicling seven-plus decades of sports cars, econo-boxes, luxury cars and trucks.
The featured vehicle corral near the main entrance to the show included Lexus IS, GS and LS, but the first thing we saw as we stepped foot into the venue were rows of Toyota MR2. Several hot examples of the mid-engine RWD coupe caught our eye, none more so than Bruce Amurao's tangerine wrapped wide body. We've seen the SW20 around the scene for some time and never get tired of the build, a mix of custom Abflug fender flares, APR aero, and bits and pieces like the RE Amemiya RX-7 rear diffuser and 18-inch Work Equips. This MR2 jams, too, thanks to a stroked 3S-GTE mill and upgraded Precision turbo.
Matthew Nichols' 1998 Lexus GS300 was another popular show car and not far from Amurao's machine. The VIP luxury sedan takes things to the next level, rocking a custom metal wide body sprayed in a custom metal-flaked red. A UAS air suspension allows the Lexus to drop all the way down over the 19-inch Leon Hardiritt Ordens, enough to rest the Admiration lip kit on the ground.
There were others, too, like Noel Barnum's continually evolving Scion FR-S, getting more and more aggressive looking each time we see it. The continuing rise of Toyota Cressida sedans as a viable tuner platform also put a smile on our face, as did all the slammed pickup trucks (as if the 1990s never ended).
All in all it was another great event, living up to the heritage laid down by previous Toyotafests. It is hugely disappointing to see Toyota leave SoCal, but as long as this event keeps championing the brand, and enthusiasts keep patronizing it, we'll continue to see high quality builds and restorations Toyotafest is famous for.