Toyota FT-1 concept car

Toyota surprised us all today at the North American International Auto Show with the reveal of their stunning FT-1 sports car concept.  First devised by Calty Design Research in the Sony PlayStation Gran Turismo game environment, the FT-1 concept leapt from the screen to the stage in a race-inspired press conference at Detroit’s COBO Hall.

The name says it all. FT-1 stands for “Future Toyota,” and the number “1” represents the ultimate. According to its designers, the FT-1 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 FR-S. In addition, the concept draws inspiration from Calty’s more recent sports car concept work such as FT-HS (2007) and the Lexus LF-LC (2012).

The front engine rear-wheel drive configuration locates the cockpit far rearward within the wheelbase to improve weight distribution.  This design element also helps create the classic sports car proportions one would expect from a vehicle poised to dominate even the most challenging road course. The cockpit’s wrap around windshield and side glass openings are a distinct nod to the design of the legendary Toyota 2000GT.

The interior is a focused, highly functional “place of business” that locates the driver at the controls behind an F1 inspired steering-wheel.  The intimate, low slung cockpit has its A-pillars set far back to help optimize cornering vision and sensation of the cabin’s intimacy.  The cockpit’s sense of minimalism adds to the purposefulness of the driver-focused environment with an emphasis on light weight 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. A color 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.

While technical specifications are not provided, one can assume that the FT-1 represents an ideally balanced front-engine, rear wheel-drive layout powered by a high performance engine. Beneath a transparent glass hood, an ambiguous engine cover hides a powerplant left to the imagination of the onlooker.

With the recent launch of Honda’s NSX concept and the success of Nissan’s GT-R model it’s not surprising Toyota is trying to amp things up with a possible Supra replacement. We really hope this one comes to fruition soon as we can’t wait to test this one out on a race track.

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