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  Toyota Celica GT-Four ST165

  Article Image gallery (5) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Japan
Produced from:1988 - 1991
Source:Company press release
Last updated:July 10, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThe Celica GT-Four, code named ST165, was Toyota's first full-time four-wheel drive rally car to compete in the World Rally Championship. It has the distinction of providing Toyota with its first drivers' championship title, claimed by Carlos Sainz in 1990.

The 2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed saw legendary Swedish rally star Bjorn Waldegard once again driving the car in which he claimed a monumental victory in the 1990 Safari rally.

The Celica GT-Four was developed from scratch to meet the new Group A regulations, introduced for the 1988 season, but a delay in homologation meant that it didn't make its debut until the Tour de Corse, the fifth event of the year.

There were many innovative features in the design and engineering of the GT-Four, including an Xtrac six-speed transmission. Toyota was fully committed to winning the WRC and engineers worked intensively on trouble-shooting early problems through to the middle of the 1989 season. Then came the breakthrough everyone was working for, with Carlos Sainz putting in an aggressive drive on the 1,000 Lakes to demonstrate just what this remarkable car was capable of. Its quality was sealed on the next event, Rally Australia, with Juha Kankkunen posting its maiden WRC victory.

In 1990 the GT-Four was consistently the class of the field. After claiming second place in the season-opener at Monte Carlo, it went on to win the Safari, Acropolis, New Zealand, 1,000 Lakes and RAC events. Carlos Sainz was Toyota's first WRC champion driver and Toyota clinched second place in the manufacturers' championship.

Bjorn Waldegard's heroic win on the 1990 Safari Rally was the stuff of rallying legend. Fifty-eight cars took the start, but just 10 made the finish, battling through extreme conditions with torrential rain on every day of the event.

It was Waldegard's fourth Safari victory and his sweetest, having conquered the 4,181km route 38 minutes ahead of his closest rival. And Toyota's pre-eminence was confirmed with third and fourth places claimed, too.

The base engine for the GT-four was Toyota's 3S-GTE Turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder DOHC unit, with output increased from 185 to 265bhp in line with the new Group A regulations. Key strengths included good acceleration response and torque delivery in low to mid-range, coupled to the traction and performance provided by the full-time four-wheel drive system.

The car was nearing its peak of perfection at the outset of the 1991 season, winning the Portugal, Corsica, New Zealand and Argentina rallies. Fate took a hand, however, and Sainz's retirements from two consecutive events were enough to deny him back-to-back titles. But the GT-Four succeeded in playing a formidable role in establishing Toyota and Toyota Team Europe (TTE) as a major player among the factory teams, achieving its full potential within just two years of its launch.

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  Article Image gallery (5) Specifications