There are times when car companies create cars according to the principle “new is well forgotten old”. For example, this is how the Mazda MX-5 was born, which embodied the concept of British roadsters of the 60’s: low weight, a powerful atmospheric engine, rear-wheel drive chassis and, in some configurations, even a steering wheel with a wooden rim. The idea shot out – the MX-5 became a global hit.
And there are times when automakers simply pay homage to ideas from the past. With no desire to make super profits. It’s a path most often taken by concept cars or small production models like the Morgan 3-Wheeler, but it’s the kind of approach that draws particular attention to brand stands at auto shows. That’s how the Toyota FXS was born – a fully marketable car, which was created exclusively for closed pavilions.
The roadster premiered at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, the same place where the prototype of the current Nissan GT-R was first shown. Visually, the Toyota FXS was a classic barchetta with a low windshield and short overhangs. The overall height of the car did not exceed 1.1 meters.
The FXS’s bodywork was imbued with a typical early twenty-first century neo-futurism – an airy biodesign blended with the classic lines of mid-century roadsters. Although the car’s silhouette looks quirky, it was well thought out in terms of aerodynamics. What’s more, the concept got a flat underside with a fully functional diffuser – such a solution allowed to abandon the vulgar spoilers and antifenders.
The concept really needed downforce – the car was a fully running car. So, the FXS is not just a stylish shell. By the way, the name FXS stands for Future Experimental Sport. It is quite a strange name, considering that Toyota already had such a “sports car from the future” at that time – the new Soarer, which we know better as Lexus SC430.
The FXS inherited from the Soarer a 4.3-liter V8 engine, which developed 280 horsepower. True, in view of the smaller curb weight (1,300 pounds in the concept versus 1,740 in the SC430), the FXS promised to be somewhat more dynamic. Whether it is so or not – a mystery, the answer to which no one will ever get.
Not many people have had the honor of sitting behind the two-spoke steering wheel of the FXS concept. And even fewer people have put the automatic transmission’s puck in the “Drive” position. Nevertheless, a futuristic interior with plenty of chrome was almost fully functional. Among the interesting features is the ability to connect a cell phone via Bluetooth.
The European premiere of the FXS was held a little later, at the Geneva Motor Show in 2002. Considering that the concept of the car refers to the European sports cars of the middle of the twentieth century, it was accepted very warmly. But even casual spectators understood that Toyota would not produce anything similar – hardly anyone would be inspired by the speedster from Japan. But as a tribute, it was a very nice move on Toyota’s part.