Is it the next Supra? Is it the next Lexus LFA? Is the Toyota FT-1 anything at all besides an ersatz styling concept meant to show that Camrys Incorporated is finally getting serious about instilling more passion in its designs? The answers to these questions won’t come for a year or two, at least. What we know now is that the FT-1 is an engine-less styling exercise from Toyota’s CALTY design studio in Southern California, and that it is available in full digital glory as part of Sony/Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo 6 video game.
another GT6-bound concept of this auto-show season, the Mercedes-Benz
AMG Vision Gran Turismo concept, the FT-1 is a dreamy “what-if?”
hyper-performance car rendered in real fiberglass and foam. It soon will
be available for download in the sixth installment of Gran Turismo and
Toyota president Akio Toyoda already has taken it for a few simulated
laps of Fuji Speedway.
For people more interested in real cars,
the FT-1, which tantalizingly stands for “Future Toyota 1,” is a loving
tribute to and pastiche of Toyota sports cars of blessed memory, from
the 2000GT to the MR2 to the final Supra and Scion FR-S. The concept is
meant as a realization of Mr. Toyoda’s dictate to instill more
“waku-doki,” or heart-palpitating excitement, into the company’s
traditionally straight-laced design. Part of that is streamlining the
design process so that fewer nit-pickers are allowed to water down a
studio’s vision into a bland consensus. Thus, CALTY was given the job of
turning out the FT-1 without meddling from overseas.
mechanical specifications are given, and although the nominally
front-engine, rear-drive FT-1 has a clear engine cover, the hardware is,
at the risk of putting too fine a point on it, nonexistent, or “left to
the imagination of the onlooker,” says the press bumf. If you were
hoping for a turbocharged inline-six, forget it. Those dinosaurs died
out long ago, although we could see a V-8 of 5.0 liters fitting nicely,
as it does in the Lexus RC F.
The minimalist cockpit is
F1-inspired and the A-pillars are pulled back, as in a prototype racer,
to give clearer vision into corners. A multicolor head-up display
punctuates the driver’s forward vision.
Rumors of a Supra revival
have swirled since the mid-2000s and thus far, conservative Toyota has
remained impervious to the challenges thrown down by the Nissan GT-R and
others. But something seems to be stirring at the big T—if not a new
sports car, then a fresh approach to sporty styling. And not a moment