Racing Hero – 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO Is a Rear-Drive Boost-Monster

1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTOThere is something about this purpose-built Celica racecar that feels like the best of all worlds: rear-drive with a rear-mounted transaxle, a 2.0-liter Toyota “T” turbo engine detuned from 600HP to 450HP, and a grip setup to shame any other race series.

This beautiful carbon-skinned racecar is hiding tires wider than a NASCAR racer, yet is as low as any modern hypercar.

We just love its relative simplicity versus the tech-overloaded racecars of today. One purpose: be faster than anything else ever made… but only with the right driver aboard.

This car earned $242,000 when sold in 2014.

1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 13 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 12 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 1 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 2 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 5 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 8 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 7 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 6 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 4 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 3 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 17 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 9 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 10 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 11 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 14 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 15 1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO 16

RM Auctions


16-17 January 2014

Lot 43

1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO

To be auctioned on Thursday, January 16, 2014

Without Reserve

Sold for $242,000

  • Chassis no. 86T-002

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


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.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s1986 Toyota Celica IMSA GTO