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Toyota’s FT1 Concept Ushers in New Design Era

The Toyota FT1 Concept Sports Car

In one awe-inspiring showing, the Toyota FT1 changed what everyone thought they knew about Toyota and the sports car.

Originally debuting at the North American International Auto Show, the FT1 sports car concept was devised by Calty Design Research in the Sony PlayStation Gran Turismo game environment. It made the leap from screen to the stage in a race-inspired press conference at COBO Hall.

Standing for Future Toyota 1, the FT1 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 FRS. It also draws inspiration from Calty’s more recent sports car concept work like the FTHS (2007) and the Lexus LFLC (2012.)

Nearly two years in the making, the FT1 represents a labour of love by a passionate, dedicated and gifted Calty design team

“The FT1 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.

Celebrating 40 years of Calty design, the FT1 is meant to usher in a new era of Toyota Global Design where the focus is to develop future generations of products that better connect emotionally with Toyota’s global consumer base, generating a more satisfying ownership experience that complements Toyota’s reputation for quality, dependability and reliability.

The FT1 has been sculpted with functionality in mind. And that function is speed. Inlets, ducting, and vents are features of the exterior design that help reinforce its track–ready nature. At higher speeds a retractable rear wing deploys and tilts forward to create additional downforce.

The front engine rear wheel drive configuration locates the cockpit far rearward within the wheelbase to improve weight distribution while creating the classic sports car 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 Toyota 2000GT.

The interior locates the driver at the controls behind a Formula 1-inspired steering wheel. The intimate, low slung cockpit has its A-pillars set far back to help optimize cornering vision and give the 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.

A colour 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. What powers the majestic car is left up to the imagination for now. Beneath a transparent glass hood, an ambiguous engine cover hides the engine, just hinting at the power underneath.

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, FT1 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.”

If the FT1 is any indication of the direction Toyota is going, the competition just got left in the dust

Randy Saunders

West Coast Toyota