At every first Saturday of the month, the Toyota Collection in Cologne/Germany opens its doors for car fans and provides a free view of the rich brand history. Most of the exhibits have been collected by a Bavarian dealer over decades and were taken over by the Toyota Deutschland GmbH after his death a few years ago. In the meantime, some more exhibits were purposely purchased to expand the collection. However, one car is only rarely seen inside the exhibition because it literally collects miles. It is a dark grey Lexus LS 400 of the first model generation, which was bought back by Toyota. By that time, it had plenty of mileage, meanwhile the odometer effortlessly crossed the million kilometer mark and so sat back to down to 000,000, because modern tachos only show six digits.
Both the powerful V8 engine and the automatic transmission are – apart from their oil content and certain wear parts – still in original condition and enjoy good health. Thus, the Toyota Collection likes to share this vehicle with classic car magazines or use it along other exhibits at different events throughout Europe to underline the endurance features and longevity of their products. In addition, the works collection shows a beautiful cross-section of the various model series, which were available officially or partly only via detours on the German market.
Since every public opening of the Toyota Collection has a specific motto, the event on last Saturday was use for ownersd to launch the ‘High Mileage Club’ for owners of Toyota and Lexus vehicles with more than 200,000 kilometers of mileage. For this purpose, they invited customers via Facebook, an eMail newsletter and dealer letters and received excellent feedback. Not only from the immediate vicinity, but also from the rest of Germany, from the Netherlands, Belgium and even Switzerland participants arrived with their cars. No wonder, as a few more kilometers more or less don’t matter for these vehicles anymore. On the contrary, everyone was very proud of the experiences gained.
Thomas Heidbrink, product press spokesman at Toyota Deutschland, introduced each new club member individually and awarded certificates. In addition, they got stickers with the respective 100,000-km-mark or, from 500,000 kms upwards, a metal badge. Exciting was the diversity among those frequent travelers. From the classic professional driver to buyers of cheap used cars with high mileage to collectors everything was represented. Rouven Dalmer is a little out of the ordinary: Due to his disabilities he needed a vehicle with a special conversion and found this in the form of a used and already converted Toyota RAV-4 with about 180,000 kms (about 111,846 mls). This mileage is already impressive, but would not have been enough for a membership in the High Mileage Club. Meanwhile, the odometer is already at 379,000 kilometers (about 235,500 mls) and will continue to rise, as Mr Dalmer betrayed.
The automotive star among the high-mileage candidates, however, was not in the parking lot but in the exhibition hall. While the owner from Berlin himself was prevented, he sent a representative of his dealer ‘Motor Company’ from the German capitol to Cologne to show his nondescript, grey Avensis Station Wagon. This car is actually in the original condition with the first engine and first gearbox as well as the original interior, as we learned on demand. Only small details such as the worn gearshifter or minimal cracks in the left flank of the driver’s seat give an indication of mileage.
On the body, the most prominent feature is a rust perforation above the windshield, which should be addressed by the owner as soon as possible. Otherwise, it is doubtful if this car will reach doubling of the current mileage. However, since the rest of the body presented itself in the state of a much younger used car and in the engine compartment only no abnormalities except a rusty battery carrier could be found, this Avensis is likely to make a lot more travels with its owner. How much mileage it currently has? 1,013,510 kilometers (629,765 miles) in 17 years! In other words, this station wagon runs 4,082 kilometers per month, mostly with only the driver in the car. “Probably noone has ever sat in the back seat – except some bags or jackets,” said the representative of Berlin-based Motor Company.
For the next planned meeting of the High Mileage Club in the fall of 2019, the Avensis from Berlin will probably not cross the mark of 1.1 million kilometers. Nevertheless, the organizers from the Toyota Collection hope for an expansion of their idea and various vehicles, which can be awarded with certificates. Such appreciation on the part of a factory or official importer would also be than desirable for other brands. But even if you do not own a Toyota and just want to take a look at the history of the Japanese carmaker, it’s worth making a detour to Cologne and the Toyota Collection. The next public opening will take place on 3 November between 10:00am and 2:00pm.
Images: Matthias Kierse, Katrin Pitsch