Next week, the New York International Auto Show rolls into a little town called, conveniently, New York. It promises thousands of square feet filled with brand-new cars, one-off concepts, and huge swaths of EV “manufacturers” that no one’s ever seen before trying to pass themselves off as real companies. This year, however, there’s an interesting twist: The 2022 Toyota GR Corolla is coming to New York.
We’re going to steal it. Here’s how.
The reasons for stealing the GR Corolla are simple: It rules, and everyone on the staff wants it. We’ve already worked out an internal sharing calendar, where various Jalops can call dibs on ownership for different days. It will be stored in a secure, remote location, but so far no one’s complained about having to drive it back to their place.
For the actual heist, however, there’s one crucial piece of information missing: We don’t know where the Corolla will actually be within the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Based on the already-released floor plans, there are two possible places Toyota could put the Corolla. That means we need two heist plans.
Out of the two Toyota locations for the show, I’m willing to bet the GR Corolla is more likely to end up in the Javits Center’s Crystal Palace. You can see it in the bottom-left of the floor plan, a massive, transparent assemblage of glass and scaffolding that could perfectly demonstrate each curve of the Corolla to show-goers. It could also make for a perfectly simple heist.
The Crystal Palace, conveniently, opens directly to the outside world. It has two front entrances, one of which is already level with 11th Avenue outside. Our media passes will grant us entry, and Andy Kalmowitz’s travel-induced sleep deprivation on the second press day will act as our diversion. He’ll engage the Toyota reps in conversation, then fake passing out (or maybe actually pass out, he will be running on very little sleep) thus distracting anyone who would be securing the car. Erik will start to part the crowds, and then the fun begins.
Getting the Corolla from its stand to the door will be the easy part. It’s entirely possible the car will already have a bit of fuel in the tank, left over from the donuts it performed during its Long Beach debut. If not, sneaking in a small jerry can through the rear loading dock should be trivial — at least compared to what’s to come.
So we have a car inside, a road outside, and precious few feet between them. The problem is what’s in those feet: A number of obstacles specifically meant to keep cars out, but that will also serve to keep the GR Corolla in. First is the doors themselves, which are a fairly simple matter. They each appear to be a standard 64"-wide double door, but the bars separating them aren’t integral to the structure of the Crystal Palace. Small explosive charges placed at the top and bottom of just one door divider will clear a path for us to escape the building aboard the Corolla, where we’ll face our next challenge: Planters.
See those nice, shiny plant beds out front of the Crystal Palace? Those are mounted to the ground, meant to stop cars from careening into all the glass, steel, and people. Unfortunately, they’ll also stop our car from careening out, but there’s a simple solution: We move the planter. With a city bus. I can explain, but it’ll take some math.
Those planters are just over double the width of a standard traffic barrel, meaning they’re likely similar to these 60" concrete planter barriers just wrapped in metal. Those weigh 3,470 lbs, which we’ll round up to an even 3,500 to account for dirt and plants. If the base is concrete, uncovered by metal, we’re looking at a coefficient of friction with the sidewalk of 0.80 on a dry day. So, how much force do we need to drag a planter out of the way?
This is, admittedly, a lot of force. Never fear, though: I have a plan. A New York City hybrid bus is capable of producing 4,979 ft-lbs of torque from a dead stop. Sure, that isn’t close to what we need, but remember that we’re converting torque to force — we need to deal with everything between the motor and the ground.
That starts with a gearbox, and a 4.75:1 reduction ratio. Then there’s the differential, which is difficult to source for this exact system but buses on average seem to hang around the 5:1 mark. Now we’re up to 118,251.25 ft-lbs of torque, more than enough to carry our single bollard to freedom.
But wait, there’s more: To eliminate traction from the equation, Owen and I will be chocking the front wheels of the bus and using its rear axle as a sort of impromptu winch. By wrapping our cable around the axle, rather than the wheels, our force is multiples up to 709,506 pounds of force. I’d say that’s enough.
All we need to do is wait for a bus to stop at the nearby red light, circle the bollard with a 1 1/8" thick steel cable, and mount the other end to the bus’s rear axle. Once it pulls the bollard out of the way, I pop the explosives in the doorframe and Raph drives the GR Corolla to freedom. Simple as.
This is where it gets difficult. The Crystal Palace is at ground level, making it easy for our group to pilot the Corolla straight out the front door. But Toyota’s other display, dead center of the Javits Center’s third floor (which is really one story off the ground) is trickier. It’s surrounded by security, physically elevated from nearby streets, and will likely be swarmed with other automotive journalists. It’s almost impenetrable.
The GR Corolla will be located somewhere in this area, centered above the building’s middle entrance. Upon seeing the layout, Resident Brit Owen Bellwood suggested an airport catering van, the kind that raises up to meet a plane at the gate. It’s a good concept, but too slow — security would swarm us before the car hit the ground. No, we need something faster — like gravity.
Currently, there’s a 2016 Cottrell 7 car trailer listed on eBay. Its general shape, flat at the top but sloping downward along the back, may start to give you an idea of what we’re planning here. The trailer, mounted to a press-loaned truck, will be our ramp to get the GR Corolla out from the Javits Center’s second floor.
First, we insert our crack team of thieves (once again Andy, Raph, Erik, and me) onto the show floor. Andy is once again on fake-passing-out diversion duty, while Erik runs crowd control. This time, Owen is driving the truck and trailer combo, and he’s heading directly through the gates of that front entrance. Once in, he begins arguing with whatever security approaches — this is all their fault, you see, for living in a country that drives on the wrong side of the road.
Once the truck is in position, it won’t be at a perfect 90-degree angle from the second-story windows. That’s where Raph comes in — he’s the spotter, directing me in the Corolla through the glass and towards the trailer. We’ve got one shot at this, so his role is crucial: A few degrees off, and we’re going nowhere.
Once the car lands on the trailer, it’s trivial to drive down the ramp and off into the sunset. Theoretically, of course — we would never really carry out either of these plans. Just know that, if the car mysteriously goes missing next week, the secure location is outside Ithaca. The password for entry is “Poughkeepsie.”