Toyota, with its 360,000 employees and status as the world’s largest car maker, can be a confusing beast.
In the new GR Supra it chose to revive perhaps its greatest hit, yet did so by way of a lukewarm twin to the BMW Z4. At the same time, and despite the fact that it refuses to give the current Corolla the powertrain its superb TNGA platform craves, the company’s engineers have recently blown the doors clean off the hot hatch class with a bespoke four-wheel-drive take on the humble Yaris.
Evidently, what Toyota could do and what it actually does don’t always align. So perhaps it’s no surprise to learn that while the brand has hidden in its possession one of the most droolworthy motorsport relics anywhere on planet Earth, the ultimate fate of the car is currently unclear.
In fairness, there are only so many things you can do with the one road-legal GT-One ever to exist. Fewer still when those fabulous and unmistakable scarlet curves have travelled just 12 or so miles in the car’s quiet 22-year life. It isn’t currently running. Of course it isn’t. But how and indeed whether to get it going again is currently being discussed. At least in an official sense. Thanks to the passion of one or two old hands in the engineering and service department, who begin their work in the small hours, the process of breathing life back into this homologation monster has already quietly begun.
Autocar was lucky enough to witness GT-One ‘K-LM 1998’ in a partially stripped-down state, which is something to be savoured. Beyond Toyota’s amazing collection of largely successful World Rally Championship cars, mainly ill-fated Formula 1 cars and occasionally brilliant top-tier sports car racers that slumbers in a cavernous basement whose roof is formed by the undersides of the facility’s two very loud wind tunnels, the marque has no official ‘historics’ department in Europe. It means ad hoc work like that currently happening to K-LM isn’t something one can come and witness at any time, as one might at Porsche or Mercedes.
The ‘facility’ itself is Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe GmbH (TGR-E) – formerly known as Toyota Motorsport GmbH, and located just outside Cologne. Rather than being a dedicated motorsport hub, this is an R&D centre that heavily supports the current WRC and World Endurance Championship efforts and was once home to the F1 team before the cord was cut in 2009 after seven winless years. But we don’t talk about that too much, because it’s still an uncomfortable topic.