Making our fleet of retro-tastic Toyota GT86 race replicas

Toyota’s presence at the 2015 Goodwood Moving Motor Show is a tantalising mix of old and new – a sextuplet of the latest Toyota GT86 coupes modified to resemble key cars from our illustrious motorsport heritage.

You can find out more about the heritage behind the liveries by clicking on the links below.

Yatabe Speed Trial Toyota 2000GT
Shelby Toyota 2000GT
Ove Andersson’s Toyota Celica 1600GT
IMSA GTU Toyota Celica
Castrol Toyota Celica GT-Four
Esso Ultron Tiger Toyota Supra

However, here, we reveal the modifying process and the aftermarket components used in their construction.

GT86 group 01

Each of the six Toyota GT86 models featured visually arresting livery created and applied by the vinyl graphic specialists at Motor Mode UK. Careful reference was made to archive material to ensure that all the shapes, colours and logos of the original designs were replicated as closely as possible around the GT86 silhouette.

Five of the six cars featured vinyl graphics laid over factory body colours, while the Esso Ultron Tiger model required a full vehicle wrap to achieve the correct orange base.

GT86 build 09

Under the skin, we decided that the GT86s should share aftermarket suspension and exhaust components. With regards to the latter, we wanted the cars to sound as evocative as they looked. So we turned to exhaust manufacturer Milltek Sport to supply us with fruity cat-back exhaust systems to replace the standard pipework.

GT86 build 03

Beautifully constructed in mandrel-bent stainless steel, the Milltek Sport system deletes the primary in-line silencer that nestles within the transmission tunnel and further optimises flow by directing the pipework into the centre of the main silencer rather than around into the side (see comparison images below). In so doing this opens the possibility of simplifying the overall appearance of the system and improving the way exhaust gas is ushered towards each tailpipe. This is achieved by hiding a perforated Y-shaped separator inside the main silencer so that exhaust noise is dampened without the gases losing momentum or direction.

GT86 build 01

Fitment was straightforward thanks to Milltek Sport adopting all standard location points and rubber hangers. Plenty of adjustment was also available within the exit branches, which proved useful when fine-tuning the position of the tailpipes within the slightly different rear bumper of the GT86 TRD model we used for the Castrol rally replica.

GT86 build 02

A lower ride height was essential in adding a dramatic edge to our cars and to properly frame the aggressive new wheel designs we would be fitting.

We didn’t require a belly-scraping stance, so there was no need to specify expensive, height adjustable coilover units. Instead, we opted to fit progressive rate V-Maxx lowering springs designed to work alongside the original dampers. Two versions are available for the GT86, offering either a 30 or 40mm suspension drop on both axles. We chose the lower option.

GT86 build 04

Supplied by The Performance Company, V-Maxx Sportsprings have a solid reputation within the tuning community, founded on TüV-approved construction and favourable spring rates that strike a favourable balance between sporty handling and ride comfort.

GT86 build 06

Installation of the springs required the removal and disassembly of the original struts. Caution has to be exercised when taking the struts apart as the coils are held under compression and will violently launch free if not held tight in a special spring vice.

The same care needs to be taken as the struts are reassembled. Once again, fitment was superb, with the coil ends lining up perfectly with the hollows formed into the spring cup seats.

Wheel combo

Just as the vinyl graphics set each car apart, the same is true of the new alloy wheels. Our aim was to faithfully replicate the designs of the wheels fitted to each heritage racer, though this had the potential to be the hardest element of the whole project.

Most alloy wheel manufacturers concentrate on contemporary designs, but we knew of one particular manufacturer that has become a mainstay of the aftermarket by dividing its rolling artistry between cutting-edge, retro-inspired and motorsport designs – Rota Wheels. So we challenged UK importer Rare Rims to see if it could source wheels of the right design, size, offset and stud pattern to suit the GT86 and closely match those seen in the archive images we supplied.

GT86 build 07

We were stunned by what they came back with – a cherry-picked selection of 17″ and 18″ diameter wheels that were a closer match to the originals than we could have possibly hoped.

Rare Rims had even managed to convince Rota Wheels to produce two sets of the brand new TOSCA-inspired Rota Retro 2 design (see above) for us in different finishes in advance of their official launch. Hats off to all concerned!

GT86 build 08

The wheel specifications we agreed upon were much more aggressive than the standard items in order to fill out the GT86s’ cavernous arches. Nevertheless, the measurements of both wheels and tyres had to be very carefully chosen so that the rolling circumference remained the same as standard and that no remedial arch work would be necessary to make the new rolling stock fit. Please follow the links at the beginning of this post to see the exact specifications for each vehicle.

With new suspension and wheels now installed, the only thing remaining was to restore the geometry to within factory tolerances for straight-line stability and even tyre wear. After this was complete, the cars were then ready for their group photoshoot and for their first public appearances at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

GT86 build 10

GT86 build 11


  1. This project is superb. Great coverage and write up too! Well done to all concerned, and a truly imaginative undertaking!

  2. Car #33 was driven by Scooter Patrick, and had a red hood. The blue and white car was #23, driven by Carroll Shelby.

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