Tetsuya Tada Reveals How the Toyota 86 was Born


“Forget about minivans. You are now working on the sports car project.” That’s how the Toyota 86‘s chief engineer Tetsuya Tada was brought in to the venture that would transform way automaking was done. According to an article on Toyota UK’s blog, back in 2007, Toyota called an executive board meeting specifically to answer the question of why people were losing interest in cars. It was widely accepted as gospel that sports cars could not turn a profit. 066-0232_Toyota86_TRD

However, in research conducted with enthusiasts across the globe, Tada discovered that what they wanted was not the same as what executives and product planners saw as sports cars — machines with a “Devil’s Cycle” of ever-increasing power, complexity and cost.

Scion_FRS_history_group shot_2

The “revelation” might seem obvious to JNCers, but it went against the grain of everything marketers believed, and Tada specifically cites encounters with fans who preferred the simplicity and fun of old Silvias and AE86s as part of his decision making process.

2011 Tokyo Motor Show Subaru BRZ 05

The next challenge was to find a motor suitable for the 86’s low-hood look. A rotary and boxer were both considered, but in the end Toyota’s partnership with Subaru pointed Tada towards the flat four. Even so, sharing technology and corporate cultures between the two automakers was no small task. In the end, Shinzo Kobuki, who also worked on the original AE86’s legendary 4A-GE, was able to convince both sides to mate Toyota’s direct injection technology with Subaru’s boxer.

For anyone even remotely interested in how one of the most compelling cars in the last 10 years came to be, it’s a must-read. For everyone else, it’ll be a lesson in appreciation on just how difficult it can be to bring a seemingly simple idea to fruition.

[Toyota UK Blog]

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9 Responses to Tetsuya Tada Reveals How the Toyota 86 was Born

  1. Nigel says:

    Once again a thank you to Toyota and Subaru for making the new 86 real.

  2. Sprinter 1969 says:

    Thank you too for the nice set of pins in the RHS of the pic with the Red Scion version!

    This pic of the launch has surfaced many times and it still makes me smile!

  3. dickie says:

    I can imagine the same thing happening at Nissan, albeit some slight differences:

    “Forget small, boring cars with CVT. You are now working on a small, boring crossover with CVT.”

    – Carlos Ghosn.

  4. dankan says:

    By the by, when can we get an update on the official JNC FR-S? How much fun have you been having with it?

  5. Louis Fong says:

    But the senior designer for the FT86 concept was Jaromir Cech from Toyota Europe Design Development (ED2), right?

  6. james says:

    I think the 86/FR-S/BRZ is a breath of fresh air in the sports car field. I’m glad that it was built and hope for a renaissance similar to this in other Japanese marques.

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