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The Ultimate Toyota Restoration: The Backstory

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In the mid-1950s, Xavier Quirós Oreamuno, an agricultural engineer, was managing a banana plantation in the southeast of his native Costa Rica. Needing a couple of rugged sports-utility vehicles for the plantation, he was drawn to the Toyota Land Cruiser FJ25 he saw in a magazine ad. Yet, even before they arrived from Japan, Mr. Quirós Oreamuno had already found willing buyers and resold them. He liked the automotive sales business so much that, by 7 January 1957, he had moved to the Costa Rican capital of San José and founded Purdy Motor to become the fourth-oldest Toyota distributor in the world outside of Japan. (The Purdy name, by the way, comes from a British gentleman named Harry Perry Purdy, who was instrumental in exploring the gold mines in Costa Rica’s Abangares canton of the northwestern Guanacaste province. Xavier Quirós Oreamuno’s father also happened to be the comptroller of Mr. Purdy’s company).

During the 1960s, a good number of Central and South American countries passed laws (eventually repealed between 1979 and 1982) requiring that all automobiles sold there be assembled locally from CKD (completely knocked-down) kits. Costa Rica was no exception, and, in 1964, Mr. Quirós Oreamuno founded ECASA in order to follow this ruling. By September of the following year, ECASA was assembling not only Toyota’s Corona and Land Cruiser vehicles, but a number of American Motors/Rambler models as well (Purdy Motor also distributed AMC/Rambler vehicles in Costa Rica between 1959 and 1970). In contrast, business ties between the Quirós family’s ECASA assembly operations and Toyota grew closer when, in 1973, the carmaker purchased a 20% stake in ECASA, and, eventually, Toyota’s Costa Rica-built offerings grew to include the Starlet, Corolla and Crown models. Around that time, then-Toyota president Eiji Toyoda paid a visit to Costa Rica to inspect the ECASA facilities. Relations between the Quirós and Toyoda families were cordial enough but strictly businesslike until…

An unexpected coincidence
Xavier Quirós Oreamuno groomed his two sons, Javier and Amadeo, to follow in his footsteps in the family business. After Javier (or, more properly, Javier Quirós Ramos de Anaya), the oldest of the two, achieved a degree in economics from the University of Costa Rica, he moved to the United States for post-graduate studies. Seeking a master’s degree in business administration, Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts near Boston emerged as a natural since, in the words of James B. Treece of Automotive News

The school’s mission is to educate scions of family-owned companies so they can take over the business. Edsel Ford II is another alumnus.

Javier found a fairly large apartment in the Boston area but, given the city’s notoriously high housing costs, sought out a roommate to share expenses. He rejected a number of potential candidates due to their open drug use, too much of a hard-partying ethos or, simply, incompatible personalities. Then, in a private academy that teaches English to foreigners, he met a sports-loving Japanese young man. The two soon bonded over a shared love for tennis, racketball and cars. Javier had finally found an ideal college roommate. His name? Akio Toyoda.

From late-blooming go-kart racer to Costa Rica’s Gallery of Sport hall of fame
Although Javier Quirós was always a fan of motorsport, he was hardly a child prodigy go-kart racer in the manner of, say, Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton. As Javier told Juan Manuel Fernández of Costa Rica’s Mercados & Tendencias magazine:

Neither mom nor dad would let me race. I started in 1978 (at age 22), when I bought a go-kart. I bought it in exchange for a sound system, a collection of die-cast model cars and 300 colones (less than $1 at today’s exchange rate) I’d saved up.

In only his second season, Mr. Quirós was already a national karting champion, and he then branched out to other forms of motorsport such as autocross and promoting and competing in off-road, dirt, mud and gravel disciplines such as quadcross (in 4-wheel ATVs), rallycross and 4×4 challenges. His greatest accomplishments, however, would come in on-track endurance sports car racing. Having won 21 national titles (primarily in the 3 Hours of Costa Rica events at La Guácima racetrack), Javier started racing abroad, first throughout Central America, then in the Caribbean (Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic) and, finally, in the United States. There, he joined Tom Milner’s Prototype Technology Group (PTG), which was contracted by BMW North America as the brand’s primary U.S. motorsports research and development team for the BMW M3. After 3rd-in-GTS-2 class results at the 1996 Rolex 24 at Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, Javier Quirós was part of the team of drivers that won both events outright in the GTS-3 class the following year.

An impressed BMW hoped to lure Mr. Quirós to Europe to drive for their European factory team, but obligations to family and Purdy Motor led him to turn down this undoubtedly flattering offer. But was he being, perhaps, unfaithful to Toyota in driving for BMW in the first place? Well..let’s just say that Javier was, in a sense, foreshadowing the BMW/Toyota sports car joint venture announced over 15 years later! As another random aside, we’ll note that BMW and PTG remained partners until 2006, at which point PTG and Tom Milner were very briefly linked to rumors of a Team Lexus Grand Am takeover from Chuck Goldsborough before casting his lot with Panoz.

That was hardly the end of Javier Quirós’ motorsports career. Two more international highlights occurred in 2009, when he joined forces with drift champion Akira Iida and Akio Toyoda (using his not-so-secret Morizo pseudonym) in one of the pre-production Lexus LFA racing prototypes and won the SP8 class of April’s VLN 4 Hours of the Nürburgring race. As Quirós told Costa Rica’s Nación.com:

At the time Morizo handed the car over to me, we were in 4th place in the SP class and in 72nd place overall – out of a total of 170 vehicles… I started driving and getting used to the car…until I finally positioned it first in class and 33rd overall…An hour and 10 minutes later, I handed the car over to Iida again, who simply held that position…

This victory meant an automatic, no-qualification-needed invitation to the following month’s VLN 24 Hours of the Nürburgring race. As Mr. Quirós joyfully noted:

…I’m going to the beach in Costa Rica and I’ll be back for the race.

Alas, the Lexus LFA wasn’t as fortunate in the 24-hour race, as halfway through the race a faulty alternator caused them a 4½-hour delay, and a 6th in class/87th overall finish.

Javier Quirós (left) and Amadeo Quirós, Sr. (right) with their NGT Motorsport Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA racers.

Javier Quirós (left) and Amadeo Quirós, Sr. (right) with their NGT Motorsport Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA racers.

For a while, this appeared to be Javier Quirós’ last hurrah in motorsports, as he announced his retirement from racing in 2010. His accomplishments did not go unnoticed, however, as the Galería Costarricense del Deporte (Costa Rica’s Gallery of Sport hall of fame) announced his induction in late October 2013. But, like a couple of sportsman Michaels (Jordan and Schumacher) that come to mind, retirement was a temporary matter. This year, Javier has returned to competitive motorsports in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA racing series, driving the #27 car for the Miami, Florida-based NGT Motorsport team. Among his fellow competitors, in the #28 car, is his brother Amadeo. Speaking of which…

We mustn’t forget little brother’s contributions
Although Javier is the primary public face of Purdy Motor (now Grupo Purdy with Costa Rica, Internacional and NAC aftermarket parts divisions) and the company’s main liaison with Japan, we should note 2 year-younger brother Amadeo’s accomplishments in his own right. As vice president of Grupo Purdy, he is in charge of domestic development, general management, strategic planning and is described as very detail-oriented. in 2005 he was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Costa Rica’s Chamber of Commerce.

And, of course, Amadeo has his own racing career. In fact, it was he who first paved the way for the Quirós family’s current Porsche GT3 drives, back in 2009 with AASCO Motorsports. Amadeo’s best seasons were 2010, when he finished third on points in the Platinum Cup Championship, and 2013, when he repeated that feat. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one more member of the family…

Quirós: the next generation
The intertwined stories of Purdy Motor and the Quirós family may have started with patriarch Xavier Quirós Oreamuno and continued with his sons Javier and Amadeo Quirós Ramos de Anaya, but that is hardly the end of it. Amadeo’s son, Amadeo Quirós Martén is already writing the next chapter, one that covers some very familiar ground. During 2010, he worked at Toyota Motor Sales in the United States, was a summer intern at Lexus College and competed in the Porsche GT3 Cup USA’s Gold Cup Challenge, where, in 9 races, he scored 2 wins, 5 podium finishes and started from pole position in 2 races. This was good for a 4th-place overall for the season. Afterwards, he followed uncle Javier’s footsteps into Babson College and is now in charge of Purdy Motor’s Lexus Costa Rica.

Javier Quirós and his Toyota 2000GT

Javier Quirós and his Toyota 2000GT

The ultimate Toyota and Lexus sports car enthusiast
Perhaps Javier Quirós’ main claim to international fame is the long and short videos of his jubilant donuts in his new Red (code 3P0) Lexus LFA #014 (in honor of the #14 used in most of his race cars). But owning that LFA was simply a matter of deciding what interior and exterior colors and options he wanted (including one-of-a-kind fog lights as developed by TOMs for the Nürburgring LFA race cars), writing a check and sending the order off to Japan. Finding a rarer-than-an-LFA Toyota 2000GT, however, would prove to be a much bigger challenge. Back in the 2000GT’s late 1960s heyday, none were ever sold in Costa Rica. The closest a new one ever came was a single car sold in El Salvador, and that one, after a racing rollover mishap, was sent off to the United States. Indeed, Javier Quirós’ quest for a Toyota 2000GT is one that would make detours along several countries and a continent or two between Japan and Costa Rica. And that tale will be told in an upcoming Kaizen Factor story.

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