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.

North American International Auto Show 2013 – NAIAS

Last month, Team RedlineNorth headed south crossing the border into Detroit to attend the 2013 North American International Auto Show – NAIAS. Held over the last two weeks of January, the Detroit show is the biggest auto show in North America and one of the largest in the world.  There is much debate today which global auto show is the most significant, but the reality is NAIAS continues to be among the top along with Geneva, Frankfurt, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo.  The rankings criteria are based around the number of journalists that attend, and the number of worldwide product introductions that are made at the events. This year’s NAIAS total ticketed attendance was 795,416 compared to last year’s 770,932 and the 2013 total is the highest figure since 2004 when 808,833 attended.

As for the full numbers here are the NAIAS 2013 Highlights:

  • Total Vehicle Introductions: 59 (50 Worldwide; 9 North American)
  • Total Press Preview Attendance: 5,212 journalists from 60 countries
  • Total Industry Preview Attendance: 28,326 people from 30 countries
  • Total Charity Preview Attendance: 13,069 people ($3.9 million raised)
  • Total Ticketed Attendance: 795,416 (incl. Industry Preview, Charity Preview & Public Show)
  • Total Economic Impact: $365 Million

Source: NAIAS.com

Lexus LFA

Lexus LFA

The level of trade show booth production is incredible in Detroit and Lexus did not disappoint showing off its unreal LFA model with full sound/audio clips replaying at the display.  Yes, we know the price tag is crazy at $400,00 CAD but it truly sounds like an F1 car and Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson was recently quoted saying it was the best car he has ever driven.

Taking it all in

Taking it all in

With all the major manufacturers represented in Detroit it truly is a must attend show for the auto enthusiast.

Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro

Whether it’s the Hot Wheels Chevrolet Camaro display or Toyota’s latest and greatest in technology the show successfully captures the hearts and minds of attendees.

Cutting edge Toyota technology

Cutting edge Toyota technology

As you likely have heard by now, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray took home the award as the show’s “Darling” . However, the accolades are not without controversy since there are some Corvette purists who are upset about the rectangular tail lights since the Corvette has had round tail lights for 60 years.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

In spite of what you may have heard, it was not all about the North American automakers as the Europeans brought some quality product like the new BMW 4 series model.  It looks to be a combination of the great features and nimbleness of the 3 series with a little more size and creature comforts from the 5 series.  It sure sounds like a winning product plan and our only question is why did it take this long to come up with it?

BMW 4 Series

BMW 4 Series

And what can we say here? No major auto show is a wrap without some over the top cars and Usain Bolt’s gold Nissan GT-R fits this mold perfectly.  As it would be equally at home parked at Bolt’s house in Jamaica or in LA parked beside Justin Bieber’s chrome plated Fisker Karma or Chris Brown’s jet fighter Lambo.

Usain Bolt's Nissan 370Z

Usain Bolt’s Nissan GT-R

We aim to offer a little taste of what the show includes and inspire you to check it out for yourself. Be sure to mark your calendar for January and hopefully we will see you in Detroit in 2014!

North American International Auto Show

(Jan 2012) Detroit, MI North American International Auto Show

North American International Auto Show (image courtesy of NAIAS)

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) will be held in Detroit, Michigan from January 12th to the 27th and the RedlineNorth Team will be there covering the events.

The NAIAS is the only auto show in the United States to be afforded the annual sanction of the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles, the Paris-based alliance of automotive trade associations and manufacturers from around the world.

In anticipation of the 2013 edition of the show, RedlineNorth takes a look back at its history and how far it has come.

The first auto show was held in Detroit in 1907 at Beller’s Beer Garden at Riverside Park and was organized by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association. That year there were 17 exhibitors presenting at what was then a regionally focused show.

Detroit Auto Show 1910 (image courtesy of Detroit Free Press)

Detroit Auto Show 1910 (image courtesy of Detroit Free Press)

Throughout the next few years the show gained in size and moved into increasingly larger venues to accommodate a greater number of vehicles on display as well as visitors.

Due to the outbreak of World War II the United States government outlawed all sales or delivery of new passenger vehicles and trucks. There were no shows from 1941 to 1953.

In 1965 the show moved to its current home at the Cobo Center where it occupies nearly 1 million square feet of floor space each year.

1965 Detroit Auto Show

1965 Detroit Auto Show (image courtesy of Car and Driver)

In 1989, the show was renamed the North American International Auto Show to reflect the desire to become a truly international event. That year 850 journalists, 60 of whom were international, attended the NAIAS. It was in 1989 that Lexus and Infiniti debuted as a brand at the show and the Dodge Viper was displayed as a concept car.

Cobo Center - Location of the 2013 NAIAS (image courtesy of the Cobo Center)

Cobo Center – Location of the 2013 NAIAS (image courtesy of the Cobo Center)

This year there will be over 50 vehicle debuts with the majority being worldwide unveilings. Vehicles debuting at the show include the BMW M6 Gran Coupe, the 2014 Lexus IS, the 2014 Cadillac ELR with a plug-in hybrid drive train and Bentley will officially debut the new GT Speed Convertible.

Last year over 770,000 people attended the show with just as many, if not more, expected this year. The show will also be covered by over 6,000 journalists from around the world and over 500 vehicles will be on display.

Stay tuned for more coverage of the show later on this month.

Sources: Detroit Free Press, North American International Auto Show, Cobo Center, Car and Driver