16-17 January 2014

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Lot 43

1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO

  • Chassis no. 86T-002

Sold for $242,000

Est. 450 bhp, 2,090 cc turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 99.4 in.

  • Memorable history of collaboration between AAR and Toyota
  • Sold by Toyota to championship-winning driver Chris Cord
  • One of only three built for the 1986, 1987, and 1988 seasons

Automobile racing, like all other endeavors in the pursuit of speed, is a display of tension between the immovable forces of nature, human determination, and the framework by which opponents compete. It is the ever-changing tensions between those forces that produce in many the insatiable desire to race. Two men in particular are noteworthy, as they’ve always danced on the edge of what it means to compete with the very best.

In 1964, Dan Gurney and Carroll Shelby, both legends larger than this space provides, founded All American Racers (AAR) with the backing of Goodyear tires. From the outset, these seasoned competitors pursued victory with vigor, and by 1970, when Gurney bought out Shelby’s stake, AAR had won as a constructor in both Formula One and Indy Car.

By the early ’80s, the team had won in competitions around the world. Their history of success no doubt attracted Toyota, who was eager to build a racing program around the Celica, to promote the car’s sporting credentials in the United States. While Toyota enjoyed prior success on the world stage in endurance racing and rallying, the most visible road racing series at the time was the IMSA GT Championship.

In 1983, AAR and Toyota entered a partnership to compete in the series’ entry-level GTU class, and by 1985, they had won 10 races. Coinciding with the launch of the next-generation T160 Celica, the decision was made to move up and compete in the GTO, or Grand Touring Over 2.5 liters, class. Here we must mention the framework of competition: the road going Celica was a front-drive compact car, but its competitors in GTO would be the Ford Mustang, the Porsche 911, the Chevrolet Corvette, and other such machines.

This car, chassis 86T-002, was completed in July 1986 and built to, and beyond, the framework of the rulebook. At its heart was the legendary four-cylinder Toyota T engine, which, in various forms, saw duty in everything from Formula Two, Formula Three, Group B rally, and World Rally Championship competition.

The GTO implementation made near 600 horsepower before IMSA-mandated restrictions were added. In a 1999 interview with Sports Compact Car, Gurney describes the IMSA GTO as being “...pretty good, a hairy motor. It was enough to get the job done!”

It is a Celica in name only. In truth, AAR built a tubular space frame machine that had a rear-drive chassis, a rear-mounted Hewland transaxle, and enough bodywork modifications to make a plastic surgeon blush.

After the program concluded in 1989, this car was sold directly by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. to their championship-winning driver Chris Cord, and it now incorporates all of the latest performance developments, including a revised suspension setup, a carbon fiber body and driveshaft, a more robust gearbox, and aerodynamic improvements. With only three owners from new, including Toyota, this mighty Celica IMSA GTO is being offered from a prominent Southern California collection.

It represents an opportunity to own a championship-winning design that remained competitive until taking its very last checkered flag—not to mention one that’s a rare example of a successful partnership between American engineering talent and Japanese muscle.

This is a race car and will, therefore, be sold on a Bill of Sale.


Please note that this car is accompanied with numerous additional parts including a spare engine, three front bumper air dams, a front and rear clip, a set of four wheels, and five sets of tires, amongst others. For a complete list of spares, please consult an RM Specialist.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more