By on November 29, 2011

Tomorrow, the Tokyo Motor Show will open its doors at the Big Sight to the press. Pre-show madness is running in high gear. Every Japanese carmaker tries to outdo the other with pre-releases and hints. Sometimes, they go wrong. Especially, when there are gullible counterparts. On Sunday, the (FT)86 fans at the enthusiast site ft86club.com received shocking news from their special correspondent Leeky who was dispatched to the unveiling at the Fuji Speedway.

“The car will be limited to 1000 units per year only.
Each car I  can confirm will be hand made.”

This tidbit created outrage amongst the Hachiroku (86) fans. Many doubted the number and the production methods, but Leeky stuck to his guns:

“As I said, I am here as a guest of Toyota Japan with the head of advertising. These are the details that they have given me through all the questions I have been throwing at them. Hand made did indeed throw me for a second, so I asked again “Hand made!?”….”Yes, each one””

If Toyota Advertising really is so badly informed as Mr. Leeky alleges, no wonder that Tetsuya Tada, Chief Engineer of the (FT)86 a.k.a. Hachiroku had issues with his advertising department. In our sitdown interview on Sunday, Tada had remarked:

“When we first presented this idea to our advertising people, they were drastically opposed to this idea. They complained that the car doesn’t have a particularly fast time on the circuit, it does not use any new technology. They also could not think of a catchy headline for the catalogue.”

Also during the  Sunday sitdown, Tada steadfastly refused to set any production or sales targets. When asked, he admitted that he has no idea of how many will sell:

“We usually do thorough market research and produce them accordingly. This is not the approach we are taking here. But I do believe that this car will be doing well.”

Not a word about 1,000 units / year limit. Not a word about handmade. Production is outsourced to Subaru which in turn outsourced its complete kei-car production to Toyota’s Daihatsu. It would have been a raw deal for Subaru if only 1,000 Hachiroku are made by hand, while some 80,000 Subaru minivehicles are made by Daihatsu.

By now, there are 19 pages of comments at FT86club.com, all focused on the shocking 1,000 handmade Hachiroku per year “FACT.”

To put the fans at ease, I called Keisuke Kirimoto, official spokesman of Toyota Motor Corporation.  I asked him whether I had nodded off during the interview when those 1,000 handmade Hachiroku were announced. Kirimoto answered:

“What????”

I told him that there are people who are under the impression that only 1,000 will be made per year. Kirimoto’s answer:

“Gee, I hope we will be selling more than that.”

Handmade? Please. The car will be made on a fully automated line at Subaru. Sure, that line is more suited for a “niche car” than the high volume lines at Toyota, Tada said, but nothing about handmade. This is an “affordably priced” car, and for that, you need more than artisians at a coachbuilder.

Shifting into official spokesperson mode, Keisuke Kirimoto officially confirmed that there are no production limits, and that they will sell as many as possible. In any case:

“Production plans and pricing will be released at a later date.”

Kirimoto asked me and the Hachiroku fanbase to keep in mind that what we saw on Sunday and what will be on display at the Tokyo Motor Show is a “pre-production prototype”, and that the final car will be  shown at its official market launch some time next year, along with pricing and possibly production targets.

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27 Comments on “Hachiroku Madness: Only 1000 (FT)86, All Hand Made?...”


  • avatar
    DasFast

    Here’s a thought regarding production numbers:

    Keep the 86 in development, and produce no more than a few mules until you’re prepared to follow through with a stunning design like the original concept.
    The whole rear end of this thing should be a source of shame to all involved.

    • 0 avatar
      rodface

      What happened to the rear end is truly depressing. Perhaps there were cost cutting, or trunk access issues with the concept design? It looked realistic for a production car… more so than the front, which made it relatively unscathed.

      • 0 avatar
        DasFast

        The 86 looks like it was the result of this kind of thinking:

        “The Koreans have raised the level of expectation on the low end of the market. So although a superior car, we won’t be able to sell the 86 for as much as originally hoped. Make it look more Scion-y, we’re going to market it that way instead.”

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        Could have been too difficult/expensive to produce, or maybe the aerodynamics weren’t right. Who knows? The realities of production rarely leave concepts untouched…look at the monstrosity the Volt became, for example.

        Personally, I like this better than any of the concepts. The first FT-86 didn’t look like it’d translate well, and the FT-86 II and FR-S mock-ups were hideous – too boy racer. This is pretty subdued and reminds me of the old Supra. It could be a lot worse….it’s not like Honda or Chris Bangle designed it. Then again, I like the current Mustang’s back end, too, so maybe my opinions are skewed from the norm.

        Of course some people can’t ever be pleased. I’d be curious to see if certain people reacted differently if this car wore a German or American badge.

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        I think the stated goal of being able to carry 4 wheels and tyres would not have worked with the more sloping rear end. I imagine the end result gives a lot more trunk space and probably better aero too.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    “And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.”

    Honestly, that doesn’t even take a well tuned bull$#!+ detector to debunk or dismiss out of hand. A post like that would earn its author immediate and long term loss of credibility with me.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    guillible fools

    look at the car… how is that ever handmade? it has a simple plastic dash and very cheap looking moulded fittings that would look out of place on a Hyundai/Kia

    Toyota would like nothing more for this to sell by the tens of thousands year after year.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I think it comes down to an awkwardly worded question by a British guy that doesn’t normally talk to people that speak Japanese as a first language. It is pretty easy to get wires crossed.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    It’s clearly a take on the Miata/Mustang vibe (depending on who you talk to and what kind of HP it can supposedly generate. It’s meant to be somebody’s 2nd car that will be with them for a long-time and will remain a track toy or a fun weekend car. Selling 1000 of them in the high-teens/low-20s to start seems unrealistic. More like 10-20K a year to even make developing the platform further at all.

    Where do people get these kinds of ideas? I could see 1000 of them being pulled off the assembly line, disassembled, given a vast performance overhaul, and reassembled by hand. But that would be like a one-off run of cars that would be the halo for the FT-86 and not the main glut.

    I’m honestly interested to see this car in action, I may end up buying one if the price and performance is right. I’m hoping for 914 magic…but preparing for last of the celicas….

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    I actually like this car a lot. It’s styling goes against the toyota milquetoast grain. It seemed a lot of commenters hated on it’s specs last FT86 article, but who cares when you have something this niche and good looking. I’m sure it will handle like a dream. Hyundai tried to hit the same target with it’s genesis, but went over board with their drawn back, flowing lines. The Genesis ended up looking pretty and polite. The FT86 looks like it’s going to kick you in the balls then steal your girl friend.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    The styling looks more like an older Subaru than a Toyota, which is not very surprising. And I’m quite the stock performance numbers will matter less in some months when special editions and aftermarket parts are available.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Ladies & Gentlemen, I’d like to present to you the problem with the blog-o-sphere. It’s called “lack of experience.” Thank you, and have a pleasant evening.

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      Speaking of “Blog-o-sphere” my shill (paid by a certain Gov. owned companies’ dealership) are already out spreading the word in forums about how this thing is a cheap piece of junk and how stupid anyone would be to buy one over a V6 Camaro.

      Let’s see if thier tactics continue to work in forumland and this thing is stillborn right out of the gate.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        GMCo, don`t see a conspiracy where there probably is not one. Some people will love the 86, some will hate it (even without driving it or seeing it in person) and others will just watch and wait to make up their own minds. It is human nature. For the record the 86 is a different market to the Camaro (or Mustang, Challenger). And nothing wrong with that.

      • 0 avatar
        GarbageMotorsCo.

        Let’s just say there are more of my fellow clansmen out there in forumland than you think. They have a mission and imports are their target. Actually, they are spending more time and effort on the Subie version since it seems to be the one getting the most notice.

  • avatar
    jaje

    5 Steps to Sell a Car Designed for an True Enthusiast:

    #1 – make it affordable
    Any car hand built is expensive. Any car limited to 1,000 production per year and dealers will take advantage of extreme markups. A simple lesson: if it’s too expensive we can’t afford it and few will buy it new and kill it before it gains a foothold. Enthusiasts usually are not rich and can’t afford to buy a new car for these purposes b/c we spend a lot on modifications and taking them to the track. We’ll wait til we can get them used or buy something else.

    #2 – make it fun to drive
    From the comments and involvement by Toyoda-san it looks to be built that way (not built the typical sterilized Toyota way).

    #3 – make it fun and easy to modify
    Simple setups with factory performance and aftermarket options will create a following – no torsion suspensions which are a pain to work with.

    #4 – make it reliable
    Nothing frustrates an enthusiast more than a poorly designed / built car.

    #5 – make it look good
    Enthusiasts will look past funky looks if the car has a soul. For those who have to have good looks there are plenty of cars where that is the #1 objective. Buy it and park it and look at it, while enthusiasts will drive them and use them and modify them.

    • 0 avatar
      DasFast

      I agree completely jaje. Enthusiasts have reconciled the look of the WRX because of everything else it offers.
      That said, truly desirable cars also appeal to the eye. The production 86 equates to a low resolution fax of the original copy. Close, but not quite the same in critical ways.

  • avatar

    TTAC: keepin it real. Real real.

  • avatar

    A handmade car from a major automaker…from the kaizen-Demming-JIT gurus at Toyota? That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in recent memory. Or the most pathetic.

    Or both.

  • avatar
    jeanpierresarti

    Thanks for clearing this madness up Bertel because madness it is.

    However I am a little happy about all the hoopla because I hope it inspires the other manufacturer to re-evaluate what they have been producing in the reasonably priced sporty cars. Case in point the abominable new Civic or the outgoing Eclipse (RIP). For example, my hope is that Mazda follows through with their intention to reboot the Miata back to it’s original lightweightiness.

  • avatar
    Lynchenstein

    I can’t wait to see what Mazda will bring to the table with their rumored back-to-basics Miata. I hope they truly make it affordable and fun. If they don’t then I think the 86 could be my next car. I can get over a car’s looks, but it has to be fun to drive and affordable. If it comes from a major Japanese manufacturer, I have no worries about the reliability…

  • avatar

    I hate to be so pedantic, but I totally lost interest in this car once they axed the hatch/fastback. My Integra was a small coupe, but could transport my entire Ampeg SVT rig and then some, plus my drummer up front. I just don’t get why this value-added feature was deleted from the final design. Makes no sense…

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      Rigidity, mostly. I think automakers put too much emphasis on it, but that’s the way it’s been for years. It’s why the 350Z ended up with a crossmember that made the hatch pointless.

      Also, bad memories of the Celica’s hatch squeaking after just a couple of years.

      It reduces me interest level in the 8-6, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Probably axed due to cost and weight targets. Big openings like the tC hatch naturally reduce chassis stiffness. This can be overcome by 2 ways: add metal to stiffen (and thus weight) or get rid of the hatch. Same goes for cost. It is more expensive to make a large door with the glass contained in it than it is to fix the glass in the body and make a light trunklid for the cargo area.

      I don’t recall any version being a liftback, though. As far as I can tell, they’ve always been a fastback w/ trunklid.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    In my oft-humble (ha!) opinion, I think TTAC along with the rest of the automotive press (and the people like me that follow it) have just been duped.

    With impending regulation from both the EPA and Euro enviro-nazis, it would make very little sense for Toyota to build more than 1,000/year due to carbon taxes.

    I REALLY hate to say it, but mark my words, this development proves this car will be so expensive due to ‘market adjustment’ that one would be crazy to buy it over…well…ANY Camaro/Challenger/Mustang/and..yes, Genesis Coupe.

    I HOPE I’M WRONG.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Um…..In what land are you living in? The EPA and the EU are two totally different governing bodies and Toyota has a track record of proving they can meet or exceed any emissions issue or MPG standard. Carbon taxes? Currently the Cap and Trade program is stalled due to corporate backing of right-wing politicians. Once again though if it were in place on individual cars it would certainly take the form of more CAFE regulations and not individual carbon taxes. The FT-86 with it’s small displacement I-4 would have no problem meeting those. If anything due to fleet averages Toyota would want to make these at almost a loss to sell them if their SUVs/Trucks sold more in the US.

      In other words….You have your concept ass-backwards. :(


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