NAIAS 2014: Toyota FT-1 Is “Ultimate” Proof That Toyota Still Wants Its Own Sports Car


About 15 years ago Toyota (as a whole) set fourth on a grand strategy.  They would put more resources behind their Lexus brand and prime it for the upcoming luxury-performance revolution and they would also launch a new youth brand Scion and reach out to a market segment that they weren’t quite hitting with the Toyota brand.  This strategy worked out great for Lexus and Scion as it eventually gave us cars like the IS-F and most recently the FR-S but for Toyota this path had an unfortunate side-effect: it drained any “performance” mojo that was left in the Toyota brand.  It brought the death of the Celica, the MR-2, and dimmed hopes that the legendary Supra would someday return.

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Then, with the success of Lexus and Scion the assumption among enthusiasts was that the Toyota brand didn’t really have an interest in producing performance cars anymore.  Scion has its FR-S and Lexus has its  “F Sport” cars so Toyota will just stick to Camrys and Corollas.  Well according to Toyota those assumptions are all wrong.  Sure, there hasn’t been a “Toyota” branded sports car in a long time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the desire to make one.  So, to prove that point Toyota made a sports car!  In fact they made a supercar!

Called the “FT-1”.  The “FT” stands for “Future Toyota” while the “1” represents the fact that this car is the ultimate “#1 Toyota”.  In short this is to Toyota what the LaFerrari is to Ferrari.  Spearheaded by the Calty Design Studio in Newport Beach, CA the FT-1 is Toyota’s message to the world that not only do they still love performance cars but they still have the desire to make them.  Inspired by the 2000GT, Celica, and Supra, the FT-1 is “sculpted by function” and made to really be the epitome of what Toyota could do when making a performance car and it really does look the part.  I can’t look at the FT-1 without a visceral, primal want to drive it!

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Although, as finished and fit as the FT-1 looks Toyota promises that it is only a concept and a message as to what they future may hold but they are careful not to refer to the FT-1 as the next “Supra” or “Celica” or “fill in the blank”.  However, despite the fact that the FT-1 is only a concept it can still be driven; just virtually.  Yes, the FT-1 is part of the Vision Gran Turismo project and is now a playable car in Gran Turismo 6 for Playstation 3 as you are reading this!  As cool as that is, I still hope that someday the FT-1 turns into a production car at some point…  For now you can click the thumbnails for HD resolution wall paper pictures.  For the full 72 picture gallery just visit our Facebook page, Google+ page, or Flickr page.  You can also scroll down for a few videos that go behind the scenes of the FT-1’s development and finally you can read the official press release for yourself below as well.  Enjoy it all!

Toyota FT-1 Concept Reveal Video:

Toyota FT-1 Overview Video:

Toyota FT-1 Idea to Reality Video:

Press Release:

DETROIT, Michigan (Jan. 13, 2014) – Toyota virtually blew the doors off the North American International Auto Show with the reveal of the stunning FT-1 sports car concept.  First devised by Calty Design Research in the Sony PlayStation Gran Turismo game environment, FT-1 leapt from the screen to the stage in a race-inspired press conference at COBO Hall.

The name says it all. FT-1 stands for “Future Toyota,” and the number “1” represents the ultimate. According to its designers at Calty Design Research, the FT-1 Concept is the ultimate expression of a Toyota coupe design, building upon Toyota’s rich sports coupe heritage dating back to the 2000GT, Celica, Supra, MR2 and most recently Scion FR-S. In addition, the concept draws inspiration from Calty’s more recent sports car concept work such as FT-HS (2007) and the Lexus LF-LC (2012).

The project started nearly two years ago and represents a labor of love by a passionate, dedicated and gifted Calty design team. “The FT-1 is a dream-project for a designer and car enthusiast like myself,” said Alex Shen, Calty’s Studio Chief Designer. “Our team was heavily influenced by Toyota’s sports car past, especially Celica and Supra, and we sought to capture some of that history.  It is an aggressive, track-focused sports car concept with a presence that has been amplified for shock and awe.”

The FT-1’s audacious design represents the pinnacle of Calty’s 40th year of operation. Guided by the Toyota design ethos of Vibrant Clarity, a unique fusion of both emotional and rational factors that delivers a more exciting and dramatic design expression with unique Toyota identity, the concept is a spiritual pace car for Toyota Global Design. The goal of this ideological shift is to develop future generations of products that better connect emotionally with Toyota’s global consumer base.

Traditionally, Toyota’s design decisions have been driven by consensus among a large group of stakeholders.  Under Akio Toyoda’s stated directive to invigorate Toyota products with energy, passion and “Waku-Doki” (translation: a palpable heart-pounding sense of excitement), the approval process has been streamlined.  This new approach aims to produce cars that connect more deeply with customers, generating a more satisfying ownership experience that complements Toyota’s legendary reputation for quality, dependability and reliability.

“Function-sculpting” design language yields curved, muscular, expressive body forms seemingly shaped by the wind.  Inlets, ducting, and vents are features of the exterior design that help reinforce its track–ready nature with elements of purposeful airflow management.  At higher speeds a retractable rear wing deploys and tilts forward to create additional downforce.  The body’s athleticism is expressed with taut surfaces and dramatic fender forms that seduce the eyes when covered in an unapologetically red hue.

The front engine rear-wheel drive configuration locates the cockpit far rearward within the wheelbase to improve weight distribution.  This design element also helps create the classic sportscar proportions one would expect from a vehicle poised to dominate even the most challenging road course. The cockpit’s wraparound windshield and side glass openings are a distinct nod to the design of the legendary Toyota 2000GT.

The interior is a focused, highly functional “place of business” that locates the driver at the controls behind an F1 inspired steering-wheel.  The intimate, low slung cockpit has its A-pillars set far back to help optimize cornering vision and sensation of the cabin’s intimacy.  A delta-shaped display zone surrounds and integrates the driver to provide an exhilarating sense of being connected to the vehicle.  The cockpit’s sense of minimalism adds to the purposefulness of the driver-focused environment with an emphasis on light weight components such as the composite seat covered with just the right amount of padding in only the areas that come into contact with the driver. A color heads-up display keeps the driver’s attention on the road ahead, with vital information projected just above the steering wheel within the driver’s line of sight.

While technical specifications do not accompany the concept, one can assume that the FT-1 represents an ideally balanced front-engine, rear wheel-drive layout that is powered by a high-technology, high performance internal combustion engine. Beneath a transparent glass hood, an ambiguous engine cover hides a powerplant left to the imagination of the onlooker.

In preparation for pitching the concept to Toyota management, Calty worked with Polyphony Digital, creators of the popular Gran Turismo driving simulator, to bring FT-1 to life in a virtual world that captured the excitement, passion and performance conveyed by the concept model.  Toyota executives were offered the opportunity to take FT-1 for a timed lap around a computer-generated Fuji Speedway.  Behind the wheel of the concept, Toyota president Akio Toyoda, an accomplished race car driver, completed the virtual circuit faster than his best real-world lap time at Fuji in his LFA.  From that moment, he was convinced and the concept was approved to be built in model-form for the international auto show circuit.

For Toyota, this concept embodies the possibilities of the new and exciting design mission ahead.  “Sports cars represent the ultimate driving expression in its purest form. As car enthusiasts ourselves, this is the kind of project we dream about working on,” said Calty Design Research president Kevin Hunter.  “Beyond its obvious five-alarm visual impact, FT-1 is symbolic of a new chapter for Toyota Global Design. This provocative concept truly captures the passion, excitement, and energy of the Toyota we are evolving into and embodies elements of the emotion and performance that Toyota will imprint upon future production designs.”

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