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End of the road for the Toyota GT86

Toyota has sold its last GT86 in the UK, setting the seal on almost nine years of driving fun.

The dynamic coupe has led the company’s worldwide renaissance as a maker of pure-bred sports cars, blazing a trail for today’s GR Supra and GR Yaris.

To celebrate the occasion Toyota has put together a short film capturing some of GT86’s greatest moments from the past decade.

The idea of the new sports car was first mooted in 2005 as Toyota and Subaru looked for a venture that would symbolise the strength of the alliance between the two companies.

An entry-level sports car was agreed on and the following year “Team 86” set to work, with Toyota taking the lead on product planning and design and the businesses working together on the engineering development programme.

The guiding principal was the declaration of Toyota President Akio Toyoda that “if it’s not fun to drive, it’s not a car”.

From the outset, GT86 (or simply the “86” in Japan) was going to be simple and fun. For Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada the fundamentals were rear-wheel drive, ordinary tyres (just the same as on a Prius) and no engine turbocharging.

While the name echoed the qualities of the famous AE86 Corolla coupe, it was also interpreted in the 86 x 86 bore and stroke of the car’s 2.0-litre “boxer” engine, supplied by Subaru.

The project reached fruition with the production-ready model – the world’s most compact 2+2 coupe – debuting at the Tokyo motor show in 2011.

UK sales began in July the following year, prompting a wave of media and public acclaim and a healthy clutch of awards, including Top Gear magazine’s Car of the Year trophy.

GT86’s taut looks and nimble handling made it an instant success as an authentic driver’s car. It was designed for sport as well as leisure, competing in GT4 circuit racing and being engineered for rallying – the first homologated rear-wheel drive rally car for many years.

Television stardom arrived when the BBC’s Top Gear programme recruited the GT86 as the Reasonably Fast Car tested on track by a series of famous faces.

Perhaps most remarkable of all, Toyota helped blind driver Amit Patel achieve his dream of driving on a racetrack – a feat he accomplished with exceptional skill and speed, recorded in an award-winning film.

In its time on sale in the UK, almost 7,500 GT86s were sold.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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