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Rare Toyota race car finds home in Vernon

Local man wins chance to purchase specially made vehicle, of which there are only 10 in Canada
Toyota regional marketing manager David Beauchamp (from left), Vernon Toyota general sales manager Oliver Orlie and Toyota regional training manager Phil Rucht admire the Corolla GR Morizo edition. It’s one of only 10 such vehicles in Canada, and the lone one in B.C., purchased by a Vernon man. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

He once used $10,000 from a student loan to race automobiles.

Oh sure, Paul (not his real name - circumstances warranted anonymity) went hungry for a short period, but the experience of getting behind the wheel and racing an automobile stuck with him. He entered Time Attack events, a form of racing against a clock, not position or against other cars. He did regular auto racing. Heck, he was even a racing instructor until he got out of the sport.

All the money Paul wasted and kept him in the poorhouse, he said, has been a benefit.

The Vernon man is the B.C. winner of a chance to purchase one of 10 specially made Toyota GR Corolla Morizo edition vehicles. Paul’s story won over Toyota in B.C. and he had the special vehicle shipped to Vernon Toyota for delivery.

“I explained with documentation how I threw away my life on racing vehicles, making me the perfect applicant for this car,” laughed Paul at the Vernon dealership where he lovingly looked at his new purchase.

“I think when Toyota was doing the selection process, they realized I wasn’t just going to hold onto the car as an investment, but I’ll be someone that tracks the car and will utilize it to its performance abilities. That’s my intent for the car.”

A man who has raced tracks in Ontario and the U.S., Paul plans to put his wheels to use at the Area 27 track near Oliver.

“It’s a racetrack-specific Corolla,” said Oliver Orlie, Vernon Toyota general sales manager. “There are no back seats. The rear windows don’t go down. Toyota wanted to make sure that the new owner would have track experience and a social media presence to make sure the Corolla is used for its intended purpose…”

From “The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla Morizo edition is a limited production model. Named after Akio Toyoda’s racing moniker, this is the track-focused GR Corolla, featuring a re-tuned engine that delivers a higher, 295 lb-ft of torque. This model drops the rear seats to save weight, then securely holds driver and navigator in Brin-Naub and synthetic leather-trimmed GR sport seats with red stitching and red mesh inserts.

“Other features include a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission with an Ultrasuede-clad Morizo signed shift knob, forged 18-inch alloy wheels, carbon fibre roof, rear lip spoiler, vented hood bulge and a suede-clad steering wheel.”

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is a smidge under $60,000.

Toyota regional training manager Phil Rucht of Richmond had the pleasure of showing the vehicle to Paul at the Vernon dealership.

“More than 85 per cent of the vehicle is hand-built. It’s not an assembly line process,” said Rucht. “He’s (Paul) vibrating, he’s so excited. He’s even offered for me to come back to the track with him and have a track day. He’s like a kid at Christmas, and me too, seeing it for the first time.”

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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