Friday September 8, 2017
By Richard Bosselman
AS the 50th anniversary of Chris Amon’s biggest home turf victory nears, the brand he associated with most closely here has issued a special edition car in memory of the former Formula One great.
Fittingly enough, given its reputation as a driver’s car and also given that it is raced in a maker-backed championship, it’s the 86 coupe has become the basis of the ‘Chris Amon Edition’ project, which is set to deliver just 10 manual transmission cars, each for $55,990.
Either by intention or accident a car that has been presented with full backing from the driver’s wife, Tish, is finished in an orange hue, not previously used for the 86, that is not wholly unreminiscent of the current Ferrari F1 colour – though, when he raced for that team, back in the 1960s’, the Maranello team’s shade was emphatically redder.
Amon, who passed away last year, enjoyed 16 seasons at the highest level of international motorsport but spent twice as long working for Toyota NZ.
He put in more than 30 years’ involvement as a vehicle development and motorsport consultant to the Palmerston North-based brand, much of that work conducted at the Manfeild racing circuit – which, shortly after his death, was renamed Manfeild: Circuit Chris Amon.
Amon’s status as being a cornerstone of the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand also synchs neatly as the track he helped design hostss the New Zealand Grand Prix, a title he took in 1968 and again in 1969, both times in a Ferrari Dino.
Amon was involved in local assembly until the late 1990s, and played a key role in Toyota’s international vehicle testing programme. Though had retired from that duty when the 86 came out in 2012 he delighted in driving the type.
Toyota New Zealand’s General Manager of Product, Spencer Morris, who was a member of the team that worked with Amon during the days of local vehicle development, says he believes this would be a car Amon would love.
“Chris enjoyed driving the 86 and we think he would approve of these changes to make it even better,” said Mr Morris. “Tish Amon has endorsed this limited edition model as a fitting tribute.”
TNZ has enforced that there will be 10 - and that's it. "We decided on 10 units to ensure exclusivity. Because this is a factory conversion we won’t have an opportunity to make more available in the future," explained brand public relations' spokesman Morgan Dilks. Two have already been sold, he added. It is not clear if TNZ has retained one for itself.
He said the cars were "a factory conversion from the plant in Japan, with the local addition of Chris Amon Edition decals on the boot and front guards and a unique unit number plate in the engine bay indicating the model number between 1 and 10."
There are no changes to the two litre “boxer” engine, so power and troque remain at the standard 152kW and 212Nm tune, but it promises sharper handling and stopping, through adoption of beefier than standard Brembo brakes and Sachs shock absorbers.
Toyota says the brakes provide greater stopping power, with 32 mm larger diameter and 6mm wider ventilated discs at the front and 26 mm larger diameter and 2mm wider rotors on the rear. The front four pot callipers provide 39 percent more braked surface than the brakes fitted to the standard 86.
Apart from its bespoke hue, the car has unique 10 spoke, 17-inch anthracite coloured alloy wheels and a metallic black finish on the door mirrors and rear spoiler.
The run also features unique Chris Amon Edition decals on the boot and front guards and each car has a unique unit number plate in the engine bay.
Interior appointments include Alcantara and leather accented sports front seats, steering wheel, gear shift, hand brake lever, door trim and dashboard all have contrasting orange stitching.
Standard equipment includes keyless entry and ignition, dual zone climate control air conditioning, a multi information display, privacy glass, a six speaker audio system, and satellite navigation with SUNA traffic channel which is not currently available on any other 86 variant.
There are seven airbags, vehicle stability control, traction control, LED daytime running lights and headlights with automatic levelling and cruise control.
This is the third Toyota car created by TNZ to carry the Amon name, following a ffive-door GT Corolla and a Camry V6 manual.