Toyota FT-1 Concept
Toyota FT-1 Concept
Toyota FT-1 Concept
Toyota FT-1 Concept
Toyota FT-1 Concept. Click image to enlarge

Preview and photos by Jeff Wilson

DETROIT, Michigan – If you’re among the minority who still see video games as a silly pastime for pimply-faced dwellers of mom’s basement, you might want to rethink their significance.

In what has been described as a “dream project” for Alex Shen, Chief Designer for Calty Studios (Toyota’s California design studio), the FT-1 concept sports car was Toyota’s sole presentation at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The company best known for hybrid vehicles and high quality standards in recent years has shown it still has an interest in making passion-rich sports cars.

What sets the FT-1 apart from the norm is that it was first imagined in the virtual reality of the Sony PlayStation 3 game Gran Turismo 6. Started nearly two years ago, Toyota’s Calty Design Research studio was charged by Toyota President Akio Toyoda to infuse Waku-Doki (heart-pounding sense of excitement) – some much needed passion and energy – into the company’s designs.

Shen states that the design team was “heavily influenced by Toyota’s sports car past” and the cockpit’s wraparound windshield and side glass shape are particularly reminiscent of the legendary Toyota 2000GT.  Family resemblance to the Scion FR-S is also apparent.

The FT-1 embodies what Toyota calls “Function-sculpting” with air scoops, inlets and vents to properly manage air flow through and around the car at high speeds.  High-speed stability is also managed by increased down force at the rear thanks to a retractable, tilting spoiler similar to the one found on the Lexus LFA.

Despite being designed for maximum performance, the aggressive styling is arresting and exciting from all angles when viewed in person.

Inside, the intimate two-seat cockpit features an F1-style steering wheel.  A pillars are moved back as far as possible to help enhance visibility.  The composite seats feature minimal padding, suggesting a close tie to a road course–ready car.  Information is provided to the driver through a colourful head-up display.

Toyota remains unwilling to reveal what engine would power the FT-1, or even if it would be a hybrid power plant, so the window in the hood reveals only a generic faux engine cover.  The layout is claimed to be front-engine, rear-drive.

The FT-1 remained nothing more than an exciting computer concept until Toyota’s designers teamed up with Polyphony Digital (creators of the Gran Turismo game franchise).  When prepared for its virtual racing debut, Akio Toyoda – an accomplished race driver in his own right – was invited to “drive” the concept on the Fuji racetrack within the Gran Turismo 6 game. After completing the virtual lap faster than in his Lexus LFA, Toyoda granted permission to build the model-form of the FT-1 for launch at the Detroit show.

Toyota FT-1 ConceptToyota FT-1 ConceptToyota FT-1 Concept
Toyota FT-1 Concept. Click image to enlarge

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Manufacturer’s Website:
Toyota Canada

Photo Gallery:
Toyota FT-1 Concept

Of course, with a make-believe engine powered by unicorn blood and leprechaun magic, it is no wonder the FT-1 is quick in the virtual world.

Toyota promises that this is the first step toward their new design language for future products that will embody more passion for drivers.  For motoring enthusiasts pining for past sporty Toyotas, hope is renewed with the FT-1 for a future Supra to relive Toyota’s past sports car achievements.

Fans of the FT-1 who would like their own experience can download the playable concept for the Gran Turismo 6 game starting January 14, 2014.

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