Futuristic sports car sets tone for Toyota design
Using styling themes inspired by F1 racing, the Toyota FT-1 concept unveiled in Detroit is said to set the future design direction for the Japanese automaker. Executives stopped short of saying whether the car would go into production or be the future successor to vehicles like the limited run 2000GT or the higher volume Supra sport coupe.
The project started nearly two years ago at Toyota's California-based Calty design team. The studio recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. "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."
Details were also sparse on the mechanical package, which includes a front-mounted internal combustion engine and rear drive. Fitted with a transparent glass hood, the FT-1 has "an ambiguous engine cover [which] hides a powerplant left to the imagination of the onlooker." It's rumored that such a vehicle would likely have a hybrid powertrain. And there was also speculation that the concept could provide the basis of a recently announced joint venture between Toyota and BMW to produce a sports car.
The FT-1 features a racing-inspired minimalist cockpit with head-up display and steering wheel controls. The wheel is also flanked by column-mounted paddle shifters for the transmission. The cockpit's Spartan design emphasizes lightweight 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.
Other racecar inspired styling cues can be seen in the front splitter, which looks like the nose of a formula car and large rear scoops in the rear fenders for what appear to be rear-mounted radiators. "Function-sculpting" design resulted in curved, muscular, expressive body forms that flow front to rear. The car is also fitted with a retractable rear wing that deploys and tilts forward to create additional downforce at speed.
According to Calty Design president Kevin Hunter, "the 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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