A rock-star welcome greeted the chief engineer of Toyota’s cult sportscar, Tetsuya Tada, at Festival of 86 last weekend.
Tada-san drew a record number of 86 owners to the club event with more than 500 people queuing to grab an autograph from the much-admired designer.
Toyota Australia hosted the club event at its Sydney headquarters. Organisers said 272 cars attended the function with 234 examples of the Toyota 86 on display – a record outside of Japan.
A further 27 owners brought their AE86 – the car recognised as the spiritual predecessor of the 86 – while 11 others brought twin-under-the-skin Subaru BRZs.
Fans of the 86 came from as far afield as Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and even New Zealand. All had responded to an invitation issued on social media sites only a fortnight ahead of the event, which reached capacity attendance a week later.
During the three-hour-long event, Tada-san spent his time signing autographs on everything from vehicle components (from dash panels to engine covers), models cars, T-shirts, posters and owner’s manuals.
“I am very excited to join Australian fans of the 86,” Tada-san told the gathered crowd.
“I made this car for you – and people like you around the world. You have made this car a great success with more than 6000 sold in Australia – the third-highest total in the world.”
The Toyota 86 has sold more than 6000 units since it went on sale locally in mid-2012. This year to-date 4049 units have been sold – and the waiting list grows. Toyota said that depending on variant, waiting times can stretch between three and six months, though some dealerships are reporting queues as long as nine months for more popular models.
By contrast, the Subaru BRZ, which shares all but the badge with its Toyota cousin, has sold only 1000 units since it went on sale last August; and 873 units thus far this year.