If TOM’S is looking to its fans to fundraise most of this restoration, they might want to look elsewhere.
Earlier this year, in the middle of this global pandemic around June, fans of Toyota Motorsport came across a bit of good news, one of the two TOM’s Castrol Supra cars used in the 1998 All Japan Grand Touring Championship. In its iconic White, Red, and, Green livery, it’s car the millions of race fans immediately identified around the world since, not only did this Supra generation of Supra bring success to Toyota in the top level of Japanese touring car racing, it was strategically included in video games, most notably, Gran Turismo.
Tachi Oiwa Motor Sports A.K.A. TOMS found this car sitting in a warehouse collecting dust, stripped of its 3S-GT turbocharged four-cylinder race engine and collecting rust. Setting up a GoFundMe of sorts with three tiers of goals to reach, TOMS hoped their fans would foot most of the ambitious restoration.
Only 3% raised
Only $15,606 or 1,655,000 yen is raised so far, that’s just 3 percent of the ultimate goal and not even 17 percent of the tier one goal.
The three tiers are
- ~$94,000 (10M yen) – Interior and exterior restoration only, this Supra won’t move.
- ~$282,000 (30M yen) – Get the Supra up and running but not race ready. Will be able to drive but won’t blast down Suzuka at full speed.
- ~471,000 (50M yen)- the ultimate goal. The Supra is fully restored at this funding level and can presumably hit its top speed if the driver wanted to.
Why I think this fundraiser isn’t generating enough funds.
There are a handful of good reasons this fundraiser isn’t working like, the gifts attached to the donation levels aren’t all that enticing or not that many people even know about this project, but ultimately I don’t think people want to spend money fixing someone else’s car for no good reason.
If you think about it, this is like your good friend setting up a GoFundMe to help restore his race winning Miata that’s been sitting in storage. He might’ve won a local SCCA championship in it or, heck, even the Miata cup, but it’s not your car and arguably you’d tell your friend to kick rocks, get a job, and raise the funds himself.
When I came across this project on Reddit, I was initially perturbed a race team wanted my money to fix their car. I was happy to find dozens shared my views. Here’s a screenshot from that thread showing you what I mean.
Yeah, I hope they restore a piece of history. But I’m not really interested in helping rebuild a car for someone’s collection either.
Ledzep 14 replied with,
If I’m paying my own money into it I better own a portion of it and get money back when it sells to some rich dude. Or be able to drive it once. But that’ll never happen so I’m out.
Also, the story behind this Supra, while great in and of itself, does not tug at my emotional heart strings.
One of the main keys to a great fundraiser is the human element, it’s why some fundraisers go viral. For example, a GoFundMe for a 94-year-old street vendor raised $80,000 within hours (ya, it’s real.) People identified with that man, thinking they probably wouldn’t want their own Grandparents selling tamales under a scorching sun.
This Castrol Supra, while nostalgic with an OK race pedigree (this Supra finished 7th in the 1998 season) is ultimately just one of hundreds of race teams asking money to fix one of thousands of historic race cars just because.
If there was a real human interest story behind this Supra like the warehouse owner is a known local philanthropist who single-handily raised a dozen orphans, fell on hard times, and this is his only prized possession he’d like to get restored (unlikely story, but bear with me) OK, I think people would throw him a couple bucks to see his pride and joy restored.
And it’s not like Toyota trashed all their TOMS Castrol Supras. They are presumably a handful of fully restored and race-ready TOM’s Supras floating around.
They did, after all, race between 1995-2001.
According to WhichCar, there’s a 1997 Toyota GT500 Supra sitting in the TRD warehouse all nice and shiny.
And check out this photo from Wikipedia of that same Supra sitting in a Toyota museum/lobby somewhere in Japan. Toyota is keen to keep a handful of their race winning Supras in tip-top shape for marketing and posterity’s sake.
On top of that, I think the timing was off. With a pandemic going on, people are holding onto their money only spending on essentials and the occasional “treat yo’ self” item/experience. People certainly aren’t going to throw money at a Super GT car they most likely will never see in-real-life.
If they don’t reach their goals, what are they going to do?
If TOM’s doesn’t get a large cash injection from Toyota or a generous donor, soon, I think they’ll restore this Supra as best they can and mothball it in their own warehouse, a full restoration at a future date. At the very least they should clean up the engine bay and give the interior/exterior a professional detail..
Either that or they can give the budget a serious rethink and come up with some realistic restoration goals given the lack of funds.