Archive>>ff & Awd Toyotas At The Track

Car makers try to offer cars to fit every market,  but everyone knows that each has their own “signature” when it comes to enthusiast cars. For example, Honda has its compact FF sports cars, Nissan has the Z and, GT-R, while Mitsubishi and Subaru have their AWD rally cars, and Mazda its lightweight sports cars. What about Toyota though? As you read in my 101 post last week, Toyota’s contributions to the automotive world are spread out pretty evenly. From big turbocharged sedans and MR sports cars to rally-spec Celicas and Corollas, Toyota has pretty much done it all.

With that said, I thought it’d be nice to take a look at some of the FF and AWD Toyotas I’ve spotted at the track over the past couple years. Toyota’s FF’s might not be as popular as their competitionn (cough..Honda), but they have a strong following among circuit racers. Toyota’s small FF cars in particular make great platforms for those who are on a budget or those just getting into the world of motorsport.

I’ll start off with one of Toyota’s best FF cars ever, the AE111 Levin and Trueno. We never got these in the USA, but they are popular in lots of other countries, including Japan. Packing the 20 valve 4AGE with factory individual throttle bodies and a 6-speed manual, these cars are advanced even by today’s standards. The AE101’s and AE111’s might have lived in the shadow of the Type R Hondas, but the 20-valve engine reached legend-status after finding its way under the hood of the AE86.

Here’s an AE101 Levin doing what it does best – serving as a low budget weekend race car. In addition to the naturally aspirated 20 valve, these cars could also be had with the torque-heavy supercharged 4AGZE.

Here’s a Toyota that you don’t hear about to often, the Caldina GT-Four equipped a 3SGTE and all-wheel-drive. For a while this was the hottest car in Toyota’s line-up, but production stopped in 2007. This photo shows two GT-Fours going at it during the Trust Zeroyon event last summer. Sleek looking machine isn’t it?

And here’s a contribution from the USA – TEIN’s Yaris 3-door time attack car. One thing I’ve always liked about the USDM Yaris is that it’s available as a 3-door hatch. Not too many of those on the market any more…

And now the spiritual predecessor to the Vitz and the Yaris, the Starlet. Us Yanks were lumped with the Tercel, but the rest of the world got the more interesting Starlet. The high end versions of the Starlet were even available with a turbocharged 1.3 liter four cylinder. I didn’t get a look under the hood of this car, but I’m guessing it has plenty of power to turn those big CE28N’s.  Anyone remember the old Option 2 video where they built a Starlet to run faster than an R34 GT-R?

The Corolla Fielder wagon might be better suited for a shopping day than a track day, but as you should know by now, people in Japan will tune and race anything with wheels.

Here’s a track-tuned Toyota Vitz similar to the one that Antonio just posted. Speaking of the Vitz, I was just reading an article in Rev Speed Magazine the other day about the Power Enterprise supercharger kit for the Vitz. With the blower the Vitz puts down 150ps, which is a nice number for a car of this size.

It wasn’t just the coupes that came with the 20-valve 4AGE, you could also get a Corolla BZ touring wagon with the 20-valve and the 6-speed manual. Talk about a cool combination…

When it comes to tuned FF Toyotas in Japan, this one might be the king. It’s an AE101 Levin JGTC replica built by Bomex and a shop called “BROS”, and it recently lapped Tsukuba Circuit in just over one minute and two seconds. You may have seen this car at Tokyo Auto Salon during the past couple years.

Here’s an older model Caldina GT-T at the same Trust drag racing event. Essentially a station wagon version of the Celica GT-Four.

And one of the few ST205 Celica GT-Fours I’ve seen in all my trips to Tsukuba. This car was running in the 1:04 range when I saw it last year.

Another budget-built AE111 race car.

And finally, a first generation Vitz gymkhana car at Twin Ring Motegi back in 2006. The Vitz is one of the most popular gymkhana cars in Japan alongside Honda’s FF models.

Next time I’ll dig into the archive for some Supra and Soarer shots.

-Mike Garrett



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I wonder,,why toyota stopped making the AE´S series,



Better as why has toyota killed every sports car it ever had!


You meant "spiritual PREDECESSOR" about the relation between the Starlet and Vitz/Yaris right? ^_^'

My mom owns a first-gen Yaris. A pretty regular car with a tiny engine, but also VERY light. Everytime i drive it that thing surprises me. It's bone stock, but with some work i'm betting it could be a decent car for small technical courses.

I wish i could try out an RS version... That'd be sweet. xD

Looking forward to the Supras and Soarers Mike!


Man, no wonder Toyota is viewed as boring over here...If we had options like a 20Valve wagon and that amazing looking Caldina, I would have always been a Toyota head. Is the Caldina the same as the new Venza? It looks very similar...


I like that old blue Caldina. 4WD turbo wagons FTW!



No the caldina was nothing like the Venza. It had the 3S-GTE and was based on the avansis.


Naga Ten - you are correct sir! My bad.


I love Toyotas in Japan! Even the FF ones are cool. Cmon Toyota USA!!!


I have just moved from a Toyota.

I had a little Glanza like the one in the first picture.

Tuned it to 275hp, was very fast but now have moved to a Honda EK9.


I have just moved from a Toyota.

I had a little Glanza like the one in the first picture.

Tuned it to 275hp, was very fast but now have moved to a Honda EK9.


Man japan has the best cars. Why aren't US cars atleast 1/2 as fun, argh.


hey mike, just wondering but have you seen any st185 series gt fours in japan?

it seems like it is not very popular with tuners/racers.....


I fukn LOVE that 205 Celica!

I should get my self a Vitz to race in the Vitz cup... BTW what kind of budget would I need for somthing like that? I wish speedhunters could do a Post or a 101 post on One Make series in Japan. Ive alwease been really intreged by the vairous one make cups.


Wheres the ae82 at? Tsuchiya used to race in one I think.


Like the Glanza-V and the 3dr TEIN Yaris. Well there a lot of Toyotas in Malaysia as well. KE70 are popular as a cheap drift car and the as well as seeing several tuned Toyota Vios around my area.


<3 Starlet Glanza, I was going to get one but couldn't afford the insurance, maybe one day...


My girlfriend in the UK has a 1st gen Vitz (aka Yaris) that needs a new bumper and such since she got hit by a drunk driver and then hit a fox. Maybe some racing parts will make their way onto the car.... :D


The car you called a fielder looks more like a Runx. Sort of a corolla with celica running gear, 2zzge and a 6spd box. Designed to be a direct equivalent to type R civics. They're moderatly popular with mild tunes in Japan.


very cool post mike. good to know the jdm got more exciting ff toyotas. you should so a post on the matrix. more popular in the us market. even though most are just used as daily drivers the 1stgen xrs version can hold their own with the celica's 2zzge engine.


In reply to Daves comment about the Fielder/Runx, the UK actually gets a Corolla T-Sport that has the Celica running gear. In fact, my dad has one, and they seem to have the edge over Civic Type-R's due to their stability system.

Pic of Dad's car:


great to see those GT-4 on the line up....


The ST205 Celica GT-Four is looking great even by today standards, not dated at all. Cool car.


The ST205 Celica GT-Four is looking great even by today standards, not dated at all. Cool car.


Would be great to see more AE101 action. Such an underrated car