Page 1 of 2 Next >> Japanese manufacturer Toyota and Dan Gurney's All American Racers (AAR) teamed up in the 1980s to take on the GT class of the popular IMSA sports car championship. AAR initially fielded a production based Celica in the GTU class for engines of under two-litre and from 1985 used a similar car powered by a larger engine in the GTO (over two-litre) class. Halfway through 1986, these were replaced by a purpose-built GTO car inspired by the recently introduced Celica Turbo All-Trac.
Designed and built at AAR's facility in California, the Celica Turbo GTO featured a chromoly tubular spaceframe with all-round independent suspension. Toyota supplied the latest generation four-cylinder turbo engine, equipped with twin overhead camshafts and twin-spark injection. It displaced 2,090 cc, which meant it was classified as a three-litre taking the 1.4x equivalency in account. In the trim used by AAR, the '4T-GTE' was good for 450 bhp. It was connected to a Hewland transaxle gearbox through a novel carbon-fibre driveshaft.
While some panels like the roof and doors had to be retained to keep the Celica silhouette, the rest of body was crafted in lightweight carbon-fibre composites. The basic design was created using wind-tunnel testing but the final shape gradually evolved during the Celica GTO's first season. Compared to the earlier AAR Celicas, the purpose-built machine was noticeably wider to clear the fatter tyres used The rules did not allow for separate wings to be used, so the necessary downforce was generated by an integrated rear spoiler and, front and rear diffusers.
Ready in time for round 5 of the 1986 championship at Riverside, the AAR-built Toyota Celica Turbo GTO made an inconspicuous debut as it caught fire in one of the practice sessions. This was most likely caused by the hot exhaust that exited immediately behind the left front wheel. At the following outings, teething reliability problems prevented the cars to convert the potential in victories. The streak finally ended at the Road America 500 Miles, where Dennis Aase and Ricky Moran finished third overall and first in class. Later in the year, Aase also won the GTO race at Watkins Glen outright. Page 1 of 2 Next >>