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Deep in the bowels of Toyota Motorsport in suburban Cologne, Germany, lies a treasure chest of cars that most motorsport fans would give their right arm to walk amongst and touch. RallySport Magazine’s Peter Whitten was like a kid in a lolly shop as he lapped up the Toyota goodness. My work for motorcycle parts manufacturer, Touratech, led me to Germany in late September and early October, for a distributor’s conference and a visit to the bi-annual Intermot motorcycle show – the largest in Europe. Given that Intermot is held in Cologne, the European home of Toyota, a visit to Toyota Motorsport seemed like too good an opportunity to miss out on. With my German language skills limited to Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes and Guten Tag, I bumbled my way from central Cologne to Marsdorf, the suburb where Toyota Motorsport resides. A short walk from the train station had me in ‘Toyota Allee’, and I was soon at the security gate for Toyota Motorsport, where I met up with my guide, Robin D’Alquen. A friendly guy with six months experience on the job, Robin was nearly as excited as I was to be heading into the museum – not only to get out of the office for an hour or so, but to walk through Toyota’s motorsport history. With security cleared, Robin led me through office complexes and corridors until, eventually, we reached a set of big double doors that are usually off limits. TTE-Corolla-and-CelicaA Corolla World Rally Car and Safari-spec Celica GT-Four.When the doors opened and the lights went on, I’m certain my heart skipped a beat. There, before my very eyes, were some of the fastest cars ever built, worth literally millions and millions of dollars, if you could put a value on them. But while most museum pieces are behind glass or annoying barriers and ropes, the vast array of rally, Formula 1 and LeMans cars sit unobstructed, and ready to be admired. Toyota-Formula-1-carsToyota's motorsport museum is perhaps the most unique setting in the world.This is a museum like no other. Situated on the ground floor, it is, for all intents and purposes, the basement of the building. The roof is a mix and match of ducting, water pipes and electrical wiring, and concrete pillars make the floor area a real jigsaw. When the adjacent wind tunnel (which I didn't get to see) suddenly, and unexpectedly, turns on, the noise is almost deafening and gives you quite a fright. However, it’s all these features that make it so unique, and all the more surprising that some of the world’s most technologically advanced cars grace the floor. Robin had been in here a few times before, and while he looked at the cars himself, he was happy to let me take my time, photograph what I wanted, and sit in the cars that have made Toyota one of the most respected brands in motorsport. Eleven Formula 1 cars, four Sportscars, seven rally cars and a few ‘other’ Toyota specials sat before me. Before I’d arrived at the museum it was the Group B Celica Twin Cam Turbo (TA64) that I was most looking forward to seeing. I saw the car in action in the 1984 Rally of New Zealand, and seeing it again brought back a lot of memories. Sitting behind the steering wheel was a surreal feeling. Toyota-Celica-ST185-Carlos-SainzCarlos Sainz' beautiful Toyota Celica ST165 from the early 1990s.However, it was Carlos Sainz’s gorgeous Group A Celica ST165 that I kept being drawn back to. Sitting in its tarmac-spec Tour de Corse livery, the car looked fast just sitting there. It was one of the best sounding rally cars ever, and was the car that took the Spaniard to two World Rally Championship titles. It was also the car that Sainz spectacularly crashed three times in the 1991 Rally Australia – the final time dramatically when he rolled seven or eight times in the Bunnings plantation. Ove-Andersson-CelicaThis pretty rear-drive Celica was driven by Toyota legend Ove Andersson.There were Corolla World Rally Cars from the late 1990s, and a couple of early Celicas driven by Ove Andersson, the man who would eventually be the head of Toyota Team Europe. Perhaps the most unique car, however, was the mid-80s MR2 that was built for the Group S regulations that never saw the light of day, following the outlawing of Group B. Fitted with a Toyota 503E 2140cc, turbocharged in-line four cylinder, water-cooled 16 valve engine, it reportedly produced 600 horsepower at 8500rpm, with 640 Nm of torque. Painted in jet black, the car looked decidedly beastly, and one wonders just how fast it would have been. For anyone with an eye for Formula 1 history and technology, the museum offers just about all you could wish to see. The manufacturer’s range of F1 machines sit idle (and hanging from the roof), including the car that Toyota never raced – the 2010 model that many in the company believed was going to be their best yet. Group-S-Toyota-MR2The Group S Toyota MR2 was four-wheel drive and produced up to 600 horsepower, although it was never rallied.Despite competing in 140 races and taking 13 podium finishes, Toyota never won a Grand Prix. A World Rally Championship return has long been rumoured, and now appears to be more likely than not in the coming years, although nobody within the Toyota Motorsport complex was giving anything away. I could talk for hours about the cars that appear in the museum, their history, their results and their place in world motorsport folklore, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and I took plenty. •    My thanks to Toyota’s Alastair Moffitt, Robin D’Alquen and Mike Breen for making the tour possible.
Toyota-Hall-of-Fame Toyota-foyer
Memorabilia on desplay in Toyota's Hall of Fame. F1, LeMans and rallying feature in the Toyota foyer.
Group-B-Celica Sainz-Celica-ST185
Toyota's Group B Celica Twin Cam Turbo from the 1980s. In tarmac spec, the ST165 Celica is a real beast.
Toyota-F1 Toyota-Formula-1-cars
Toyota had some podiums in their F1 career, but no wins. The F1 car hanging from the ceiling is one of 11 F1 cars.
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