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Toyota FT-1 Concept: Supra Successor or Giant Tease?

2014-Toyota-FT1-Graphite-Concept-Supercar

For over a year now, talk of Toyota’s Supra successor has been running rampant in the automotive industry.

From its debut as a concept car, the FT-1 has been the model that people have in mind for Toyota’s next production supercar.

But it has now appeared at multiple auto shows and not hints about the manufacturer’s intent have been given.

However, it has logged plenty of miles in its virtual form. A special iteration of the FT-1 stars in Gran Turismo 6, one of Playstation’s most popular games.

But will it ever appear on the showroom floor of Toyota in Portsmouth, NH? That’s an excellent question. Here’s the low down on what’s happened so far.

What We Know About the FT-1

Toyota is responsible for producing some of the best quality vehicles sold today. The brand’s cars are known for their comfort and reliability.

However, sexy looks and wild thrills don’t really come to mind when someone talks about Toyota. And the brand knows it.

Over the past few years, Toyota representatives have stated that the company is aware that it needs to add a bit of pizazz to the lineup.

Even the manufacturer’s CEO, Akio Toyoda, has been calling on his designers and engineers to develop cars that conjure up wakudoki. Toyota defines the Japanese word as “a palpable heart-pounding sense of excitement.”

Well they certainly pulled that off with the FT-1. The front engine rear-wheel drive coupe is one of the most seductive sport cars America has ever set eyes on.

The long-nosed curvaceous concept showed up last year dressed in flashy red. Its uniquely aggressive shaping is part of Toyota’s focus on design flow, and the sculpting also contributes to the car’s aerodynamics.

Later in 2014, it made another appearance, this time coming off as remarkably Batmobile-esque. Finished in graphite and upholstered inside with premium saddle leather, the mid-2014 version was about as swanky as it gets.

Toyota’s website says, “The FT-1 concept is a symbol that captures elements of the emotion and energy we can expect to see in future Toyota vehicles designs. Its design is heavily influenced by Toyota’s long sports car tradition that includes vehicles such as 2000GT, Celica, Supra and most recently, FT-86 (Scion F-RS).”

In terms of details beyond appearance, there’s little to be had at this time. What would power the FT-1 is still a giant mystery. Some are intrigued by the new turbocharged engine that Lexus put into their recently introduced NX.

Others would like to see a high-tech hybrid powertrain, especially considering the expertise that both Toyota has in that area.

What We Know About Toyota’s Plans

Though nothing specific has been shared about the FT-1 heading to the factory, the automotive industry is buzzing with hype about the confirmed collaboration between Toyota and BMW.

They have publicly announced that they are jointly working on the creation of a supercar platform which will later be elaborated on and sold separately by each company.

They’ve been extremely secretive about what they’ve accomplished so far, but many people are speculating their collaboration may have a lot to do with an engine for the FT-1.

This month, Toyota and BMW have also expressed interest in working on a Mini together, so the relationship between the two manufacturers appears to be pretty solid.

Unfortunately, it may take awhile to find out how Toyota will choose to treat their version of the mutually-designed supercar platform.

However, if you just can’t stand the wait, try to catch up with Toyota at an upcoming auto show. They’ve made simulators of the FT-1 available at several events to give the public a chance to take a spin.

What History Tells Us

toyota-supra

If this car is to be anything like Toyota’s sports cars of the past, it has a lot to live up to. The brand might not be best known for their performance vehicles, but when they do it, they do it right.

Their 2000GT, which was manufactured between 1967 and 1970, is considered the first true Japanese supercar. It is also one of the most valuable collectibles around.

Then came the Celica, a car whose name stood for “heavenly.” The Celica remained an extremely popular Toyota model for decades until it was retired in 2005.

And of course, there was the Supra. Originally it was based on and sold as a Celica. But in its third generation, the Supra became its own separate entity and remained a rear-wheel drive sports car while the Celica was changed to front-wheel drive.

The 1987 Supra was given Toyota’s flagship engine, the turbocharged 7M-GTE. It could pump out 230 horsepower which was quite impressive at the time.

A luxurious look and feel, advanced technology, and sports enhancement packages all contributed to what made the Supra such a unique car.

Supras were also beloved by enthusiasts because they could be tuned to do some mind-blowing things. One tuned model even managed to produce 1,000 horsepower.

If that sets any kind of president, there’s no doubt that Toyota’s next venture into the world of sports cars is sure to be as unforgettable as its ancestors.

What the Word on the Street Is

When the FT-1 concept first made its debut, just about every automotive authority on the planet wanted to be the first one to get the real story about whether or not it would make it to production.

Countless rumors began flying around about confirmation of the FT-1’s future as the flagship member of Toyota’s lineup.

However, each time someone directly contacted Toyota to corroborate the story, a representative made it abundantly clear that no plans for production were in the works.

However, the FT-1 has now made several more appearances, and the enigmatic tryst between Toyota and BMW continues.

If the FT-1 was only ever intended to just fade away anti-climactically, why tease us so? Here’s the most likely story.

It’s clear that Toyota is definitely cooking up something that’s meant to spice up their image. They’ve been talking quite a bit about making new cars that will inspire. And they’ve verified that they’re currently designing a sports car platform with BMW.

Showing off the FT-1 is a great way to build hype while design and engineering efforts are still underway. While the ultimate result of all this might not be an exact replica of the FT-1, it’s probably going to share a lot of the same qualities.

Though Toyota has given no information about the release or pricing of their upcoming supercar, late last year, Car and Driver set some speculation in motion.

They supposedly talked to an inside source who told them that Toyota’s new model will probably cost more than a Corvette, so upwards of $55K.

No details were given about how much Toyota’s counterpart, BMW, would think about charging for their version.

Whether that scoop is at all accurate remains to be seen. However, fans are hopeful that the FT-1, if it ever makes it to production, will be sold at a reasonable price and not be served up as exclusive fare only.

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