Driven: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid

Toyota went all out in enhancing the styling of the new Prius Prime | Bob Golfen photos
Toyota went all out in enhancing the styling of the new Prius Prime | Bob Golfen photos

Toyota pulled out all the stops in styling the all-new Prius Prime, creating something that seems like a cross between a space probe and a Lamborghini. That’s a good thing, raising its hipness quotient considerably and making the plug-in hybrid look as high-tech on the outside as it is underneath.

The Prius Prime is new for 2017 and is another effort by Toyota to market a plug-in car with the clean economy of a pure electric vehicle with the practicality of a hybrid. The last go-round for a plug-in Prius resulted in less-than-stellar reviews, most complaining that it seemed like a half-hearted effort that didn’t work all that well. Continue reading

‘Celica for grownups’ is back for Future Classics show

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John Garzas 1977 Toyota Celica GT | John Garza photos

When he was in high school in the mid-1980s, John Garza bought a used 1977 Toyota Celica. By the turn of the century, however, the car had rusted to the point that Garza obtained a replacement. But it would be a decade before Garza got around to that car, which he gave a resto-mod treatment that earned best of show honors last year at ClassicCar.com‘s inaugural Future Classics Car Show.

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Hagerty chart shows biggest losers in classic car depreciation

Hagerty
Hagerty

The Hagerty collector car insurance and valuation company recently released the 31st edition of its closely watched Hagerty Price Guide after a period of ups and downs and mood swings in the classic car market.

Among the results were a number of high-profile cars that have depreciated after several years of climbing in value. Among them, such modern supercars as the Ford GT and the Porsche Carrera GT, as well as vintage favorites such as the Toyota 2000GT and the Ferrari Dino 246 GT. Even some so-called blue-chip collector cars, such as the Mercedes-Benz 300SL, softened slightly. Continue reading

Japanese collector cars making inroads at Monterey auctions

A 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport will be offered at the Gooding auction at Pebble Beach | Gooding & Company
A 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport will be offered at the Gooding auction at Pebble Beach | Gooding & Company

Japanese collector cars are kind of a new thing, with some of them making it into the higher echelons at auctions and private sales, and being included in museum collections. While much of the interest has been spawned by the latest generation of car collectors just coming of age, those special cars of the 1960s and ’70s have taken on a new luster for older enthusiasts.

The limited-production Toyota 2000GT sports coupe, built from 1967-70, has become a solid player among the high rollers, flirting with million-dollar bids at auction. To a lesser extent, the quirky and exotic Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S also has hit the big time, with the limited-edition rotary-powered sports coupes built from 1967-72 typically going well into six figures at auction. Continue reading

Toyota Corolla, the world’s best-selling car, marks 50 years

Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota, in the first Corolla he ever owned | Toyotoa
Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota, in the first Corolla he ever owned | Toyota photos

For classic car enthusiasts, the Toyota Corolla is pretty much invisible, a ubiquitous economy car that’s long on reliability but short on panache. Corolla’s familiarity might have bred contempt, but consider the fact that it is by far the highest-selling automotive nameplate in history.

More than 43 million Toyota Corollas have been sold worldwide since Toyota introduced its basic sedan to the Japanese market in 1966. The company brought Corolla to the United States two years later, where it hit the ground running and has never stopped. During 2015, Toyota sold nearly 1,000 Corollas every day in the United States, about 363,000 in all. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ55

1973 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ55 looks stock, but has performance upgrades
1973 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ55 looks stock, but has performance upgrades

Classic sport utility vehicles have become increasingly popular with the classic car community. They’re even getting their own versions of vintage rallies.

For example, last fall, the organizers of the Copperstate 1000 vintage sports car rally in Arizona launched a new event, the Copperstate Overland. For several days, owners of classic SUVs took their vehicles across the desert and up mountain trails to explore some amazing scenery and spend evenings “glamping” with exotic, chef-prepared meals and nights in tents the likes of which we never saw back in the Boy Scouts.

So as vintage SUVs have become popular, it figures that they would experience all the same updates as other classic vehicles. Thus our Pick of the Day is this resto-mod 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ55. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1977 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser

The 1977 Toyota Land Cruiser sports a fresh coat of red paint and new Bridgestone off-road  tires
The 1977 Toyota Land Cruiser sports a fresh coat of red paint and new Bridgestone off-road tires

Snowed in? Rained out? Mired in mud? No problem. Here’s just the thing for battling your way through another tough winter.

The Pick of the Day is a 1977 Toyota 1977 FJ40 Land Cruiser that is already painted bright red for the Christmas season, equipped with a go-anywhere four-wheel-drive system and a solid reputation for durability. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1979 Toyota Celica Supra

 The Toyota Celica Supra is described as being in all-around good original condition
The Toyota Celica Supra is described as being in all-around good original condition

For too many years, conventional car-guy wisdom determined that Japanese cars would never rise to the level of collectability, and that the late 1970s and ’80s were wastelands of forgettable vehicles.

The Pick of the Day is yet another Japanese car from the era that challenges that mindset: a 1979 Toyota Celica Supra liftback that is a rare survivor of the disco days. And it could have a future as a bona fide classic car. Continue reading

Driven: 2015 Toyota Prius c hybrid

Styling of the subcompact Prius c is more expressive than that of the standard Prius | Bob Golfen photos
Styling of the subcompact Prius c is more expressive than that of the standard Prius | Bob Golfen photos

My favorite form of Toyota’s ubiquitous hybrid car, the Prius c is a subcompact hatchback that delivers sporty handling and a fun driving experience as well as a solid 50 miles per gallon.

For one thing, the styling is more expressive and appealing than the doorstop-shaped standard Prius. The car’s design goes a long way toward making the Prius c feel hipper and less generic. Going green doesn’t have to be humiliating. Continue reading

Driven: 2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium

The Toyota 4Runner retains its tough truck-frame construction | Bob Golfen photos
The Toyota 4Runner retains its tough truck-frame construction | Bob Golfen photos

Nearly every SUV these days is a crossover, recognition of the fact that while many people want to ride tall in the saddle and have lots of room for people and stuff, they also want a vehicle that drives like a passenger car. Thus, stylish wagons that look sort of like trucks but are built on the unibody underpinnings of cars. Continue reading