The Toyota GT-One was a car first introduced to me back on Gran Turismo 2. It was a classic game that I spent years playing and one that showed me just how many cars existed and in how many forms. The GT-One certainly stuck out with it’s unique looks and super fast, super grippy on track performance. Gran Turismo 4 implanted this car further in my memory, buying the special all black version from the used car section, but it was red one the stuck with me.
Toyota entered the Le Mans in 1998 with this beast in the GT1 class. The rules stated that as this was the GT class and not the Prototype class, the cars needed to be based on a road car. So Toyota built the GT-One and afterwards, built the minimum number of road cars; one. A cheeky way of getting around the rules, but completely legal.
The car was super fast and was an outside favourite to take the outright win, and although it did impress in the race, it never did achieve a victory. Regardless, the car lives long in the memory, thanks in part to the livery.
The livery gave birth (at least I think!) to Toyota’s now iconic tear design. This version was a red base, with tears sweeping from the front of the car to the back, as if the sheer speed of the car had ripped the paint right off. At the time it was a very unique design and looked completely in harmony with itself, despite the variety of the shapes and sizes of the tears.
The shape of a car lends itself to a design and can often be the determining factor, as to whether or not a good livery can be made in the first place. A car like this has no problem. The beautiful sweeping curves, especially the downturn fro the roof to the tail, are nothing short of sexy, and the design makes full use, giving it a speedy look in the process.
Unfortunately the GT-One was entered in just two Le Mans 24 hour races, with a far more basic and bland livery on the cars for 1999. This was the result of Marlboro sponsorship, and I didn’t put two and two together until I read that fact, despite it being such an obviously Marlboro design. Anti-tobacco laws in France meant that the worded logo could not appear on the car. The silver lining was that the same group went on to form the Toyota F1 project.
Toyota F1 would rekindle and create the tradition of the tear livery, whilst also continuing the tradition of never reaching their potential. The former frustrated me for years (6 years in fact), before the slight design changed in 2008 kept me from going nuts. Despite all this, it was great to see Toyota back at top level Motorsport with their Le Mans entry in 2012 and hope that they do achieve the victory that has eluded them all these years, especially after the heartbreaking last lap failure whilst in the lead this year. Would be nice to have them back in F1 too.