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Inside the (somewhat) secret Toyota USA Automobile Museum

Celicas, Supras, racers and three 2000GTs await inside the incredible Toyota USA Automobile Museum.

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Geoffrey Morrison
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1 of 52 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Toyota USA Automobile Museum

Located in Torrance, in south Los Angeles, the Toyota USA Automobile Museum is accessible by appointment, but features some incredible cars from throughout Toyota's history.

For the full story, check out Celicas, Land Cruisers, Supras and more at the Toyota USA Automobile Museum.

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FJ25

Easy to see the Jeep inspiration here, but it's in incredible condition -- as are all the cars here.

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Toyopet

Speaking of incredible condition, this Toyopet Crown was the first passenger car Toyota sold in the US. This one is nearly 60 years old.

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The museum floor

The museum! You enter near old cars and trucks, but as you can see in the distance, there are newer cars too. The one in the foreground is a 1967 Stout 1900, the predecessor to the Hilux.

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Trucks

Toyota has sold a lot of pickup trucks. The yellow model is from '77, the others are from the '90s.

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Toyopet and beyond

After the Toyopet, Toyota had a much bigger hit with the Corona. You can see the Corona above in teal.

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AA

This is actually a replica of the 1936 Model AA. Interestingly, this one was built on a Hilux chassis.

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Last Crown

This Crown, from 1971, was the last of its kind sold in the US.

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Hybrids

Toyota is understandably proud of its role in our hybrid powertrain present.

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Record holder

After a year racing, the car was sent up to the Bonneville Salt Flats to break some speed records. It might be the first Toyota to set a speed record: 211 mph.

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Surprisingly stock

Not massively different inside, surprisingly.

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Concepts

A handful of concept cars for Toyota and Lexus.

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Comfy

Not a ton of legroom though.

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Bumper design

That's a big bumper and grill right there.

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Topless

The cloth roof on this concept retracts fully, which looks really cool.

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Purples

The interior is even more bonkers than the roof. I dig this car, wish they had made it.

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Tom's cruise

The front (back?) of Tom Cruise's car in "Minority Report." It will be interesting to see if the cars of 2054 look anything like this.

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Long line of Lexuses

On the left is the "F1" prototype, what would be called the LS 400. Yes, it's the first Lexus.

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Celica

This is a 1971 Celica, the first year it was sold in the US. Love the color.

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Celica GT

This 1978 Celica GT was one of the second-generation models. It had a 95 horsepower inline-4.

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Celica GT-Four

Now this is a rare one, a GT-Four or All-Trac Turbo. Not too many sold in the US. Turbocharged, intercooled 2.0L 200 horsepower inline-four driving all four wheels. I'd buy one.

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Two MR2s

The curvy rear of a second-generation MR2 next to the boxy first-generation model.

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'80s

A very boxy '80s interior for this 1985 MR2.

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Brown or orange?

The boxy-yet-still-streamlined 1982 "Celica Supra." This was its first year of production. It would later lose the "Celica" prefix when it went front wheel drive.

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Supra

Eleven years after the car in the previous slide, we got this. More than twice the power, a bit more weight, and a lot more performance: 0-60 in a claimed 4.6 seconds. Not bad for 1993.

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Prototype

There's no engine or interior in this prototype, but you can certainly see the design language that would lead to the 86.

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Corolla

Sure Supras and Celicas are exciting, but the real money is made with sedans. In this case, the ever-popular Corolla. This car is from 1969, the second year the model was available in the US.

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Little wagon

Or this, a 1970 Corolla two-door wagon, sporting a respectable 73 horsepower from it's 1.2L engine.

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Brown

Another Corolla wagon, this one from 1979. What is it with '70s cars and brown?

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Minivans

Minivans? At a car museum? This place is a riot. I always liked the design of the the boxy TownAce or "Toyota Van." It's iconically '80s.

This one even has a built-in ice maker! How civilized.

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Pickups

The white one is a 1979 SR5, also known as the HiLux, Toyota's legendary "indestructible vehicle."

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FJ45

Like it just rolled out of the showroom. Beautiful.

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Twiggy's GT

One of the museum's three 2000GTs. This one is owned by the model known as "Twiggy."

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Inline

The 2.0L DOHC inline-6 from the 2000GT

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Racers

Stacked up and all around, the many different vehicles raced by Toyota. Here's a 360 video of this area.

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MKIII

The Eagle MKIII from 1991. It won 21 of the 27 races it entered, including the 24 Hours of Daytona. Inside is a 2.1L 4cyl engine that produced over 925 hp.

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Celeb racers

At the Grand Prix of Long Beach (now the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach), not too far from the museum, Toyota supplies cars for a celeb race before the big show. I saw Patrick Stewart drive one year. His car wasn't here, but the museum does have those driven by Tony Danza, Jay Leno, Cameron Diaz and others.

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Baja

Built for the punishing desert races like the Baja 1000, these were both driven by Ivan "Ironman" Stewart.

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No windows

It makes sense when you think about it, but it's surprising to see racers without windshields.

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Solo

Stewart is the only driver to win the Baja 1000 driving a four-wheeled vehicle solo.

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NASCAR

This car got Toyota's first win in NASCAR. Under the "hood" is a 5.9L 700 horsepower V8.

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Winner

The winning car from the 2003 IndyCar championship. Inside is a 3.5L V8 with around 675 horsepower and a 10,300 redline.

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Like a glove

"Snug" is an understatement.

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2000GT

And now it's time to get up close and personal with this gorgeous 2000GT.

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Doors and windows

For a $1.5 million museum piece, I didn't expect I'd be able to touch it but they opened it all up and let me get in!

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Power

Most 2000GTs had a 2.0L straight-6 with 150 horsepower. A handful had this, a slightly larger 2.3L six.

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Side panels

I'd never seen these open before. They're the side panels aft of the wheels but before the doors.

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Battery

And behind the other panel: the battery.

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Dash

It's a small cockpit. Not "cramped" exactly -- I've certainly been in smaller classics. But it's not what you'd call "roomy."

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Handles and knobs

Every inch of the car looked like new.

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Trunk space

For such a small car there's a fair amount of trunk space. Width and depth, anyway, you can see how low the glass goes.

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If only

I asked if I could take it for a spin. The answer was predictable.

I did get to take a 360 video of the interior though.

For the full story, check out my tour of the Toyota USA Automobile Museum.

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