Tonight, we have the “prequel” to my story from a couple of weeks ago about the 1980 Dome Celica Turbo:

Schnitzer needed a new car for the 1977 reason, and a light weight, turbo charged Celica seemed like a good idea at the time.

Built for the German DRM championship by a squad more famous for their work with BMWs than Toyotas, the car used a 18R type G engine bored out to two liters, mated to a custom built 16V head. A KKK turbo pushed the power
up to an impressive 560 bhp.

The reason for the car’s existence can be summed up with one photo:

There it is, at the back of the starting grid, battling Porsche Turbos all around. The Celica debuted at Hockenheim on July 30th, 1977. Piloted by Harald Ertl, it qualified 13th, a horrible 25 seconds per lap slower than the fastest 935. Not a good start! To make matters worse, the car retired after only four laps. The car’s second race at Zolder on August 14th 1977 showed a bit more promise: Ertl managed to quality 7th, only 5 seconds off the pole time. Unfortunately the car retired after only three laps.

Things started to look better after the Toyota’s final DRM outing in 1977: at the Nurburgring on October 2nd it managed an impressive 4th place overall. In that 1977 season, the car was painted in blue and white. It returned in 1978 in red and white Toyota livery as seen here. Now driven by the famous Porsche racer, Rolf Stommelen, the best finish for the Schnitzer Celica was 8th place at Mainz-Finthen on June 18th, 1978. The rest of the season was pure misery, with the car retiring more often that not, with severe reliability issues.

Not a happy outcome then - and Toyota shipped the car to Japan after the 1978 season, where Dome pulled it apart and used the engine in their 1980 effort. But the engine problems remained the same, unfortunately.

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By all accounts, it should have been forgotten. But what kept the memory of this car alive wasn’t really the Tomica model - but this:

The Tamiya kit was hugely popular and might be still in production today - there seems to be no shortage of them on ebay!

This Tomica (#65-3) only stayed in production only for a couple of years and is not easy to come by these days. The one you see here is a bit of a mystery to me though. It is definitely not the standard issue - but then, what is it?

The black accents definitely are not like the ones on the real car, it is missing the tampo on the doors, and it has different tires to boot. Also the windows and front lights are a really smokey dark tint, whereas they are clear on the regular release. The black parts look hand painted, but that is nothing unusual on limited edition Tomica. I would be happy to write this off as a home made custom, but that doesn’t explain how the wheels would be swapped without any sign of tampering on the base. Either way, I still need a proper #65-3, but that won’t be easy!