NEXT VERSION: A closer look at the Toyota FT-1 Graphite

The Toyota FT-1 is just a stunning piece of design. And now, Toyota’s built a second one and painted it Graphite Gray, making it even more beautiful than the first. It was unveiled last week at McCall’s Motorworks Revival, an exclusive pre-party to kick off the Monterey Historics. We briefly mentioned FT-1 number two in Part 01 of our Monterey coverage, but the gorgeous concept deserves a closer look.

Akio Toyoda wants you to feel wakudoki when you look at the car. Get your minds out of the gutter, that simply means “a palpable, heart-pounding sense of excitement” in Japanese. Also, it’s a dance craze.

Hilux ads aside, we actually do feel a little wakudoki when we gaze upon the FT-1. “Doesn’t look like any Toyota I’ve ever seen,” said one onlooker. At first we thought he was just another Monterey snob that knew nothing about cars from the other side of the Pacific, like those who gave confused reactions as landmark Japanese cars were auctioned for record prices. But then we realized he was kinda right. This is what the Lexus LFA should have been, a tungsten land missile with curves to die for.

The original FT-1 was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, the latest in a line of cars that Akio Toyoda promised would bring back the sportiness and passion from his company’s past. It’s highly uncommon for an automaker to build two concept cars. The last time Toyota did that, the Lexus LF-LC was green-lit for production (supposedly).

Design was undertaken at Calty, Toyota’s California-based design studio where a great number of iconic vehicles were styled, everything from the FJ Cruiser to the Previa to the Lexus SC 300/400. To commemorate the lineage, Calty employees even recreated a well known archival photo that dates back to the first design to emerge from Calty, the A40 Celica and Supra.

While ogling the FT-1 we ran into Alex Shen, its lead exterior designer. He explained how the double-bubble roof was an expression of light weight and purpose, but also an inspiration taken from the million-dollar 2000GT. Likewise, the C-pillar also pays tribute to the Nozaki Arc from Toyota’s original supercar, a cue also found on the Scion FR-S.

As our conversation turned from future cars to past, we learned that Alex is one of us. He even whipped out his phone to show us a photo of his 1978 Celica Coupe, lowered nicely and sitting on black Epslions. Though it was designed before Alex went to work for Calty, it must be fairly cool to have owned one of your place of employment’s first products.

Then he shocked us all by revealing this to be the next 400hp Supra that will cost $35,000. Just kidding, he didn’t say anything even remotely close, but he did sign this awesome FT-1 sketch for us.

Toyota gave the second FT-1 a Graphite Gray paint job matched with saddle brown leather. The idea was a more sophisticated, upscale feel and you know what? It works beautifully, showing off the curves infinitely better than the red version. When the light falls on the hood just right, the surface seems almost liquid.

Not only that, but Graphite Gray was a trademark color for Toyota. Before it debuted on the Lexus IS 300 it was rarely used, but after its appearance every luxury automaker followed suit.

The concept itself is full of neat touches, like the fuel cap and bezel. Since it’s a design study, it’s quite likely there’s no actual tank behind it, but the racecar-like instructions (which the red version didn’t have) lend a feel of completion to the car.

The cross section of the door is something to behold as well, a stunning detail that’s only noticed when it’s open.

Some say the FT-1 is the next Supra, but not Toyota. They maintain that the FT-1 is strictly a design study. However, since the FT-1’s Detroit debut Toyota has filed for a trademark for the Supra name and two new sports cars are rumored to have been confirmed. Naturally, we hope a new Supra sees production, but one alarming rumor is that it might have a BMW engine. We hope that’s not true, especially if Toyota wants to maintain its reputation for longevity.

Toyota may not want to say what becomes of the FT-1 Concept, but the name bestowed on the car predicts good things to come. FT-1 stands for “Future Toyota Number One” and that’s a pretty bold statement to make. Let’s not forget, the FT-86 became the FR-S. Then again, the FT-HS didn’t really go anywhere. Well, if nothing else comes of the FT-1, at least the world now has two. That’s progress.


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10 Responses to NEXT VERSION: A closer look at the Toyota FT-1 Graphite

  1. Tom says:

    As a BMW/MINI technician, I agree wholeheartedly with this statement:

    “but one alarming rumor is that it might have a BMW engine. We hope that’s not true, especially if Toyota wants to maintain its reputation for longevity.”

  2. eric says:

    That sound you heard was my jaw dropping on the floor..drool

  3. Mr.Northcove says:

    It seems very likely that this sweetie will reach production,and with the Lexus NX TMC has shown us that gorgeous concepts can indeed make it to production without losing their design edge.

  4. Randy says:

    Gorgeous ride! The grey is definitely better than the red. Maybe we’re all getting tired of red for every sporting machine…

    It’s too bad the FT-HS didn’t get the okay; this looks to be a Ferrari-level beast, and that could have been the Z-fighter.

  5. Dave says:

    The coolest part of this to me might be Alex’s Celica ;P

    This thing is gorgeous. I noticed the *curl* in the door when I stared at the red car for 20 minutes. It’s full of neat details like that. It looks super high-end and pretty exotic. Maybe part of it has to do w/ the new color, but it looks more like something $135k than $35k. Toyota is fully capable of make awesome high-performance engines that also don’t break. I guess cost sharing…

  6. Socarboy says:

    The new Supra is a beautiful car, a definite bright spot, for a mark that currently needs styling help. Don’t get me wrong Toyotas have always been great cars, but some of their current styling has been weird at best. Look at the new Prius, that has got to be the best example of botched styling since the Pontiac Aztec

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