Toyota has previewed a new sports car concept ahead of the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show later this month. According to the automaker, the Toyota S-FR “continues the proud heritage of Toyota’s fun-to-drive lightweight sports cars.” Of course, this year was the 50th anniversary of Toyota’s first sports car, and though it wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the official statement, the S-FR clearly looks like a modern interpretation of 1965 Sports 800.
The S-FR speaks the language of enthusiasts. It’s front-engined, rear-wheel-drive, and has been designed on a front-midship platform where the motor sits behind the front axle for optimal weight distribution. Toyota declined to reveal specifics at this time, but noted that the transmission is s 6-speed manual.
In a brief, four-paragraph press release, Toyota emphasized its lightness and weight no less than four times and its responsiveness thrice. It also hammered home the ideas of simplicity, direct handling, and fun.
Though never reference explicitly, the Sports 800 is referenced in several aspects of the S-FR’s design. First and foremost are the round headlights. On the original, the bezel shape gave them an ever-so-slightly angry look, a cue replicated by the cutline of the hood in the S-FR (and made even angrier).
The original Sports 800 was notable for having a targa top a year before the Porsche 911 Targa, from which the removable roof gets its name. No matter the color of the car, the Sports 800 always had a black roof. Though the S-FR appears to have a fixed roof, the black top is clearly a homage to the original
Though the interior of the S-FR is funky and modern, the flat 3-spoke steering wheel‘s doughnut-like hub appears to be a modern interpretation of the Sports 800’s. Also, the simple shift for the 6-speed transmission, with its perfectly conical shift boot and no center console ahead, is also strongly reminiscent of the Sports 800.
Toyota says that it hopes the S-FR will inspire spirited motoring and customization, and “make a whole new generation fall in love with driving.”
With this, the new ND MX-5, and the Mazda sports car concept, it appears sports cars are coming back in a big way. Let’s just hope they get past the concept stage. The Tokyo Motor Show begins October 28.
Images courtesy of Toyota.