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These are Toyota’s wildest concept cars

  1. The Toyota FT-1 concept unveiled at this week’s Detroit Motor Show was a spectacular piece of design that managed to be simultaneously beautiful and bonkers.

    “It’s a sexy halo sports car, period,” explained Kevin Hunter, head of CALTY, the California Toyota design arm tasked with creating the FT-1. Two things the Toyota RSC concept in the picture above is not. Not sexy, nor a halo sports car.

    But the FT-1 was designed by CALTY way back in 2001. After the shock of the FT-1, we urgently felt the need to dive into Toyota’s concept back catalogue, where we discovered the RSC amongst many, many other gems.

    So strap in and get ready for a gallery of Toyota’s wilder design study moments. Warning: contains absolutely no Priuses.

    Vijay Pattni

  2. Toyota Hybrid R

    OK OK, so this is a Toyota Yaris, but it’s the kind of Yaris TG can get on board with, specifically because it’s got a seriously boosted 1.6-litre ‘Global Race Engine’ producing 400bhp. It also utilizes tech from the TS030 Le Mans racer (recovering brake energy and storing it for added poweeerrr), making it a four-wheel-drive supermini.

    Bonkers rating: C+

  3. Toyota FV2

    Unveiled at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, this concept doesn’t actually have a steering wheel, instead moving from one calamity to the next by the driver physically shifting his or her body forwards, back, left or right. Kind of like a Segway 2.0. It also uses voice and image recognition to determine the driver’s mood and driving history to suggest destinations; if you’re anything like us, your gurning, terrified expression while shifting around will be stored for all eternity, the FV2 deducing you’re having a heart attack and directing you to the nearest A&E department.

    Bonkers rating: C

  4. Toyota Aygo Crazy

    Ah, the British Motor Show. Remember those heady days in the Docklands? We do, because we saw this one-off, 200bhp Aygo. Toyota thought it prudent to fit a 1.8-litre VVTi MR2 engine in the back, together with a turbo to give it a 0-62mph time of less than six seconds, and a top speed of 125mph. Plus, that rear wing is straight from a 200mph US Champ Car.

    Bonkers rating: C+

  5. Toyota Aygo DJ

    Another Aygo concept for an earlier British Motor Show. In 2006 - the same time as Top Gear telly was attempting an indoor speed record in an F1 car - Toyota decided a bright orange city car was a prime candidate for a mobile beach DJ booth.

    Bonkers rating: C-

  6. Toyota CS&S

    Compact, Sports & Speciality, that’s what the name stands for, and it was built for the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show to showcase a hybrid car of the future. There are shades of the Veyron over the rear haunches. There are shades of ‘awwww’ over the front. There is a 1.5-litre engine driving the rear wheels and an electric motor on the front axle. If only the Prius looked like this.

    Bonkers rating: B

  7. Toyota Fun VII

    This was a 2012 Geneva concept, designed to offer “the ultimate in personalisation”: the entire vehicle body is used as a display area. Like a giant, mobile digital billboard.

    Bonkers rating: C-

  8. Toyota FINE-S

    This is a “bold demonstration of the design freedom offered by Toyota’s adaptable fuel cell system”. Unfortunately, this bold design freedom didn’t really extend to the company’s production cars of the era (this concept came out in 2003), but still. There was a hydrogen fuel cell system with independent electric drive to all four wheels.

    Bonkers rating: B+

  9. Toyota FT-HS

    Now we’re talking. Revealed in 2007, this not only previewed a potential Supra replacement, but was hailed as the future of ‘fun motoring’, with Toyota claiming modern drivers are concerned not only by fastness, but also eco-ness. We plainly lost that memo. Though this concept featured a 3.5-litre V6 engine together with a hybrid system producing 400bhp, good for a 0-62mph in the fours. Plus, just look at the thing. What a Thing.

    Bonkers rating: A-

  10. Toyota FXS

    We’re going back to 2001, and a 4.3-litre V8-powered two-seat roadster. Yes, and please. It’s called the ‘Future Experimental Sports’, with a rigid, permanently open body and that V8 matched to a six-speed sequential manual gearbox. There are double wishbones all round„ hidden underneath a wide, low slung body. “Will it be built?” Toyota weirdly asks itself in the press release of the day. “Who knows?” comes the response. From Toyota. Sorry to spoil the surprise, but… they didn’t build it.

    Bonkers rating: A-

  11. Toyota FT 86/FT-86 II

    The predecessors to today’s GT86 (a Top Gear Car of the Year winner, don’t forget), now almost a distant memory but at the time a tantalising step back into the world of cool sports cars for Toyota. A 2.0-litre boxer engine, lightweight construction and the emphasis on ‘fun’ were the key points of note here. Some concepts do become reality.

    Bonkers rating: B

  12. Toyota i-Real

    The ultimate in personal mobility, we were promised at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. Think posh, electrified sofa chair with perimeter monitoring sensors and ‘safe’ handling.

    Bonkers rating: C+

  13. Toyota MTRC

    It’s 2004, and Toyota wants us to imagine a future where drivers want a single car for a full-on motorsports orgy. It’s called the Motor Triathlon Race Car, a two seater that goes off-road, can race in city circuits and on track. Power comes from four in-wheel electric motors powered by a Toyota fuel cell stack, and was deemed worthy enough to include in Gran Turismo 4. Looks-wise, think steroidal ant and you’re about there.

    Bonkers rating: B+

  14. Toyota RSC

    Ah, the ‘Rugged Sport Coupe’. Unveiled at the 2001 Chicago Motor Show, this was designed by CALTY to connect with the yoof of, erm, 2001. Who are now, sadly, no longer yoof. It sat on the RAV4 base, took design cues from WRC cars, and demonstrated exactly what happens when Toyota let its hair down. But wouldn’t you just love to see one of these on the road? OK, maybe just us then.

    Bonkers rating: B+

  15. Toyota Alessandro Volta

    Though it appeared in 2004, it could have been beamed straight from the mid 90s. The Alessandro Volta was the work of Toyota and Giugiaro, and named after the Italian physicist who invented the battery. It featured a 3.3-litre V6, two electric motors, four-wheel-drive and 402bhp. 0-62mph? Four seconds. Top speed was 155mph. Didn’t reach production, as you might have spotted.

    Bonkers rating: B

  16. Lexus 'Minority Report' concept

    OK, so it’s not strictly a Toyota, but Lexus is part of the carmaking giant, and thus we come to 2002’s concept built for Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi thriller. The car debuted at the LA Motor Show, featured cab-forward seating and a design philosophy that didn’t differentiate between a proper ‘front’ and ‘rear’.

    Bonkers rating: B+

  17. Lexus LF-NX

    Oh dear. With a small battalion of gorgeous LF-A concepts and smaller two-door sportscar coupe concepts, Lexus was on a roll. Until last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and the premiere of the LF-NX crossover thing. We won’t say any more, because we don’t really need to.

    Bonkers rating: UNRATED

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