Every year the prior-year’s winning team brings a convertible to Le Mans to haul the big trophy around the track. Toyota, having won last June, has kept the trophy in good condition during their tenure as guardian, and brought a totally rad car to France to serve as the trophy’s truck. It’s a gorgeous 1987 Celica, it’s my new best friend, and I love it.
As @DannyFChen says in this tweet above, Toyota had intended to bring the one-off convertible as used in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, but didn’t want to risk the car getting wet, because it always rains at Le Mans.
The problem here is that Toyota hasn’t made all that many convertibles in their time as an automaker, and certainly fewer convertible sports cars. Sure, there have been Targa-roof Supras, but that’s not quite the same thing, and certainly the most recent Solara Convertible wouldn’t be very well at home at Le Mans.
The Celica, a gorgeous ST162 convertible, is owned by someone who works at Toyota Germany, and it absolutely rules in every way, shape, and form.
Toyota have to give back the trophy during the race, but if things continue the way they have been, the Japanese automaker will be taking the thing back home with them anyway. I hope that means this Celica returns to Le Mans next year, too!
Update Sunday June 16, 8:10 AM ET: Overnight Danny Chen of Toyota Gazoo Racing reached out to me with the intent to provide more of the story and some additional behind the scenes photos.
First, a clarification. The car actually belongs as a permanent exhibit within the Toyota Collection, a museum run by Toyota Deutschland. Danny wants everyone to know that the Toyota Collection is on the company campus and is regularly open to public viewing. If you want to get up close and personal with this trophy hauling Celica, one only need go to Germany.
Here are some more photographs, including the bespoke trophy holding apparatus, and the process of unloading the trophy from its box to be then loaded onto the 1980s personal sports drop top.
The following photos provided by Toyota Gazoo Racing: