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The World Rally Championship started in 1973, and the team which most conscientiously supported the series through this time has been Toyota. Toyota arrived at exactly the right time! The first world level rally on which Toyota was officially represented was the final pre-championship rally, the 1972 RAC Rally, when Ove Andersson drove a type of car then little known in Europe. This quiet entry with a Celica 1600GT began a rallying legend which only finished at the end of the Millenium. Andersson lived through this era from start to finish, and knew all the facts. For many years he was the number one driver in the team as well as the boss. Just before Rally Australia in 1999, Ove Andersson explained to Martin Holmes the contribution made by each of the 10 models of car used by the team up until that time.

The Toyota Corolla Levin TE20 on the Acropolis Rally in the early 70s. Photo: Martin Holmes

1. Corolla Levin TE20/TE27 Debut: TE20 RAC 1973, Asterhag (note private driver Boyce used a TE20 to win the 1973 Press on Regardless), Group 2 two valve Debut: TE 27 RAC 1974, Waldegard and Andersson (Group 4 four valve) Because of their size and neatness these cars soon developed an image and popularity, and gave them an unrivalled charisma in the sport. They looked like giant killers, and from time to time they were! These were the cars which great drivers, like Bjorn Waldegard, accustomed to the biggest and most powerful cars used in rallying, would happily drive.
"The original Corolla Levins were very nice cars. There was no real reason why this should be, because they had no unusual specification available,” Andersson recalled.
“They were really not very different from the Ford Escorts which, in those days, were considered to be the archetypal go-everywhere rally car. The comparison with the Escort was never entirely fair, because about the time the Levin with its 1600 engine came along, the Escort was moving up through 1800cc to two litres.

Toyota Team Europe boss Ove Andersson (right) and star driver Didier Auriol.

“Nevertheless, the concept was the same just in smaller scale. To think that Hannu Mikkola could win the 1000 Lakes Rally in 1975 with a 1600cc engine when the opposition had then moved onwards and upwards showed just how good the car was. That really said everything about the car! It was an extremely easy car to drive. "Obviously we at TTE had, meanwhile, been watching the development of the cars used by rival teams and wanted to rally the car with a 2-litre engine. We actually prepared a 2-litre version which was used on national events like in Britain, but the company did not want to homologate the car with a bigger engine, because that meant having to make a production version like that. “In my mind, there is no doubt. If the Levin had been used in international events with a 2-litre engine, it would have been absolutely unbeatable."

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Ove Andersson / Arne Hertz, Toyota Celica TA22. 1976 RAC Rally. Photo: Martin Holmes

2. (two-valve) and 3. (four-valve) Celica TA22, RA20, RA40 Debut: TA22 RAC 1972, Andersson (Group 2, two valve) Debut: RA20 Portugal 1976, Andersson (Group 4, four valve) Debut: RA40 two-valve Group 2, 1000 Lakes 1978, Rainio + Saaristo Debut: RA40 four-valve Group 4, RAC 1979, Rainio Debut: RA45 two-valve Group 4, Bandama 1979, Andersson + Therier The interrelation of the early Celicas was so complex it is easier to speak of them all together. At the same time (1975/1976) that the Corolla was being campaigned, TTE were also running rallies with Celicas. It was part of the philosphy of Toyota to use rallying to enhance the sport image of the Celica range, and cars from the Celica range were used in official rally competition from 1972 right through to 1995. The two types of Celica discussed here differed in the styling, engine size and number of valves. The mechanicals were developed in a progressive way, not in relation to the bodywork into which they were fitted.

Ove Andersson and Henry Liddon drive the Celica RA20 on the 1976 Rally of Portugal. Photo: Martin Holmes

When the vehicle regulations stopped teams using basically Group 2 cars with multi-valve engines in the Group 4 specification at the end of 1977, TTE reverted to using two-valve engines and running the cars in Group 2 rules.
The RA45 was only designed to enter one rally, and featured a lift-back rear bodywork. Multi-valve Celicas did not come until 1976 in the RA20 model. The TA cars were 1600, the RAS were 2-litre.
"When Toyota asked me to drive a Celica on the 1972 RAC Rally, I did not even know what a Celica was. I went to Japan to get acquainted. The car was nice to drive, but in its initial form it was hopeless, there was no chance for this to challenge the existing cars in the sport,” Andersson said.

Tapio Rainio was 6th outright and 1st in Group 2 on the 1978 1000 Lakes Rally in his Celica RA40. Photo: Martin Holmes

“The engine was only a 1600cc unit with an eight-valve engine, although the winning cars in those days, like the Escorts, had 16-valve, 2-litre engines. When Hannu did the 1976 RAC in a four-valve Celica 2-litre, it was the first time we could claim having a rally car with a really competitive specification. “This was a very good engine, but there was a bad problem with the weight balance of the car. The engine was quite heavy and it was mounted a long way forward in the chassis. That apart, the car was very good. With this car Hannu was leading in Greece and finished second in the RAC behind Bjorn Waldegard in an Escort. "At this time, TTE was not equipped to iron out the technical problems and develop the car in the way that it should be. We had a lot of technical troubles, and if these could have been overcome these cars would have been very successful. They did a good job in keeping up with the 2-litre Escorts.
“In those days the Escorts, and later the Fiat Abarth 131s, were the yardsticks by which you measured orthodox rally cars’ capability."

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Bjorn Waldegard won the the 1982 Motogard Rally in New Zealand in the Group 4 Celica RA63. Photo: Martin Holmes

4. Celica RA63 Group 4 Debut: 1982 New Zealand, Waldegard and Eklund This car used the squarer style bodywork, and what a shock it created at the time. Far away in New Zealand, the RA63 finished a World Championship rally in first and second place overall! It had been seven years since Toyota had its previous world rally win, the first win for a Celica, always considered the unluckiest car in rallying. But the biggest shock was the degree of sophistication in the construction of the car. This was the work of the specialist engineer Allan Wilkinson. The major surprise was the way the bodywork of the car was effectively shifted forward in relation to the running gear.
"Yes, Allan 'Wikinson, the chief rally engineer at TTE at that time, used the technical rules to the maximum to get the best possible balance of the car.
“When the weight balance is better you then get better traction and that was the reason for all the work. It was the same with all the front-engined, rear-drive cars at that time. You didn't have enough weight in the rear. “With everything you did, you were trying to move weight to the rear in order to get the traction. New Zealand was the major success for this model, but we also used the car in the Ivory Coast and the RAC Rally, always in the same basic and bold specification."

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The Group B Twin Cam Turbo, or TA64, was affectionately known as "The Whistling Pig". Bjorn Waldegard, 1984 Safari Rally. Photo: Martin Holmes

5. Celica Twin Cam Turbo. TA64 Group B Debut: 1000 Lakes 1983, Kankkunen and Waldegard
This car represented a breakthrough in the fortunes of TTE. Not only did it bring new levels of technology and the basic concept involved, but it created a new winning spirit in the team.
Although often used in Europe, this was historically the Car of Africa. It brought a string of victories for Toyota in Kenya and Ivory Coast, places where one might imagine the heat and stresses under the bonnet, not to mention the technological complexity, would be most unwelcome. "Apart from the addition of the turbocharger and its ancillary equipment, there wasn't anything particularly different between the Twin Cam Turbo and the RA63, though the basic engine was in fact an eight-valve unit,” says Andersson. “It was the first time TTE had rallied turbocharged cars, but more significant than that, this was the first time we had rallied a car with electronic fuel injection. For everyone in the team this was a challenge! Nobody really understood the systems involved. Things had been relatively straightforward with normal mechanical carburettors! "If I am allowed to take just one car from the TTE range into the next life, it would have to be the Twin Cam Turbo. That was the model which really made the team. Our successes in Africa are what made our team what it is today.”

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Bjorn Waldegard drove the 3-litre Supra to sixth place on the 1987 Olympus Rally. Photo: Martin Holmes

6. Supra 3.0i and Supra Turbo MA70 (Group A) Debut: Group A 1987 Safari Torph, Ulyate and Waldegard Debut: Group A Supra Turbo 1987 Ivory Coast Torph + Waldegard These six cylinder in-line engined cars were introduced as a stop gap, to keep the team active, which was suddenly unable, through reasons of an unexpected regulation change, from continuing with the car that had been running for four years. It was the only car rallied by TTE with anything other than a four-cylinder engine. The normally aspirated and the turbo versions were prepared at the same time, the latter fitted only with a standard intercooler and therefore only marginally more powerful. "The trouble was that the Celica Twin Cam Turbo (the car we used to call the 'Whistling Pig') was a Group B car, and could not be used after the end of 1986, even though by that time it was a very basic design concept,” Ove Andersson said. “Sure, TTE had already built a purpose designed four-wheel drive mid-engined Group B prototype car in the current Supercar image, and this was more or less ready to go into production and therefore homologation. “Then Henri Toivonen's accident happened and Group B was stopped, so after the end of 1986 the car we assumed we could continue with in the meantime (the Twin Cam Turbo) wasn't available. “Suddenly TTE was left with nothing to rally and the Safari was coming up fast! The Supra was chosen because it was the only car with any possibility of providing the performance needed for competition, but was only intended as a stopgap until the chance occurred to run a full four-wheel drive Group A car. “These cars were already being planned and were in pre-production test car form, but not yet ready for entering competition."

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Juha Kankkunen won the inaugural Rally Australia in 1989 driving the Celica ST165. Photo: Martin Holmes

7. Celica GT-Four ST165 (Group A) Debut: 1988 Corsica Eriksson + Kankkunen This was the first Toyota four-wheel drive rally car. From its debut at the Tour de Corse in 1988 it took a season and half before it became a winner, in Australia in 1989. "The first time this car appeared was the Tour de Corse in 1988 and already on its second outing it was leading the Acropolis. Everything about the car, and especially the four-wheel drive system, was new. We had a lot of mechanical problems to sort out. “From Australia 1989 onwards the car was quite okay. It may have seemed a long time to get going, but bear in my mind a year was not an unreasonable period of time to make such a car work. “The main problem was the type of power train we were using. This was quite a new concept. It was the first transmission that Xtrac had made for rallying in that configuration, with a hydraulic clutch pack system that everyone uses today (in 1999). It was way ahead of its time, but we had a lot of trouble with the support of the gears inside the unit. “It was a long time before all the bearings and the necessary lubrication were mounted in the right places, and before the hydraulic pressure pumps stopped giving us trouble. We started off using the same power steering pumps that were designed for the gearbox, and we soon realised that they had to run independently. “The hydraulic seals gave a lot of trouble. As a first step towards better rear differential control we used a hang-on clutch system, which was a free wheel system for the rear differential. This was not the standby system while we persevered with the clutch pack unit that people imagined. “The 'hoc' was designed to regulate to a greater degree the movement of torque at the rear end of the system. That was no innovation. The innovation was the clutch pack central differential which controlled the torque between front and rear axles. “I think the ST165 must be the best car in its day that TTE ever rallied. In its day the Lancia and the Mazda were the main rivals and the ST165 was better than the opposition. “By this yardstick the ST165 was probably the best car we have ever had. In terms of speed, the ST165 was quite superior. I think it took Lancia a lot of effort to evolve a car able to beat the ST165!"

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Toyotas in the 1990s, like the Celica ST185, featured a striking Castrol colour scheme. Photo: Martin Holmes

8. Celica Turbo 4WD ST185 (Group A) Debut: 1992 Monte Carlo Sainz, Alen + Schwarz This model externally had a more rounded bodywork. Internally there were bigger wheels, lighter bodyweight aimed at improved balance and the engine incorporated a twin entry turbo inlet system, aimed at providing better turbo response and better low speed performance. “In competition form it was a car in which a lot of work was taken in developing controlled transmission. The rally car used special equipment sold to the public on a homologation special version called the ‘Carlos Sainz Limited Edition’. It was also the first time TTE had seriously used wind tunnel work in the design of the car. Andersson: "The main change after the ST165 was the bigger turbocharger and better intercooling systems. The basic engine and transmission systems were the same as the ST165."

Toyota's team line up before the 1993 Safari Rally in Kenya. Photo: Martin Holmes

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The Celica ST205 had a checkered life, and eventually saw TTE banned from the WRC for 12 months. Photo: Martin Holmes

9. Celica GT-Four ST205 (Group A) Debut: 1994 Australia Kankkunen The 205 included various extra special equipment that was needed for competition and which had to be built into production cars for homologation reasons, notably even bigger wheels (16 inch now standard) and water injection for the engine. It featured a bold rear wing design as well. This is the car which brought disgrace to the team when the FIA found incorrectly modified turbochargers during the Catalunya Rally. This incident led to a one-year exclusion from official participation in the World Rally Championship in 1996, although some selected events were entered for development purposes to test equipment being designed for the Corolla World Rally Car, for when the team would be allowed (in 1997) to return to the championship. It was a car which emphasised the growing pace of development of the opposition, and the increased difficulty for the team to be competitive. It is a car the team never speaks much about, for these reasons... "This car was very big with long body overhangs. In the end it offered no major advantage over the ST185 as a competition car," Andersson stated.

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The pretty Corolla World Rally Car was Toyota's last WRC car, until the Yaris debuted in 2017.

10. Corolla World Rally Car (Group A/WRC) Debut: 1997 1000 Lakes Auriol and Gronholm It was the first WRC car to be based on a completely new model of car, rather than an existing model. It featured small size and the FIA granted permission for Toyota to initially use the proven turbocharged engine from the Celica GT-Four, modified as allowed under WRC rules. Transmission development started conservatively, but by the start of 1999 fully active systemd were used. A completely new model of engine was first used during the 1999 season. After only a little more than two seasons, the official programme for the Corolla WRCar came to an end when the team decided to leave rallying altogether. "This, finally, was the car that I had wanted to use in rallying for more than 20 years! It was so nice that finally the rules made it possible for us to build a car that combined the compactness with the equipment in the right specification. “It is difficult to say to what extent the Corolla WRC is the best car of its day for us. Nowadays the sport is very competitive, we are up against much stiffer opposition, and these days we are not depending for success so much on the basic format of the production car."

Related news:

https://rallysportmag.com/hidden-gem-toyota-motorsport-secret-museum/ https://rallysportmag.com/then-now-memories-of-toyotas-darkest-hour-in-the-wrc/  
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