Toyota Germany's Classic Car Collection
Toyota's Community Hotspot in Cologne
Peter Pichert was no ordinary car dealer. He was one of the first Toyota dealers in Germany and liked to keep the vehicles he bought back from customers when they were getting a new car. The fist car Peter acquired was a 1971 Toyota Corolla in a classic green colour. Over the years more than 140 Toyota's ended up in his personal collection and in 1994 he decided to open a museum, the highlight being a red Toyota 2000GT. It fastly became a hot spot for classic car and Toyota enthusiasts, being one of the few collections of the Japanese manufacturer in Europe.
The car that started it all: The 1971 Toyota Corolla.
When Peter Pichert died in 2016, Toyota heard of the opportunity to acquire the 2000GT. However, Mr. Picherts children, who still run the dealership today, had other plans. Since they did not have the resources to run the museum by themselves, Toyota needed to buy the complete collection to acquire the 2000GT. Toyota Germany saw this as an opportunity to improve their connection with the car community and decided to reopen the museum at their sales location in Cologne, Germany.
The highlight of the Toyota Collection: a 1967 2000GT.
There was just one small problem: Being only a national marketing and sales company, Toyota Germany did not have the spacial resources to store, let alone exhibit 140 cars. Thus, two measures came into action. The first one was to transform a tennis hall that was built for their employees into an exhibit hall since it was not used to a great extend. The second one, which is painful for some enthusiasts, was to decide which cars to keep and which cars to let go, considering only half of the cars could be presented without creating a cramped indoor car park. Therefore, the best examples were chosen while identical cars and cars in bad shape were auctioned off.
In November 2017 the now branded 'Toyota Collection' opened their doors for the fist time to the public. Every first Saturday of the month visitors can experience different theme days around the Toyota brand. Starting with 'Supra day' or 'Hybrid day' and finishing with the yearly Christmas bazaar. You can improve your Toyota know-how by listening to the bearded museum guide, take a seat in your dream car - yes that is allowed, except for the 2000GT and race cars - or get a kebab and hang with your friends in the Toyota parking lot. And for the Toyota owners out there: Every theme day you can apply to exhibit your car in the collection itself.
The Toyota Collection houses all kind of cars. From dynamic 70s and 80s sports coupés to Japanese muscle, family saloons, durable off-road vehicles and the most recent hybrid and hydrogen cars.
Talking sports cars and coupés, you can take a look at every Toyota Celica from the TA22 from 1973 to the iconic 1991 ST185 GT-Four Carlos Sainz edition. You will find every Toyota Supra that was sold in Europe, the eye catching MA61, the more subtle MA70 and the Fast and Furious Hero JZA80. A little sports car people tend to forget is the absolutely awesome MR2 AW11, a pocket rocket that houses the same 4AGE engine as the famous Corolla AE86. Which is present as well - obviously.
When it comes to hatchbacks and saloons you might be able find your seventies, eighties or nineties daily or even the car your parents drove you around in. Several generations of Toyota Starlet, Corolla, Corona, Cressida and even Toyota Crown are present to relive your old memories. Toyota's first front-wheel-drive vehicle was the quirky Tercel. However, the second generation AL25 estate is the 4WD version with raised suspension and an extra low sixth gear to crawl up your driveway.
But what would a Toyota museum be without their greatest innovation of the last decades: The mighty hybrid drive. Started in 1997 with the first generation Prius, everyone smiled at the Japanese manufacturer. However, today almost 60 percent of all Toyota sales in Germany are delivered with a hybrid drive. You can take a look into the engine bay of two cutaway models to get an impression of the complex system, revealing the planetary gearing and the electric motors.
One of the first Prius in Germany: A right-hand-drive press car to publicise the 'new' hybrid drive.
If you like weird and unique cars you will be rewarded as well. On the unique side you will find the Toyota Sera with butterfly doors and one of the few left-hand-drive Toyota Century that was used to chauffeur high-rank Toyota managers in Europe. Another rather interesting car is a Toyota AE85 from Indonesia. The owner drove the car from his hometown across Asia and Europe to propose to his girlfriend in Germany. That is called love.
On the weird side you will find a Toyota Aygo which was used in a commercial that can hydraulically 'raise a leg' and pi** on the sidewalk. Furthermore you will find an IQ 'Disco' that looks like a disco ball and is equipped with a DJ pult. And if you can not make yourself up if you like American V8's or Toyota's, the highly modified Land Cruiser FJ40 'Chevota' from 1979 with a Chevy V8 might be your thing.
Already talking Land Cruisers we have to further address the famously reliable off-road hero which was and still is a very important car for the Japanese manufacturer. So it is no wonder that a bunch of these machines can be found in the Toyota Collection. The first Land Cruiser available in Germany was the J4 generation which is represented by a fire engine. Further generations include an FJ60 which was reportedly owned by Sean Connery and the hugely impressive 'Buschtaxi' of the bearded museum guide.
With Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe, former Team Toyota Europe just across the street, the collection would not be complete without some of their most successful racing cars. My personal favourite and a permanent contender in the 'most beautiful racing cars of all time category' is the GT One or TS020. The exhibited car is the actual number two car of 1999 which sadly could not finish the 24 hours of Le Mans after an accident in the 173rd round on the Circuit de la Sarthe. Next to the actual race car you will find three presentation cars: a 2002 Toyota FT102 Formula One car, an early version of the three times Le Mans winning Toyota TS050 and a 1999 Corolla WRC.
For the interested folks out there: I wrote an article about the Toyota Motorsport Museum which covers Toyota's race cars of Le Mans, Formula One, WRC and some quirky projects that were built over the years.
Behind some unsuspicious doors under the wind tunnels of the Toyota Motorsport factory lies a collection of cars that makes your dream come true...
Besides the monthly community events the Toyota Collection is used for all types of occasions. To celebrate the win of the 2019 24 hours of Le Mans, the trophy was handed over from Toyota Motorsport to be exhibited in the collection since the 1987 Toyota Celica convertible of the museum was used to bring the Le Mans trophy home to the Circuit de la Sarthe before the race. Next to the 2000GTs, of which there are actually two, - how could I forget to mention that - a quite spectacular scenery was created.
If you want to learn more about the beautiful grand tourer you are welcome to read my article about Japans first supercar.
All photos are made by myself. If you want to see more content make sure to leave a follow. ^.^ And if you wondered: There is now a fitness studio for the employees, no tennis though.