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Toyota previews some future aggression with the FT-1 concept


January 15, 2014

The Toyota FT-1 premieres at the 2014 North American International Auto Show

The Toyota FT-1 premieres at the 2014 North American International Auto Show

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Easily one of the wildest concept cars at the North American International Auto Show, the Toyota FT-1 bridges Toyota's sporty past with what the company promises will be a daring and aggressive future. The "spiritual pace car for a changing, evolving Toyota" previews what Toyota hopes is its most exciting generation of vehicles ever. Put simply, the FT-1 is the Future of Toyota, example Number 1.

The FT-1 looks like a wild concept piece created solely for a dramatic overnight spike in company buzz. The type of concept car that disappears a couple months after its debut without a modicum of impact on production. However, straight from Toyota, the FT-1 is a more substantial concept car, a first look at its design future. It's a future that reflects Akio Toyoda's directive for high-energy, emotional vehicles that make drivers scream out "I want this!" A move away from safe, survey-approved car designs and toward riskier, more impactful vehicles.

"Beyond its obvious five-alarm visual impact, FT-1 is symbolic of a new chapter for Toyota Global Design," explains Calty Design Research president Kevin Hunter. "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."

The concept previews the future but draws heavily on the past, pulling inspiration from sports cars like the 2000GT, Celica and Supra. The radical styling is also based heavily on the not-so-radical strategy of "Function-Sculpting." Elements like the beaky, Enzo-lite front-end and raised wing may seem rooted in visual impact, but they're actually more about functionality. The various carves and cuts are built to "manage dirty air" and deliver cooling to the mechanicals behind the cavernous body. The retractable rear wing deploys and tilts forward at high speeds, cranking up downforce.

Inside, the functional sculpting takes on a lightweight form. Toyota saves on weight and materials by using just enough padding in the areas most likely to come into contact with the driver and passenger.

The driver-centric "slingshot" cabin is as sporty as the exterior, designed to be the place where serious driving business gets done. A jet-inspired, color heads-up display shoots information straight ahead, keeping the driver informed but fully focused on the road ahead. Steering wheel-mounted controls prevent the hands from being distracted from the primary duty of keeping the car planted squarely on the road or track.

Toyota didn't design the FT-1 with a specific engine in mind, but it's clear about the car being a rear-wheel drive powered by an internal combustion engine. The concept includes a glass-paneled hood designed to give onlookers a glimpse at the powerplant below.

Some media reports suggest that the FT-1 design may preview more than just general design language, possibly showing a rough look at an eventual Supra successor. Toyota remains mum on that prospect, but it will offer sports car enthusiasts the chance to track-test the FT-1 concept car ... by way of a driving simulator in the Gran Turismo 6 video game. Akio Toyoda was one of the first to try the simulation, and he beat his best real-life Lexus LFA lap time on the Fuji Speedway. GT6 owners can now download the concept car themselves.

Source: Toyota

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

In the past decade, car companies unashamedly have taken to copying each others' successful design elements more than ever. The Japanese have done this copycat styling longer than anyone, and this exercise from Toyota has Italian written all over it.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Perhaps.

It's all about profit margins, really. Much about car design today is overdone. They should restrain themselves more, because one of the golden rules in art is; it's always better to underplay than to overdo.


This looks like something a teenage boy would doodle - all scoops and vents most of which are completely unnecessary, I'm surprised there are no fake rocket launchers. If you need a lesson in tasteful design look at a McLaren or Aston Martin: "less is more".

Sheldon Cooper

I like it all overdone, show some imagination. Unfortunately imagination is not involved here.

Jimbo Jones

Looks to me like we have entered the age of hideous Hollywood mad max bullcrap.

Lewis Dickens

It would appear the designers of Toyota's FT-1 were trying way to hard. It seems they could not figure out when enough, is actual enough!

Their end results takes on an almost "cartoonistic" character. Like something you might see manufactured as a "Hot Wheels" toy.

What ever happened to using a bit of sophistication in their overall design concept?


Speed Racer

Lovelace Philippe

It's a good start but not enough toyota design team, first of all, you have the back automatic downforce wing, but where is the automatic front downforce wing. Second, why rear drive instead go 4 wheel drive. Third, why only sports car instead it should be sports car, seden van, truck, and van. Lastly, instead of traditional out dated engine tech with abounch sensors, can your team re-engineer and modernize the engine to be multilinked engine that is one engine per tire that driven to the intended horsepower instead of the old outdated engine tech that everyone is using in this world currently. Please really pass this to toyota corporation teams man, you are one of the giant that the world trust and use everyday, it is time for your team to make things happen the honest, responsible way to truly modernize the machine man. Be a good leader earning good money by truly monderize different aspect of the machine instead of just another look man and I mean including the safety instead of just another fancy sensor gadgets. Your corporation holds the top selling volumns out there shouldn't all of you steping up now to modernize all of the aspect now. Materials man, using tungsten, lead, and boron alloy and turn into sheets, than bonding them together to have end product that is one piece instead, it allows even thinner material to even meet up with the same strength which eventually leads to lighter weight as it further develop even though I prefer you still meet up with the same weight as current machine which leads to stronger and safer machine man. Hey Toyota corporation, even I have a lot of family and friends using your machine so it's time for you to be truly responsible and make this thing happen man, don't put asians at risk man, shouldn't your team think twice, you are hearing asians speaking to you on this man, just make it happen and I will be watching, if you can make it happen I will definitely continue to buy you machines man and I own one of your lexus already so I am not speaking out of blue.

Derrick Chen

Historically the best designers use minimal fake add-on lines and form and this FT-1 also shows that high caliber. All the sour grapes above with 'overdone scoops' 'completely unnecessary', 'Speed-Racer' 'cartoons', 'Hot wheels' etc totally miss a key point in good design that form follows function first.

Scoops and vents that feed direct cooling air to hot brakes and engines are a very worthy function and I see hardly any fussy lines for the sake of themselves like too many designers use today. The only potential unnecessary detail is the glass hood unless it also allows hot air to escape possibly in a raised rear gap. Then its also removable for hot weather racing.

The permanent body and adjustable Kamm effect wing hopefully also has an adjustable front ground effects scoop using a different color to be very functional with its paint destruction location.

There seems to be little to no fakeness anywhere so Toyota this time did very well. I hope Subaru's WRX will keep returning back to its early no bs design after too many years off target.


Koenigsegg called. They'd like their roof curves back. Please.


Derrek Chan - You seems to want a automotive version of a 'Transformer'. To a lot of the other posters - Read it again, the story says most of the 'flashy' scoops are there for a reason, not just as showy bits. For myself, it was designed as a sports car, let it be a sports car. At least it is not so much of a bland, one-size-fits-all design that could swap a dozen makers' badges and nobody would notice.

The Skud

What the hell are you guys talking about the front end on this looks better than a 458 to my eyes The rear end might need some work.

Jason Cormier

To repond to that first I am toyota corporation product user and are there children friend back in the high school days and they follow some of my concepts back in the high school days turn it into perfection with adjustments. No it's not transformer instead giving future vision to my Toyota friends to turn into reality to make big money and thank you that's right.

Derrick Chen

Looks good Toyota, start producing them.

Denis Klanac
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