An enthusiast’s tribute to the Toyota brand
Two hundred sixty kilometers north of Manila is where you will find a car museum dedicated to one brand of vehicles: R Garage.
Why will you drive that far, you ask? Auto museums are not exactly new, even in the Philippines. What’s unique is R Garage is the first of its kind in Asia outside Japan: the biggest collection of Toyota that visitors can see.
R Garage, located in the town of Bauang, La Union is currently housing over fifty Toyota vehicles consisting of rare and vintage models. Some are even considered legendary. And last November 11, R Garage welcomed visitors to get a peek at what they have to offer, including the president of Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation: Atsuhiro Okamoto.
And it was Okamoto himself that confirmed it: "R Garage is the largest collection of Toyota vehicles outside Japan."
R Garage is the project and curated Toyota collection of Mr. Richmond Glenn So. Why Toyota? Well, Richmond is the General Manager of Toyota La Union. He also happens to be the son of the founder of the Toyota dealership group, making R Garage a rather unique father-and-son project.
"My son Richmond told me he bought an old Toyota AE86 and wanted to restore it. At first, I was skeptical because my son is crazy; when he gets into something he will spend so much time on it then if he loses interest, he will just give away everything. But I know he will learn from it so I encouraged him to continue. I know in my heart that this is the best way for him to learn more about cars," shared Rene So.
According to Rene, his son was actually more passionate about basketball before getting involved in the Toyota brand. In fact, this location was supposed to be a basketball court because of his fondness for the sport.
"Those close to me would know that I had zero interest in cars before being exposed to and immersed in Toyota. But everything changed when I fell in love with Toyota. The cars that you see in this garage is the proof of my passion and love for Toyota. There are many nice cars made by other brands that I appreciate, but I will never own one because my heart is exclusively for Toyota only," says Richmond So, R Garage co-founder.
As Richmond's interest in cars grew, he acquired more models for his collection and slowly filled up the warehouse where they housed the units. Rene thought that it would be better to have a proper place to store the cars rather than in a warehouse. During one of their talks, Rene suggested to Richmond that it is better for them to build a car collection museum rather than a basketball gym, which you can find anywhere.
Thus, R Garage was born.
"The cars that you will see in R Garage are probably not the best cars in terms of their present condition. I am almost certain that you can find an A80 Supra that is built better elsewhere in the country. Or an AE86 that has been restored more elegantly. R Garage is not about being the best, but about becoming better every time we restore another car. So you can clearly see that the cars we restored the most recent are in a far better condition than the ones we restored first," said Richmond, the man behind the collection.
"As a Toyota dealer for 27 years, and with the car collection that we have. Making a museum would be the best way of honoring Toyota for allowing us to be part of its national and global family. And it is also one of our ways of giving back to society," concluded Mr. Rene So.
R Garage is located beside Toyota La Union and will be open to the public from December 7, 2022. They plan to open it for free during the first month as a Christmas present to fellow car enthusiasts. Find @rgarageph on Facebook and Instagram for more info.