Toyota's Secret Motorsport Museum
Behind some unsuspicious doors under the wind tunnels of the Toyota Motorsport factory lies a collection of cars that makes your dream come true...
If you will get the rare opportunity to be able to visit the Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, former Team Toyota Europe (TTE), you should take a look at their own little museum. Behind some unsuspicious doors under the massive wind tunnels of the Toyota Motorsport factory lies the possibly most interesting collection of cars in all of Cologne.
Rally history - in form of the Toyota Celica
After entering the museum, you are greeted by TTEs first rally cars to your left (more on that later), right across from many cups and plates that were achieved during several racing series. The first smiles rush over your face before you recognize that a Formula One car is hanging from the ceiling, right between the two massive tubes of the wind turbines. When lowering your view, you will see Toyota's complete Formula One line-up and a representative car for each LMP1 generation.
The Le Mans winning 2019 TS050 Hybrid
When I visited it was only a few weeks after the victory of the TS050 Hybrid in Le Mans so that the winning #8 was, still covered in the debris it picked up during the race, parked next to its predecessors.
13 years in between - the TS020 and TS030 endurance racecars
Moving past the TS040 and TS030 Hybrid race cars, the beautiful Toyota GT-One, or TS020, comes to sight. Arguably the most appealing endurance race car ever built, with its teardrop-shaped body and the massive, but elegantly designed rear wing.
The beauty and the beast - in one car: Toyota's famous GT-One
During a closer look at the car you might wonder why there is a tennis ball on the windscreen and how this joke of a windscreen wiper should work during the lightest bit of rain. The answers to these oddities are quite simple: The tennis ball is connected to a protective foam that sits inside the roof scoop. The ball in sight would alarm the driver if the foam is still inside the roof scoop when the car is about to hit the track. The small windscreen wiper – that has zero function left – was attached to the car during the qualifying. Thus, every bit of wind resistance that was still left by the wiper could be reduced.
The first of the two TS020 in line, which achieved the second place in Le Mans in 1999, had its engine cover removed and allowed a unique glance into the over-engineered 3.6 litre turbo V8. The pushrod suspension that sits right between other engine components or the chassis tubing that is simultaneously used as a wind channel for brake cooling are just two details of this impressive car.
Group C glory - the Toyota TS010
I could go on with the GT-One forever if it wasn’t about another car that impressed me even further. A car with an even bigger, detached wing, two cylinders more but six years older. I am talking about the 1993 Toyota TS010, a Group C beast with a naturally aspirated 3.5 litre V10, producing an astonishing 640 PS. It’s brutal appearance in the red and white livery with the golden wheels puts every modern endurance race car to shame. The detached double-decker wing has to be one of the most prominent aspects of any Toyota race car ever built to date.
Rear spoiler of the TS010 - what a view
After finishing admiring the impressive endurance race cars, I made my way to the other side of the wind tunnel. Minding my head not to hit any of the tubing of the industrial construct, Toyota Motorsports tuning cars come to sight. These were the cars I expected the least. Once presented at the Essen Motorshow in 2012, the Lexus TS650 is probably the most extreme version of any Lexus LS 460L, on which it is based.
Lexus TS650 - TMG's interpretation of an LS460L
Even though the tuning cars are quite outstanding in a normal fashion, this is not an ordinary place so another not so ordinary car caught my attention. And this time it was an electric one – the former record holder for electric race cars at the Nürburgring, set in 2012 with a lap time of 7 minutes and 22.329 seconds – by the TMG EV P002.
TMG EV P002 - former record holder for electric vehicles on the Nürburgring
After exiting the World Endurance Championship, Toyota entered Formula One. A first test car was developed in 2001, equipped with a 2998 cc naturally aspirated V10. Famous drivers for Toyota were Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher who entered the team in 2004 and 2005. In the later year Toyota achieved its first podiums, being second in Malaysia and Bahrain and third in Spain, Hungary and China.
Toyota AM01 - Toyota's first Formula One car
Toyota ended its final F1 season in 2009 with five podiums. The actual chassis from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was later signed by all TMG employees of that time.
Toyota's work with Formula One cars ended not immediately. Some cars were used as tire test cars for Pirelli. Not wearing a livery on their carbon skin and sitting next to some tanks in dimmed industrial lightning make these machines look even more out of this world.
Pirelli tire test car in full exposed carbon fibre
From Formula One we are going back in time and back to the rally cars from the beginning. We start in 1972 with the Toyota Celica 1600GT. The 165PS strong TA22 is the first car TTE rallied in Group 2. Being based around the body of a series production car of the seventies with its original dashboard still in place underlines the variety of racing cars Toyota Motorsport built during their versatile racing history.
Toyota's first rally car, the Celica 1600GT
While studying the data sheets of these lifted off-road machines, the drastic increase in power caught my eye. The 1979 Celica Liftback RA40, which drove in Group 4, delivered 230PS. Just four years later made the 1983 Celica TA64, Toyota's take on the famous Group B, an astonishing output of 370 PS. Nicknamed the “African Queen”, the TA64 dominated the Safari and Ivory Coast rallies.
Even more powerful is the Toyota MR-2 AW11 222D. This 1986 prototype, developed for the never implemented Group S, delivers up to 600 PS. A regulation change axed the plans for this group so that the MR2 never made an official appearance.
During the following Group A era achieved Toyota its first overall victories. In 1990 won Carlos Sainz the drivers world championship in the Celica ST165. The car presented in the TMG museum was the actual winning car Sainz drove at the 1991 Rally Corsica.
Toyota Celica ST165, driven by Carlos Sainz during the Rally Corsica
But it was the Celica ST185 that became famous for Toyota's achievements in rally sports. It being the car that was most successful in all of Toyota's rally history and winning the 1993 and 1994 manufacturers world championship. Before quitting WRC in 1999, Toyota secured its third manufacturers title with the Corolla WRC.
After several years, Toyota decided to return and re-entered in 2017 with the Yaris WRC. Since the engines of the rally cars are being developed at TMG, an engine prototype car was present as well. Already built in 2015, it underlines the amount of time that enters the development of a racing engine.
Toyota Yaris WRC enginge test car
During my visit I filmed a short walkthrough. It includes the start up and revs of the WRC engine prototype car. Enjoy and mind your ears!