The Most Forward-Thinking Toyota’s Ever Made

The hallmarks of Toyota as a leader in the auto car industry consist of quality, reliability, and longevity. While Toyota isn’t known for its rash or impulsive decisions, it has produced a fair number of gems over the course of its existence. Some of which have ended up gaining a lot of popularity and acclaim from car enthusiasts.

Below, in chronological order, we list 5 of the most brilliantly unusual Toyotas ever made, so read on!

Tercel (1978)

1978 Toyota Tercel Advertisement in Japan

1978 Toyota Tercel Advertisement in Japan

As the inspiration to our website’s namesake, and to put a spotlight on just how revolutionary this car was to the Japanese auto industry, I wanted to highlight first Toyota’s Gen1 Tercel.  First introduced in Japan in 1978, then in Europe in 1979, then in the U.S. in 1980. This is a subcompact car that helped catapult the Toyota brand into the upper echelon of Japanese car manufacturers thanks to a superior quality and handling capabilities.

The first generation of the Tercel was characterized by its 1.3L and 1.5L engines, 3-speed automatic transmission, and ⅘ speed manual transmission. It came in a 2/4 door sedan and a 3-door hatchback.

But what set the Toyota apart was it’s drive-ability.

Prior to the Tercel, the Corrolla was Toyota’s most popular vehicle, but the rear wheel drive and lack of rack-and-pinion steering as used on some of their more sportier models, gave the Corrolla the reputation as a particularly difficult vehicle to drive.  Hoping to correct this perception Toyota added a modified rack-and-pinion design, a more centrally-located center of gravity, and a tighter transmission.  This gave the Tercel a decidedly “sportier” feel with much more stability on turns.

So sure-footed was the Tercel that many drivers used the car as their primary ski vehicle thanks to it’s propensity to handle the tight turns and snowy conditions in the mountains.

2000 GT (1967)

1967 Toyota 2000 GT

1967 Toyota 2000 GT

Released in 1967, the Toyota 2000 GT was one of the few models that first gave Japan the competitive edge in terms of designing cool, fast, and advances vehicles. With 150 hp and a 2.0L straight-six engine, this car is capable of speeds superior to 135mph and is, to this day, considered to be the greatest Japanese car of all time.

It’s easy to see why – just look at how freakin’ cool it looks!

Only 351 cars of this model were made and the selling price was $7,000. The 2000 GT didn’t sell instantly because of its higher cost (compared to Porsche and Jaguar that sold for over $6,000), but also due to its unproven reputation. This car put Japan on the map as an esteemed leader in the Autocar industry.

Supra (1978)

1978 Toyota Celica Supra

1978 Toyota Celica Supra

The Toyota Supra is a sports car that was introduced in 1978 with the initial four generations being produced from 1978 until 2002 and the fifth-generation resuming in 2019.

The style and design were mainly inspired by the Toyota Celica, though the Supra is much longer and wider. With 110 horsepower and a 2.6 inline-six engine layout, this car was meant to compete with the very popular Datsun (now Nissan)  Z-car. The Supra received a drastic makeover in 1982 and more upgrades subsequently in 1986 and on.

Mega Cruiser (1995)

1995 Toyota Mega Cruiser

1995 Toyota Mega Cruiser

The Mega Cruiser is a heavy-duty SUV introduced by Toyota in 1995. This large and robust vehicle features four-wheel drive and is the biggest 4WD ever produced by Toyota.

The resemblance with the Hummer H1 is very striking, particularly in terms of design. Most of the vehicles manufactured ended up being used by the Japanese military, prefectural police, and fire/rescue departments. Though there were a few sold to civilians (133 units to be exact).

Scion xB (2003)

2003 Toyota Scion XB

2003 Toyota Scion XB

Scion xB is a compact car that was mainly targeted towards youngsters. The initial van was a subcompact, came with a 5-door hatchback, and weighed less than 2,400 pounds.

It featured a straight-four engine with 108 hp (81 kW) and 105 lb-ft (142 N⋅m) and was mainly designed for the United States market to be sold under the youth-oriented brand of Scion.

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