Every single thing you see around you, whether it be a computer, a building, a pair of shoes, or a Nerf gun, began as a design. Before that, it was an idea. But with a car, it starts a little differently. A design begins with a stroke of the pencil from which an idea may flourish, or be killed. You see, no car designer puts their pencil to the paper knowing exactly how their sketch will turn out. That is where the beauty of the concept lies. That first one millimeter thick graphite line could have been erased just as easily as it was drawn. Instead, it could become the spark for something phenomenal.
The latter is what thankfully happened when Alex Shen, studio chief designer and Toyota’s Calty Design Research in Newport Beach California, made his stroke on the paper. The result was what is now being heralded as “Akio’s Assault Vehicle” (Motortrend Magazine), or “the next generation Supra”. It is the new Toyota FT-1 concept. That word phenomenal feels almost oxymoronic as it seems all too characteristic of Toyota, yet still unexpected as we have forgotten its king-of-street-racing-reign and have turned our eyes to the everyday family movers. All of you kids that still get driven around in your mother’s Camry or Sienna, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Toyota FT-1. The name itself means Future Toyota 1 and begs for revolution. This meant many different challenges for the 65-person design team. It meant revolution against normalcy, and perhaps most importantly, it meant that the design team had to try their hardest to not create the features of the ever so famous Supra in their sketches. Ironic is not?
Nonetheless, although it may seem like any other concept car in the pictures, just as the FR-S or FT-HS, or Lexus LF concept did just a few years ago, the design of the FT-1 has many whimsical touches you can only appreciate upon further research. You always saw these ears on cars for rear view mirrors and thought they could never be cool, no matter how hard Camaro designers try to make them slim, but you never thought those mirrors could be hung this way did you?
At speed, a beautiful flush fitting rear wing raises a whopping 7.9 inches to assist the downforce created by the car’s venturi tunnels. Venturi Tunnels! The car actually has two tunnels over each rear fender the funnel out the back outside of the taillights! Not only that but it has twin fans that keep air moving to the radiators that are located underneath the headlights. To be honest, this car has more aerodynamic doodads and vents than an F/A 22 Raptor Stealth Fighter. The front of the car itself is obviously modelled to look like a F1 racer. This car simply has made-for-racing stamped all over it.
Inside, Interior Design wizard Bill Chergosky envisioned a slingshot concept, and the driver is the projectile inside this starfighter-esque cockpit. Of course, today, we don’t know the specifics of anything under the hood, but we can guess based on Toyota’s heritage, that it will be a straight six that is likely to be turbocharged. Maybe they will implement Volvo’s new technique of putting in Turbochargers AND superchargers? But for some reason that seems a little too make-a-wish to me.
The fact of the matter is Toyota has undeniably impacted the automotive world in many ways you may not yet recognize. Based on the much hyped concept and the attention it’s getting, it seems that the world has actually forgotten about Toyota’s actual design, technological, and futuristic advancement technology capabilities. The company at one point or another ruled the street in almost every category you can think of. Although you hear the jokes of comedians and auto bloggers alike about the “pretty blue lunchbox” of a Prius, you should be reminded that it was the first commercially produced hybrid car. Similarly, I know not everyone has already forgotten the legendary Supra, a car that became notoriously famous for challenging and in many cases smoking the far more expensive Italian Lamborghinis and Ferraris.
That’s what made the car cooler than a supercar to some people. Shen probably said it best, “It’s a Toyota. It ought to be affordable.” That being said, could we hope for a price tag around sixty grand? Shen thinks so. There is no doubt that this FT-1 will stay hyped for months to come. The reason is simple: Toyota has gained the trust of your average soccer mom, and it has gained the trust of racers before. I am sure they will do it again.
Sources: Motortrend Magazine