1989 AAR-Toyota Eagle HF89 “MKII”
Five-time race winner and first Toyota GTP racecar to win a race
Driven by two-time IMSA champion Juan Manuel Fangio II
Designed and constructed by Dan Gurney’s All American Racers
Toyota 2.1-liter turbocharged engine - 815 horsepower, 614ft/lb of torque
Complete concours mechanical and cosmetic restoration by Canepa in 2017
Extensive testing, race preparation and setup performed
Eligible for historic racing in both U.S. and European events
IMSA’s GTP racing series is considered by many the height of prototype racing. Teams were required to come up with inspired designs from sets of rules that had them exploit every engineering loophole, often times resulting in designs that were radically different from one another. All American Racers (AAR) led by Dan Gurney were the premiere American team, having successfully won the IMSA GTO championship in their AAR-designed-and-built Toyota Celicas. Looking to go full bore and reign king of IMSA GTP, Toyota gave the green light and both AAR and Toyota began development on their newest creation, the HF89.
Tasked with the monumental design challenge of the GTP car was engineer Ron Hopkins and aerodynamicist Hiro Fuhimori. Using their initials, the car was officially named the HF89 and subsequently the HF90, but also known as the GTP MKII as it was Toyota and AAR’s second GTP design. Key in design of the day, the GTP cars focused on ground-effect aerodynamics which AAR had extensive experience with from the team’s Indy cars, also designed by Hopkins.
Conventional in design, the GTP MKII was built around an aluminum monocoque which featured a honeycomb core for reinforcement and produced an extremely rigid chassis. A separate rear subframe was used to mount the engine and gearbox. Suspension were double wishbones on all four corners, with the springs and dampers mounted almost vertically to make room for the ground-effect tunnels underneath the car.
The only engine that Toyota had available was the 2,140cc inline-4 engine, the same successful engine that was used in the championship Celica GTOs. Based on a production unit, it featured twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It initially produced over 600 horse-power, while being mated to a Hewland five-speed manual gearbox.
AAR signed Juan Manuel Fangio II to pilot the HF89, but the 1989 season proved to be a harder task than originally envisioned due to the boosted Toyota engine’s reliability. During the offseason that year, AAR worked tirelessly to modify the carbon-composite bodywork to increase engine cooling. The work paid off big time, with Fangio nabbing the pole position and taking the first GTP win for Toyota vs. Geoff Brabham’s Nissan at Heartland Park in Kansas. He would later go on to win at Sears Point, San Antonio, and Del Mar, finishing second place overall for that season. HF89 would race again with Fangio early in the 1991 season when he won at Watkins Glen before the new MKIII racer was ready later in the season. However, the car’s driving was not done, as it was then passed from Fangio to Rocky Moran.
Since AAR retired HF89, it remained well preserved during its time in different collections. AAR Toyota racing veteran Dennis Aase bought the car from the team and later had it refinished to its Topeka-winning livery. It was later displayed at the Museo Fangio in Balcarce, Argentina, as a showpiece. During its time spent away from the track, the car remained in a preserved yet non-running condition.
2015 marked the beginning of HF89’s long journey to its original GTP glory. Purchased by a client, Canepa was charged with the restoration to return the AAR/Toyota Eagle MKII back to its original specifications, restored to race condition and ready for historic racing. A 100% mechanical and cosmetic restoration took place that was period correct, fully sorted, and fully tested to provide an unparalleled experience for historic racing. Canepa embarked on the 2-year restoration, leaving no stone unturned, no surface untouched and every system restored. Upon completion, this AAR Eagle MKII HF89 became one of the finest restored GTP racecars in modern times.
The Eagle’s carbon-composite bodywork was removed from the body and placed to the side to inspect the inner workings of the chassis and its components. The suspension pieces were disassembled to allow better access to the inner workings of the chassis, with all parts catalogued during the disassembly. The engine, gearbox and rear subframe were unmated from the car, revealing what was now a bare aluminum monocoque. Underneath all of the inner panels were scribblings from team members who wrote down notes and messages during the building of the car. There was even a lucky quarter attached to the bottom of the chassis underneath the driver’s seat. These team mementos were saved during the restoration and remain on the car today.
With disassembly completely finished, phase two of Canepa’s prodigious restoration process began with the refinishing of every component on the car down to the last bolt. The aluminum monocoque was sanded and polished by hand with ultra-fine sandpaper, returning the surface finish to a gleaming clean surface. The integrated roll bar was refinished in black, and new rear firewall material was added to complete the monocoque. All suspension components were crack checked, refinished, and assembled with new hardware. The brake system was rebuilt, and new brake rotors were installed. Every surface on the vehicle was refinished in the proper surface finish, from paint to powder coat to anodizing. The transmission was rebuilt in house at Canepa, inspecting and replacing all components that needed servicing. In all, every system on this legendary GTP car was inspected, serviced or refinished as necessary, ensuring that everything was in proper working order.
The powerhouse of an engine was sent out to be rebuilt by best in the business, Advanced Engine Research of Essex, England. They were tasked with rebuilding the 2.1-liter turbocharged engine back to its original GTP-making power levels of 1989 and 1990. They fully inspected the stout powerhouse, tearing down the engine to each individual component to inspect it further. With an engine that is dependent on tight tolerances and is being pushed to the limit such as this, Advanced Engine Research spent their time and did their due diligence to ensure the engine performed flawlessly. Once the engine was built, it was thoroughly dyno tested and broken in according to the proper specifications, then shipped to Canepa to be installed into the Eagle. When final tuning was completed at Canepa, the 2.1-liter turbocharged engine produced a staggering 815 horsepower and 614 ft/lb of torque.
The carbon-composite high downforce bodywork was expertly repaired back to its original specifications with the Eagle receiving a true concours-level bodywork and paint process. The carbon-composite body panels were thoroughly adjusted and massaged to fit better than they ever have, and with the panels painted in white they were ready to accept the livery that the car sported in 1990. Countless vintage photographs were consulted to ensure that the livery placed on the car was accurate down the inch. Canepa even consulted with the All American Racers archives for unpublished photographs which allowed greater reference for period correctness. As you see the car today is how the car looked in 1990.
Since the completion of the Eagle MKII, the client revealed the restoration and participated in the 2017 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, 2017 Monticello Art in Motion Concours, and the 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. With current FIA papers that hold it eligible to race in Group C classes in Europe as well as U.S. historic events, this AAR/Toyota Eagle MKII is eligible in almost all vintage race events. With massive power on tap, built by a legendary team effort of AAR and Toyota, driven by the true legend Juan Fangio II and fully restored and race prepped by Canepa, this 1989 AAR/Toyota Eagle MKII HF89 is a GTP car will leave you grinning after every corner, straightaway and concours.
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