By on May 3, 2018

Sometimes an automaker goes out on a limb and gives consumers what they say they want. Toyota attempted to appease Internet Car Enthusiasts with the GT86, though it didn’t really work. A few years before that sporty coupe debuted, the company tried to woo the traditional sedan consumer with a very special, limited-production model for the Japanese domestic market.

Presenting Origin, by Toyota.

Always intended as a limited-edition special offering, Toyota worked to create a modern sedan that hearkened back to the first Crown Toyopet of the 1950s. Turning up the nostalgia dial, the Origin had suicide doors, jewel-effect tail lights, and a C-pillar which sloped backwards.

The Origin was based on the awkwardly styled Progrès model, and as such was classified as a midsize car by the Japanese government. That meant its lucky owners would have to pay a higher road tax; to make up for it, the classically-styled Origin got plenty of modern power. It was one of the very last vehicles to receive the 3.0-liter straight-six JZ engine, which you’d find in a Lexus SC300 or Supra.

Toyota continued to reach into the parts bin to find interior materials for the Origin. Everything is a high-quality assemblage of components from familiar Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Most surfaces are coated in wood and creamy leather with contrast piping. That formal roof lets passengers enjoy the soft rear recliners without hair mussing concerns.

As new, the Origin was 7,000,000 yen in 2001 ($84,898 USD, adjusted for inflation). That price put the Origin firmly in the prestige category, with an assist from its low-volume production of about 1,000 examples.

This one’s driven just 56,000 miles, and is of course eligible for importation into Canada. The Origin would seem to hold value better than other similar-era JDM cars, as it asks nearly $23,000 of your dollars.

[Images seller]

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46 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Toyota Origin – Vintage Luxury and Suicide Doors From 2001...”


  • avatar
    James2

    From 2001, you say… I recognize the Sunkist orange wood that was also used in the ES300, but that styling! Late 50s, 60s, easily –or something that might have come out of Mother Russia.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Given the vintage vibe, I wonder if Old Skool Yakuza bosses liked these cars?

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Everybody go retro!

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      It even has the retro “Hey I will just stick my nav screen on the dash over here I guess”. At least with a portable GPS you can take it off the dash when not needed.

      I do like the light colored interior. Everything is black these days.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

        It looks like the screen rotates closed when not in use. Sad that isn’t more common with today’s dash-mounted iPads.

        And how about those wood-tipped dash stalks?!?!

  • avatar
    W210Driver

    I’m not feeling it. Looks awful inside and out. But hey, slightly better-looking than ANY Mitsuoka!

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I absolutely love it.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Suicide doors, cool!
    Chrome bumpers in 2001, very cool!
    Camry interior in a 1962 body… rather disorienting.
    Uniqueness factor… very, but not in an entirely good way.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I heartily approve of the concept of vintage sheet metal with modern powertrains and tech underneath it. This is very cool for that reason. The 2001 Lexus interior, however, does not mesh at all with the 1950s exterior.

    What I really want to see is this strategy applied to a Series 3 XJ6, with the original interior style intact. No, I couldn’t afford it, but I’d be happy simply knowing the world was a better place.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      I endorse this opinion 100%. Although I still believe that Sir William Lyons’ styling is exquisite, a Jaguar without rich leather, sheepskin and real wood does not present the true Jaguar experience.

      The traditional non-start and electrical issues are however, optional.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      Was the S type not an equivalent to this?

      A retro saloon around a modern luxury platform (Lincoln LS)?

      To some extent the X type followed this pattern and got grief from the motoring press for it.

      And the XJ was recognisably XJ until the latest X351, which is a modern body on the last gen X350 platform.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        The S and X were homages to the old Jag styling, but awkwardly so (particularly in the case of the S). I’m not talking about mimicking the old style, but using the exact sheetmetal from the old XJ6. Underpin it with a modern engine and requisite safety tech. I’m sure there would be all sorts of expensive architectural issues preventing this, but wouldn’t it be cool to have a brand spanking new Series III with 300hp, ABS, airbags and no visual indication suggesting it wasn’t a time capsule from 1986?

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I love it because it so hideous and unique, it actually becomes endearing.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I would drive this. But I wish they had done a bit more follow-through with the interior, in terms of retro. The interior looks like that of any other turn-of-the-century Toyota or Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Yeah, Nissan gave their retro rides a suitable interior treatment.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I do agree with you and others about the interior being a let down given the exterior, but its still a pretty sweet car. I’d have it in a minute.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I would drive it too, retro look with a supple Jaguar like interior minus the parts bin wheel and dash pod.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      This thing reminds me of a rich man’s Kia Amanti (aka “the Korean Packard”). It is bizarre to see such a modern luxury interior within such a retro body. It’s sort of like a passenger car version of the Mercedes G Wagen in that respect. It also reminds me of that Saturday Night Live parody of the luxury car with the exterior of a rusted old GM, so nobody would try to steal it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Love it

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I didn’t need to squint my eyes any to see this as a late-50’s Studebaker limousine. The snout and the “C” pillar did it for me.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I agree with Kyree that Toyota should have carried the retro theme to the interior as well.
    http://ebaymotorsblog.com/motors/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/toyopet-3-800.jpg

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    This car gets me hot & bothered.

    I’m getting a stronger JDM fetish with each passing year.

    260Zs and Toyota Crowns TURN ME ON.

    Honda Cr-X/Mugen GT-4? YES, MORE!

    1971 Nissan Skyline GT-X KGC10? Mmm hmmm….

    But I’d be lying if I didn’t jump the pond to Sweden to make love to this Volvo P1800:

    http://volvo1800pictures.com/0_car_photos/S/1966/noc/3257/Volvo_1800S_66_noc_3257_10.jpg

    Seriously, look at that!

    Whoever designed that deserves the Nobel Prize Forever for design.

    Compare it elegant, classy, clean lines and exquisite interior to the over-complicated, busy, messes today.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I wish the trunk had a bit more length to it, but count me solidly in the “love it” camp.

    Corey is this at all related to the Progres/Brevis discussion a few weeks ago?

    • 0 avatar

      Funny enough, it’s entirely unrelated. I did talk on Slack chat about how ugly the Progres/Brevis were.

      But this came up in a Facebook group posting. Many of the Rare Rides you see here are sourced from there. When I saw it, I was not aware of the Progres connection until I looked on Wiki.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The trunk looks a bit stumpy because the hood is too long, in order to fit the 2JZ. If it was a 4-cylinder car with a shorter engine bay, the proportions would work better.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        If it was done today, it’d have a token 2.0L Turbo.

        I love the idea of an Inline 6, but you’re right, a shorter nose would make it more true to the original and fit the car better in general.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    From a google image search I completely see the mid-50’s Toyota Crown styling.

    However, my first thought after seeing the lead picture of the front was that it looks just like the “Ford 49” concept car from 2001, with a chrome grille and bumper added.

    Then when I saw the side profile it looked like something British. The closest I’ve found is a 1960-62 Vauxhall Cresta, which even has the reverse C-pillar, but not suicide doors.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Spectacular!

  • avatar
    Dan R

    Finally, a real car. Like the Jaguaresque seats.

  • avatar
    la834

    The exterior styling is a bit convoluted – from the B pillar back it looks like it’s from 1959, as does the grille, but the front door is obviously that of a modern car, as is the entire interior. Still, it’s cool.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Its kinda like they blew the budget on the exterior design, and had to save money on the interior by not making it retro and bespoke as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

        “Its kinda like they blew the budget on the exterior design, and had to save money on the interior by not making it retro and bespoke as well.”

        See also: 2002-2005 Ford Thunderbird…

  • avatar
    rolando

    Love it! Hard to imagine a Toyota with Style!

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    That looks… unfortunate. Something is just way off in the proportions and detailing. It’s almost but not quite cool.

    Is that the very first example of “iPad stuck to the dash”, many years before the iPad was invented? Newton stuck to the dash? Is it an early NAV system? My ’01 Range Rover had one that had a screen that looked like that, but in the center stack. Not a touchscreen I assume? Looks to have the same-old Lexus stereo so no integration of that, most likely.

    That orange Lexus wood with the cream leather is just. Blond wood or dark wood would have been fine, but that, just no.

    Have to give Corey credit for this one – this is a car that I had absolutely no idea existed, and that is a very, very rare thing indeed. How big is this thing? Can’t really tell if it is LS-sized or Corolla sized.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “How big is this thing? Can’t really tell if it is LS-sized or Corolla sized.”

      It’s definitely a very oddly proportioned car, google Toyota Brevis or Toyota Progres to where this was derived from. These are all platform-mates with the gen 1 Altezza/IS300. So imagine a car the width of an IS300 with maybe a bit more length, and more height.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I thought I was seeing a 1959 Toyopet. Taking one on trade in 1963 gave my poor Father an ulcer. Had he not known the Qvale’s for years, that car would’ve had an inventory birthday in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Probably be an easy sale if we had it today. My memory of it was that it wasn’t a bad car. It just looked like a shrunken ’56 Ford.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    I like it. Pity it’s RHD.

  • avatar
    MyerShift

    I find this weirdly appealing.

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