Five cool Toyota cars you actually want to own
Toyota has more than just Corollas and Camrys in its arsenal. Here are five models built by the famous Japanese marque that you can safely pilot everyday without looking like an Uber driver
Built exclusively for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) between 1990 and 1996, the Sera (above) is a small 2+2 coupe that emphasises style over driving substance. Not only did it sport an almost exclusively glass canopy but also a pair of forward-opening butterfly doors (aka gullwing doors) as seen in the legendary McLaren F1. In fact the Sera was the inspiration for then McLaren designer, Gordon Murray, to put butterfly doors on the F1 in the first place. Power – all 80kW of it – came courtesy a 1.5-litre 5E-FHE motor.
There are three generations of Toyota MR2 and we like the first one the most. Known internally as the AW11 and produced between 1984 and 1989, this awesomely straight-angled sports car bought mid-engined driving thrills to the masses. Tweaked by Lotus handling engineer, Roger Becker, it was not only a hoot to boot through corners but also – courtesy a revtastic 1.6-litre 4A-GE engine – faster than contemporary rivals of the time such as the Pontiac Fiero and Fiat X1/9. Flip-up headlights are the coup de gråce.
Toyota Century V12:
The second-generation Toyota Century (G50) remains the only Japanese production car ever to be fitted with a V12 engine – the 5.0-litre 1GZ-FE. Yep, true story. Another fine feature of the Century is that it achieves great luxury through great anonymity – the total opposite to similar cars built by the likes of Maybach and Rolls-Royce and Bentley. For although it may look like a slightly overgrown Cressida from the outside, inside the Century is a cocoon of restrained luxury. Feel-good features include woolen seats (cooler in summer and quieter than leather), lace curtains, an air purification system, a DVD player and a carphone. The front passenger seat also has a special passthrough section that allows the person sat in the back to really put his or her feet up.
As 1990s as an Apple iMac G3, the first-generation Toyota RAV4 is starting to become strangely collectable. Especially if it's a three-door model and especially if it's licked in period-correct teal metallic paint. Nostalgia aside it's easy to see why as the RAV4 holds automotive significance as being the world's first compact crossover SUV – a breed of vehicle that now pretty much dominates the global market. Reliable as an AK-47 it today still makes an excellent city car and is also capable of a little weekend soft-roading.
The Supra IV is without a doubt the most-coveted street car in Toyota's 81-year history: a high water mark from the Japanese Bubble era in which anything seemed possible. Left alone in factory specification it was a rapid and über-reliable GT that could devour great distances but also crack a smile when steered down some winding mountain backroad.
However in tuner culture the Supra IV was a blank canvas: a sleek and customisable sportster that could be tweaked to embarrass European exotics costing double – even triple – the price. The secret lay with the 243kW 2JZ-GTE engine living under the hood: a tough-as-a-truck 3.0-litre inline-six that could easily be tuned to deliver 600kW – with stock internals. No wonder it landed a leading roll in the first Fast and The Furious film.
Today the Toyota Supra IV is highly desirable automotive commodity with mint examples commanding top dollar – literally. On US car classified website, Bring a Trailer, one recently sold for a staggering $121 000 (roughly R1 694 000).