Japanese automaker Toyota has had a string of exciting concept cars over the years, a few of which managed to make it to production. A few of the most memorable Toyota concept vehicles that got away were the Toyota Alessandro Volta, the Toyota RSC, and the V8-powered FXS concept roadster. However, others like the Toyota FT-86 concept and the FT-1 Sportscar Concept were fortunate to jump from digital renderings to production models. Their conceptual names didn’t always stick — as evidenced by the FT-86 Concept, which became the Toyota 86 or GR86, sharing its platform and oily bits with the similarly-styled Subaru BRZ.
The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ first debuted in 2013 and had their fair share of praises and critiques. One thing is for sure, though: The 86 marked the return of excitement in the Toyota brand. And in 2017, Toyota president and CEO Akio Toyoda issued a companywide decree of “no more boring cars,” a sign of good things to come from the brand known for humdrum sedans and crossovers like the Corolla, Camry, and RAV4.
Toyota FT-1: Return of the Supra
Toyota fans and enthusiasts have long clamored for the return of what is arguably the most iconic Toyota sports car of all time: The Supra, particularly the fourth-generation A80 unveiled in 1993. The MK IV Supra engraved itself in automotive folklore with its starring role in the first “The Fast and the Furious” movie in 2001. Since then, JDM sports car enthusiasts have kept praying to the high heavens for a fifth-gen Supra, and the car Gods answered with the Toyota FT-1 Sportscar Concept after a lengthy gestation period.
The FT-1 debuted at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show and eventually got the green light for production as the Toyota GR Supra in 2019. However, hardcore enthusiasts were scratching their heads upon learning the fifth-gen Supra has no 2JZ turbo engine, no manual gearbox, and no removable roof. Furthermore, the Supra and BMW Z4 are essentially platform twins, making it harder to bear considering the Z4 is a roadster. Toyota is appeasing Supra fans by giving it more power and an available six-speed manual transmission. Toyota even built a one-off Supra Sport Top (with a removable hardtop roof) for the 2019 SEMA show, and there’s no denying the new GR Supra looks better with the roof off.
Toyota FT-HS Concept: Meet the GR86 and GR Supra’s granddaddy
The Toyota FT-HS or Future Toyota Hybrid Sports concept is the brainchild of the brand’s US-based Calty Design Research studio, and it still looks good today despite first appearing in public in late 2006. You can thank the Toyota FT-HS concept if you fancy the GR86 and the GR Supra’s low-slung silhouettes, but the granddaddy concept is not just about looking good.
According to Car and Driver, the FT-HS is a rear-wheel drive, 2+2 sports car with a front-mounted hybrid V6 engine. Back in 2007, the word “hybrid” immediately brought to mind the Toyota Prius, a vehicle that you wouldn’t describe as “sporty” or “lively.” However, the FT-HS has a hybridized 3.5-liter V6 with over 400 horsepower. And you know what happens if you cram 400 horses into a small, lightweight, rear-wheel-drive sports car? Car and Driver added the FT-HS scoots to 60 mph from a standstill in under five seconds, making it the quickest hybrid on the market.
Furthermore, the FT-HS’ smooth-wedge design and minimalist exterior remain eye-catching even after all these years. The concept’s “freeform geometrics” helps improve the airflow while minimizing turbulence, which is critical in both aspects of performance and efficiency. More importantly, the FT-HS has an open-top roof like the Mk IV Supra, and you can stow the top in the car’s rear.
The futuristic FT-HS is Toyota’s forgotten concept imbibed with all the elements enthusiasts crave in a modern Toyota sports car. If Toyota were to move forward with this line, we wouldn’t mind a mild hybrid or even an all-electric Supra — assuming, of course, it was delivered with a stylish T-top roof.
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