Category: ‘Rallying’

Here’s the 2015 Toyota RAV4 Rally Car

Posted by Stephen On Friday, May 8th, 2015

2015 Toyota RAV4 Rally Car

Toyota has an innovative new rally racer that they will bring to several rally competitions later this year. It’s a tuned up 2015 Toyota RAV4 LE, pictured here in full racing form.

The Japanese automaker unveiled their high-performance rally RAV4 this weekend at the Monster Energy Supercross Championship finale, which took place at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Obviously, it’s not every day that you see a commercial crossover competing in pro-level races like the Idaho Rally or the Mt. Hood Rally. Toyota plans to bring their RAV4 to several of the races in the 2015 Rally America season in the 2WD-Open Class.

Ryan Millin & RAV4

The modified 2015 Toyota RAV4 LE will be driven by Ryan Millen – a seasoned Toyota racer in his own right. He recently won the 2014 Baja 1000 driving a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro series, and he has high hopes for the RAV4. “I’ve driven just about everything Toyota has to offer,” he said. “And I’ve been very impressed with the RAV4 is tight, compact body and smooth handling. I’m looking forward to putting it through the paces this season.”

What kind of modifications has Toyota made to transform their commercial RAV4 into a rally-ready machine?

One thing they did NOT change is the engine… The RAV4 rally car runs on the same stock powertrain in the normal RAV4 LE, which is a 2.5L inline four-cylinder engine. It outputs 176 hp and just 172 lb-ft of torque, and the engine is fitted to the LE’s stock transmission. So, how will the RAV4 hope to compete?

Ryan Millen & RAV4 profile

Millen’s crew stripped over 500 lbs off the small crossover to make it a much more agile vehicle. They added a roll cage and fitted the wheels with BFGoodrich all-terrain DOT 215/75R15 tires. They also upgraded the unpderpinnings with a front and rear TEIN suspension.

You may be asking why Toyota would care about getting their RAV4 crossover into the motorsports spotlight; we certainly were. Turns out, they’ve got something to prove. The press release makes it clear they’re tired of the RAV4 being known “only” for its immense practicality and superiority to its “more-cumbersome” SUV brethren. Now, they want everyone to know that the RAV4’s “lighter and leaner design” makes it the perfect car for anyone who regularly makes “desert, beach and other outdoor excursions.”

Okay, Toyota, we get it. The RAV4 is an off-road vehicle. Let’s see what it can do.

Infiniti SYNAPTIQ & Q80 Inspiration Concepts Shown in LA

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

This week we’re continuing our coverage of the 2014 LA auto show. Today, we’re going to focus on Infiniti by examining both of the concepts they brought to this year’s LA event. Then we’ll finish off with another piece of Infiniti news we hadn’t expected to hear.

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept

We’d already seen this concept’s world debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show last month, but this was the concept’s US debut. We’re talking about it again here because it’s such a cool car that it’s impossible to talk too much about it.

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept LA

As Infiniti’s first-ever premium saloon, they went all-out on an incredibly eye-catching design both inside and out. Distinguishing features include the panoramic glass roof and the sleek, aerodynamic chrome and silver color scheme. And that huge front grille does more than just catch your eye – it can open at low speeds to cool the engine and close at high speeds to minimize drag.

Inside, Infiniti went the extra mile to maximize the comfort of each of up to four passengers. Both of the rear passengers get their own touchscreen, and all passengers get individual reclining armchairs. There’s even a built-in champagne bottle holder in the backseat! Materials-wise, the cabin is luxuriously fitted with quilted leather and Alcantara, along with more accent lighting than you can shake a stick at.

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept Interior LA

As we learned in Paris, the Q80 Inspiration boasts an all-new high-performance hybrid powertrain that can simultaneously pull off 150+ miles per hour and 43 miles per gallon. Power comes from a twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 paired with an electric motor that, together, outputs a jaw-dropping 550hp.

The fact that they’re showing the Q80 Inspiration again makes that much more hopeful that it will eventually see production in some form.

Infiniti SYNAPTIQ Concept

2014 Infiniti SYNAPTIQ Concept

For the past 11 years, automakers coming to LA have been invited to contribute futuristic design concepts to the annual LA Auto Show Design Challenge. This year, Infiniti really wowed us with their SYNAPTIQ Concept. This year’s theme was, “Sensing the Future: How Will Cars Interact with Us in 2029?”

The SYNAPTIQ Concept was Infiniti Design San Diego’s contribution to the challenge, and their overarching theme was modular human-to-vehicle interaction. In fact, they invented an entire back story to support the car’s design…

In the year 2029, the SYNAPTIQ will compete in the A.R.C. race, which stands for Air Rally Circuit, demanding drivers to travel across the country over land and air in a triathlon-esque motor race. You can see a visual representation of the race below:

2014 Infiniti SYNPATIQ Multi-form Concept

The SYNAPTIQ will be capable of transforming from racecar to rally car to airplane, all through a SYNAPTIQ S.U.I.T. (Symbiotic User Interface Technology) which essentially taps into the driver’s spine and “connects the driver’s thoughts” to the vehicle. So, the idea is that you can use your thoughts to control the vehicle and to control what information is displayed on the virtual-reality liquid crystal interface that the driver is encased in.

2014 Infiniti SYNPATIQ Suit

Pretty crazy, right?

Even though it’s unrealistic even for 2029, it’s still a really cool concept that we hope Infiniti keeps tucked away for future reference.

Infiniti Q60 Confirmation

2015 Infiniti Q60

The last big piece of news to come out of the LA Auto Show is a confirmation that the Infiniti Q60 will be the first new vehicle coming to us in 2015. Infiniti tells us that we’ll see a preproduction concept in Detroit early next year, which means the car will likely go on sale by the end of Q2 2015.

Unfortunately, that’s about all we know for right now, so stay tuned for further updates as 2014 draws to a close. Otherwise, come back tomorrow for more LA Auto Show news!

The Toyota Sleeper Camry is SEMA’s Most Memorable Car

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

2015 Toyota Camry Sleeper

Imagine this: you’re waiting around in the Central Hall at the SEMA show waiting for what you think will be a showing of a lightly modified 2015 Toyota Camry, like the one above. Suddenly, a loud rev cuts through the air, and a hydraulic pump lifts the conventional sedan’s body to reveal…

2015 Toyota Sleeper Camry Drag Car

Who could have guessed that the most extreme build Toyota has ever unveiled at SEMA would come in the body of a Toyota Camry? Believe it or not, that’s exactly what they did with their Toyota Sleeper Camry, a jaw-droppingly fast drag racer hidden under the body of a family sedan.

We’d already covered every other car that Toyota showcased at this year’s SEMA show, but there was one missing from the promised 15 concepts we were told to expect. This is that car, and Toyota held off unveiling it until the event was more than halfway over.

Toyota’s Motorsports Technical Center Director, Chuck Wade, described what they were going for with this secretive racer. “This Camry is the ultimate sleeper – it definitely has the element of surprise on its side and more than enough muscle to drop the hammer on any unsuspecting car that pulls up.”

Exactly how much muscle is the Sleeper Camry hiding?

According to Toyota, the drag car can travel a quarter of a mile from a dead stop in 9.80 seconds.


Underneath the shell of a normal 2015 Camry, Toyota’s Tech. Center built the car with the Tundra’s 5.7L V8 engine, transmission and rear axle, plus the truck’s electronics. Then, Toyota fitted the V8 with a TRD supercharger and a wet nitrous system, and topped the build off with rugged DOT 335/30/18 drag tires from Goodyear.

Even though it’s hard to tell from the picture, the Camry body that fits of the race car chassis is actually functional – you can open the front doors to get in and out of the sedan just like normal. However, the inside is completely stripped down other than a single bucket seat, driver controls and a gauge display.

All in all, this is definitely the car we’ll most remember from the 2014 SEMA event, and we’re glad to see that Toyota still has a sense of humor.

2014 Toyota Camry for Auction

2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Even though you’ll likely never get to drive Toyota’s Sleeper Camry, the regular Camry is still a great-looking car with a lot to offer most buyers.

Today’s auction find is a 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid G Package in top-notch shape. This family-sized sedan runs on a hybrid powertrain (see the blue Toyota logo?) with a 2.5L Atkinson cycle engine that outputs about 154hp and 153 lb-ft of torque on its own. As you can see below, the exterior is clean and the interior is spacious and well-kept.

2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid interior

With less than 500 miles on the odometer, it’s not too surprising that this auction find has an overall S grade (literally shinsha, or “new car”) and A-grade interior. Keep reading below the auction sheet for a full rundown on this find.

2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid auction sheet

“Grade S, interior A, exterior A, first registered May 2014, Hybrid G Package model, original navigation system and TV, FAT, AAC, 495KM, power steering, power windows, original AWs, ABS, airbag, original navigation system, original TV, marks as per map”

Japanese Car Auction Finds: Lancia Delta Evolution II (1994)

Posted by Stephen On Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Having written a little about Group B rallying yesterday, I spotted this Lancia Delta Evolution II in the auction. The Delta came along right at the end of the Group B period, and is another classic of the genre.

This Lancia Delta Evolution II is in excellent condition. A grading of 4.5 is pretty much the best you could hope for at this age, and it has 81k KM on the odometer. The only things wrong with this car are literally minor dents and scratches and some minor wear on the seats. I expect the sale price on a car like this to be around 1 million Yen, maybe more given the very clean condition.

Lancia Delta Evolution II 1994 in the car auciton in Japan - front

Lancia Delta Evolution II 1994 in the car auction in Japan - rear

Lancia Delta Evolution II 1994 at car auction in Japan - auction sheet

(c) Integrity Exports Co. Ltd. – Japan car auction buyer and exporter.

Car Auction Finds: 1986 Ford RS200 Evolution

Posted by Stephen On Friday, February 18th, 2011

This pristine white RS200 Evolution is one of only 24 made for the Group B rallying scene in the 1980s. With 420+ horsepower, this car held the record for the fastest accelerating car (3 seconds dead to 60) for 12 years. That is still exceptionally fast today, with only cars like the latest iteration of the Nissan GT-R, the 911 Turbo S and the new McLaren MP4-12C able to equal its sprinting ability.

I remember the RS200 dueling with the Audi Quattros and Metro 6R4s when I was first into rallying during this Group B era. The WRC has evolved a lot since then and is now quite a different format, so I don’t think it is completely fair to compare the modern sport with this period, but (apart from the spectator accidents) I think it is reasonable to say that this was the golden age of rally driving – and this car was one of the stars.

Ford RS200 Evolution 1986 model at auction