When it comes to Toyota, it often reminds people of keywords like “family car” and “no features”. Indeed, the biggest feature of this Japanese car brand’s “backbone” is that everyone recognizes the solidity and durability. Whether in those poor third world countries or in the dangerous battlefield, Toyota cars can be seen. These mature and stable car-making experiences are often inseparable from car racing. Let us take a look at the development process of Toyota TRD, the official sports department.
Toyota TRD (Toyota Racing Development) is the official department for Toyota to develop automobile racing events. At the same time, this Japanese performance sports brand has also developed upgraded parts for Toyota and Lexus models. TRD has two branches in Japan and the United States. The Japanese department mainly provides technical support for the Toyota team in Super GT (JGTC) and some field races and rally races. TRD’s US division mainly serves the team based on NASCAR Grand Prix and some US off-road series.
In June 1954, TRD’s prototype was initially established in Tokyo as a Toyota car maintenance department. At that time, vehicle repair and refurbished used cars were the main business. In 1965, Toyota set up a technical research and development department (that is, the predecessor of TRD) to develop motor sports. In 1975, Toyota’s technical research and development department was forced to disband due to the impact of the oil crisis.
Immediately after the technical research and development department was disbanded, Toyota established a new TOSCO department that specializes in the development and sale of automotive sports parts. In 1976, in order to expand its high-performance auto parts business and develop better in automotive sports, TOSCO officially changed its name to TRD (Toyota Racing Development). It can also be regarded as the official establishment of the TRD brand (department). In addition, the company needs better development in international competitions, so Toyota established the TRD branch in the United States in 1979.
★Development of TRD
Toyota is the first Japanese manufacturer to participate in international automobile events. In 1957, Japan’s economy had just recovered after the war. At that time, the automobile market was still in its infancy and development stage. People needed small tricycles, trucks and buses more than private cars at that time. And there are very few people who are interested in car racing. In order to compete with world auto brands, Toyota participated in the 19-day Rally race in Australia for the first time.
At that time, Toyota used a Crown car with only 48 horsepower and weighing 1700 kg after full load to complete the race with a total mileage of 17,000 kilometers. After the race, the car was only slightly damaged in the engine valve part. Toyota team won the 47th place among 86 participants, 34 of them failed to finish the race, and won the third place among foreign participants. This was a great success for Toyota, which has participated in endurance for the first time. The following year, Toyota won the championship in Japan’s domestic rally.
In 1965, Toyota technology research and development department (predecessor of TRD) cooperated with Yamaha to launch the legendary Toyota 2000GT sports car at the Tokyo Motor Show. In the next year, the technology department used 2000GT sports cars to conduct a continuous 78-hour endurance tests with an average speed of 206km / h and more than 15,000 kilometers. In this test, Toyota set three world speed records and set 13 other international records.
Since TRD was officially renamed and established in 1976, it has begun to vigorously develop auto racing activities. In 1981, a single-brand model competition was launched. In 1985, using Corolla Levin (AE86) for the first time to participate in the Japan Touring Car Championship and won the championship title. In 1990, TRD developed and designed a 90C-V car to participate in the Japan Sports Prototype Championship (JSPC) and won the competition. In the same year, the car finished sixth place in the Le Mans 24 Endurance Race. In addition, it also won the GT500 class championship in the 1997 Japanese JGTC (Super GT) Touring Car Race. After 2000, TRD continued to be active under the leadership of the Toyota Racing Team in various types of Touring cars including Super GT (JGTC), and mainly developed upgraded parts and suits for the Toyota series for the Japanese and American markets, and TRD series civilian mass production vehicles.
Super GT is the highest-class Touring car race in Japan. Before 2005, it was named JGTC. It has been developing for 23 years since its first start in 1993. The event is divided into two groups: GT500 (maximum power 500 horsepower) and GT300 (maximum power 300 horsepower). In the 1990s, TRD built the Supra (A80) racing car for Toyota Tom’s team. Toyota team made its debut in the fourth round of JGTC (super GT) in 1994 and won the second place in qualification, then the team won the championship in 1997. In 2000, the team used Toyota MR-S racing car to participate in GT300 group competition. In 2001, Toyota once again won the GT500 category championship. In 2002 and 2005, he won the championship of two groups at the same time. In 2006, the SC430 was used for the first time to participate in the GT500 group competition and win. In 2014, TRD developed Lexus RC F racing cars to participate in Super GT. As the technical support of Toyota racing team, TRD has gained rich technical experience in many years of competition, which makes it possible to better develop civil mass production vehicles and upgrade parts.
Le Mans 24-hour endurance race was first held in 1923, which is the oldest automobile endurance race in the world. In 1987, Toyota participated in the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race for the first time. In 1988, Toyota 88C successfully completed the race and won the 12th place. In 1990, Toyota team’s performance rose sharply, and finally won the sixth place with 90C-V racing car. In 1992, the team used the newly built TS010 (which was launched in 1989), and finally won the second place in the rain against the Peugeot team. In 1994, Toyota used the 94C-V car to pursue the champion title again, but it only won the second place because of the gearbox fault. In the 2016 Le Mans 24-hour endurance race, an accident happened when everyone thought that Toyota team would definitely win the championship, Toyota TS-050 suddenly lost its power and stopped in the straight line of the track, which made Porsche surpass Toyota and won the first place in the race.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Race is one of the famous car races in North America. The first race was started in 1916, and it was held every year in Pikes Peak, Colorado, USA. The Pikes Peak Hill Climbing Race is the highest altitude race in the world’s auto racing. At the same time, it tests the training level of the car, and generally requires the vehicle to have extremely fast acceleration ability. In 1994, New Zealand driver Rod Millen drove a Toyota Celica car built by TRD and won the championship with 10 minutes and 04 seconds, and also set a new record at the time. This Toyota Celica race car uses a steel-tube chassis structure, a carbon fiber body, the power part is a 2.1L inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine developed by TRD, the maximum power is 850 horsepower, and the peak torque reaches an astonishing 1490 Nm. Later, Toyota also won four consecutive Pikes Peak Hill Climb Championships from 1996 to 1999.
Of course, the activities of TRD in the United States also include NASCAR, a popular automobile event in the United States. In 2000, Toyota entered the NASCAR race for the first time and participate in the Goody’s Dash Series (NASCAR series short-distance race). Of course, Japanese car brands that entered the US for the first time still ranked behind US automakers such as Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge. Later, the TRD team built Toyota Tundra and Camry, and began to fully enter the Sprint Cup, which is the highest level race of the Camping World Truck Series.
In addition to these world-famous large-scale events, TRD often participates in and holds some single model events in Japan, such as Toyota Vitz Cup field race, TRD Vitz Rally Challenge and Japan endurance challenge. In 2002, Toyota held a thank you activity at Fuji racetrack in Japan. At that time, 35,000 people attended the event, which get a great success. In addition, TRD is not only concerned about automobile racing, but also mainly develops the performance and appearance modification products of mass production models for Japanese and American markets.
In 1994, TRD launched the Toyota Supra TRD 3000 GT model. TRD has developed a good aerodynamic kit for the entire vehicle appearance, and replaced the engine cover with excellent heat dissipation. Two large rear spoilers are available. The wide body kit includes front bumper, side skirts, and rear bumper. The overall width of the rear body is increased by 50mm. The power part is equipped with a 3.0L inline six-cylinder twin-turbocharged engine code-named 2JZ-GTE, with a maximum power of 320 horsepower. In addition, there are TRD exclusive instruments, steering wheel, racing seats, tower bar, exhaust, cooling system, etc.
In 2000, TRD Celica TRD Sports M came out. In terms of power, TRD created a code-named 2ZZ-GE 1.8L naturally aspirated engine, replacing lighter pistons, high-angle camshafts and other high-performance components, making the maximum power reach 210 horsepower. In addition, a mechanical LSD (Limited Slip Differential) was added, and a 6-speed manual transmission was used. The chassis has replaced TRD’s exclusive shock absorber, anti-roll bar and tower bar. There have also been small changes in appearance and interior.
Toyota MR-S can be said to be a convertible model based on the third-generation MR2 model (later model of MR2, called MR-S in some areas). In 2000, TRD released a limited edition MR-S model called VM180 TRD. The car is equipped with a code-named 1ZZ-FE inline four-cylinder 1.8L naturally aspirated engine with a maximum power of 157 horsepower. TRD upgraded the basic modification parts such as exhaust system, chassis anti-roll bar, appearance kit and so on. In addition, mechanical LSD (Limited Slip Differential), TRD shock absorber, TRD aluminum alloy wheel rim and hard roof can be selected to further improve the quality and performance of the vehicle.
In 2003, TRD launched the Vitz RS Turbo sports car based on Toyota’s first-generation Vitz. TRD mainly developed a turbocharger kit for this car, making the code-named 1NZ-FE inline four-cylinder 1.5L engine with the original maximum power of 109 horsepower/6000 rpm, peak torque of 141Nm/4200 rpm. After the upgrade, the maximum power reached 150 horsepower/6400 rpm, and the peak torque was 196 Nm/4800 rpm. With a 5-speed manual gearbox, the acceleration of 100 kilometers is 8.19 seconds. The use of overhead intercooler and large-size water tank ensure the performance of the engine. In addition, the upgraded turbine kit is only the basic setting in terms of power output, and if adjusted slightly, it can easily break through 200 horsepower. The Vitz RS Turbo is popular with many consumers in Japan, where small cars are so popular.
The 86 sports car jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru naturally requires the transformation of TRD, but it is basically based on creating appearance kits. In 2013, the GT86 race car built by TRD at the Goodwood Festival of Speed not only bulit a chassis walking system, but also designed an aerodynamic kit with excellent performance and a large number of carbon fiber body parts. In July 2016, TRD was the first to introduce the latest model of Toyota 86 in Japan. The new TRD version Toyota 86 adds basic chassis upgrade components, and more changes are the appearance kit parts.
In addition, TRD has introduced a wide range of models. In addition to the common Toyota cars such as Corolla, Camry and Mark X, luxury MPV models such as Alphard have also been transformed. The main change of the TRD version of Alphard is the front grille part, which makes the front face of the entire vehicle very sharp and the sports style is prominent. The rear bumper and rear spoiler were also replaced in the rear part. The whole car looks like a luxurious MPV model full of sport and mystery.
In 2014, Toyota TRD released the Tundra TRD Pro model at the Chicago Auto Show. The orange exterior and smoked front grille as the main color model. In order to focus on off-road performance, TRD has installed a special shock absorber with an external nitrogen cylinder for this purpose, which not only raises the chassis of the vehicle, but also ensures excellent working stability under various complex road conditions. TRD black wheels and Michelin off-road tires improve walking quality. In terms of power, TRD just replaced the exhaust system, making the sound more robust, and the throttle response speed has been slightly improved. Finally, sporty red stitches and TRD exclusive sports seats are added to the interior. Although the TRD Pro version has not changed much in general, it embodies the essence of TRD everywhere.
TRD has also created Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus models, the more representative is TRD Lexus RC F. TRD adds carbon fiber front lip, side skirts, rear lower spoiler and spoiler tail to the exterior of this car. Some parts of the chassis are made of aviation materials. Replaced with 20-inch forged wheels, TRD steering damper rod and TRD shock absorber. It also added 1.5Way mechanical LSD (Limited Slip Differential) and exhaust system. The Lexus RC F built by TRD has remarkable characteristics such as high quality, high technology and high performance.
Toyota TRD has many years of racing experience, and its numerous high-quality modified parts and models cannot be listed one by one here. There seems to be such a strong “backing” behind Toyota, which is one of the reasons that Toyota vehicles have durable quality. Whether it is a modified mass production or an exclusive event, TRD is always strictly controlled, so that each product has a very high standard of quality.