Earlier this month, executives from Calty Design Research caused quite a stir at the North American Auto Show in Detroit with their Toyota FT-1 concept car. While the FT-1′s curving, “function-sculpted” exterior recalls earlier Toyota sports coupes such as the 2000GT, Celica, Supra, MR2, and Scion FR-S, the concept is unmistakably forward-looking. The FT-1 — short for “Future Toyota” — incorporates such futuristic elements as a transparent hood and an extendable rear spoiler wing, and yet it still looks like something you could enjoy driving in the here and now.
Calty has been mum on the technical specifications, but the car was intended for the track and was designed according to the principle of “Waku-Doki,” which translates as “a palpable heart-pounding sense of excitement,” so it’s safe to assume the specs are impressive. We do know it’s a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, and that there’s a lot of technology under that glass hood.
My own personal tastes run more toward the big dinosaurs from Detroit’s golden age, but even I have to confess that this is a pretty sexy machine, at least from some angles. As with so many modern cars, the rear end has too much flat vertical space to my eye, like a big billboard waiting for an ad. (The current Corvette styling suffers from this as well.) The nose-on view is better, with the deep ducting and slight “beak” giving it a predatory look. But I especially like the profile, which is all classic sportster.
In an unusual but somehow very modern move, Calty worked with Polyphony Digital, the developers of the popular line of Gran Turismo driving simulator games, to develop a virtual FT-1, which was then used as a tool to pitch the concept to Toyota management. Executives were offered a chance to put the computer-generated version of the FT-1 through its paces on a virtual rendering of Fuji Speedway. Akio Toyoda, the president and CEO of the company, as well as an accomplished race driver, reportedly finished his virtual lap with a better time than his real-life best. Impressed, he gave his approval for construction of a physical model. Seems kind of weird to this writer — I’m not a gamer — but hey, whatever works, right?
Incidentally, if you’re a Gran Turismo player, you can give the car a spin as well; the FT-1 is now available as a downloadable vehicle for GT 6.
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