A Look Inside Toyota’s Top Secret Design Studio
It was 50 years ago when Toyota decided to get their designers out of the corporate environment and set them up in a space that was more relaxed, where they could use their imaginations.
CALTY, or California Toyota, is a sleepy little design studio that was originally a stealth operation. It is now the place where designers have come up with many of the vehicles you’ll find at a Toyota dealer today and several concepts that never made it to production.
A New Moon-Buggy Inspired Concept to Celebrate 50 Years
In celebration of its 50th Anniversary, Toyota opened its doors, allowing the public a look into the design process. To celebrate this milestone, CALTY also unveiled a new concept vehicle inspired by a moon buggy. They like to call it the Baby Lunar Cruiser. The design concept comes from the original FJ40 Land Cruiser and the Lunar Cruiser that Toyota is currently working on in partnership with JAXA, the Japanese space agency.
You won’t see the Baby Lunar Cruiser at and Toyota dealer, but it is something you could see on the moon. Each wheel has an electric motor, and instead of a steering wheel, it has two joysticks.
The Evolution of the FT-1
The FT-1 Concept came onto the scene in 2014, almost as a preview to what would eventually become the new Supra. The FT-1 was a what-if version of the ultimate performance car. It was made from real fiberglass and foam, but its engine was left to the imagination.
It took another five years for the Supra to arrive at Toyota dealers, but it looks much like the FT-1. It has the same overall shape but with rounder edges for the headlights and a shorter nose.
The MX-1 and the MX-2
One of the concept cars that didn’t make it to production was the MX-1 sports car. This 1983 car had a mid-engine design and futuristic scissor doors, but it never made it past the design stage. This didn’t stop the CALTY designers, though. The MX-2 came next. It updated the MX-1’s design and added some new features. Instead of scissor doors, it had gullwing doors. Inside, the unique steering wheel was attached to a swinging arm that allowed the driver to choose right or left-handed operation.
The NYC Concept
The NYC Concept is by far one of the quirkiest of the concepts to come out of CALTY. It was for the Scion brand, which is now just a distant memory. Instead of sitting behind the wheel, the driver would almost stand upright in the unusually tall cabin. The idea behind this vehicle was to create an urban pod. It was also designed with environmental consciousness in mind.
CALTY’s first design to go into production was the second-generation Toyota Celica. It arrived at Toyota dealers in the late 1970’s. You’ll also recognize some more recent models, such as the Tundra, Sequoia, the Highlander, and the Avalon. These were all designed right here in the U.S.
This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning a commission is given should you decide to make a purchase through these links, at no cost to you. All products shown are researched and tested to give an accurate review for you.