It's not often you come across cars so rare that even the company's PR reps aren't familiar with them, but that's the case with the 1994 Toyota Corolla TRD2000 you see here. Not that we can blame them, of course; hardly any were built, and the car seems to have fallen through the cracks of Toyota's complex fandom. Maybe there's a reason for that.
Other than the dual exhaust and slightly lower ride height, there's not much to indicate that the TRD2000 is any different from its more pedestrian sedan counterpart. In reality, the cars were developed for the Japanese market and built to replicate the specs of the Corolla JTCC race cars from 1994-95. They might not be barnstormers compared to hot Japanese cars like the modern Honda Civic Type R, but they were far, far removed from the ordinary Corolla.
The words "rare" and "obscure" don't do nearly enough to illustrate how special this car really is, however. Only 99 of the Corolla TRD2000s were made, and it’s said that only ten units from that lot were actually sold. The Toyota Racing Development squad that was responsible for the cars is no longer in operation, and at the time it was considered an outside entity, separate from the Toyota mothership.
The cars’ price tag in 1994 hit 3,350,000 yen, which is just under $32,000 USD. In today’s money, that’s almost $56,000—a tall ask for a Corolla of any type. The 1,726,000-yen TRD overhaul on top of the car's normal MSRP is responsible for that price, which was double the cost of a new ’94 Corolla.
At least that mountain of cash bought quite a long list of performance upgrades. The stock Corolla engine was pulled in favor of a naturally aspirated, 2.0-liter 3S-GE that sent 178 horsepower to the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox. The gearbox and driveshaft came from two different generations of the Celica, which required custom-made engine mounts. On top of that, the TRD2000 was given a heavy-duty clutch, a mechanical limited-slip differential, 15-inch TRD Type-FT wheels with Yokohama Grandprix M5 tires, new suspension, TRD brakes and a stainless steel dual exhaust.
If you're head-over-heels for this car, the good news is that it's old enough to be legally imported to the U.S. The big problem, as you might have already guessed, is finding one for sale...or finding one, period.