Abandoned History: The Early 2000s WiLL Project, for The Youths (Part III)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
abandoned history the early 2000s will project for the youths part iii

Several Japanese companies embarked on the WiLL sub-brand exercise at the dawn of the new millennium. Miscellaneous WiLL-branded products were introduced alongside a funky new car offering from Toyota, the WiLL Vi.

The baguette-themed retro sedan was an immediate failure amongst the youthful consumers WiLL was supposed to attract, so Toyota had a very quick rethink. Meet VS.

The Vi’s fate was sealed after just over a year in production. Though Vi was built through December 2001, VS production began in April that year. Toned down and altogether more sporty and serious-looking than Vi, VS was thoroughly modern in its design. No retro cutesy themes or French cues to be found, VS went after a different youthful customer: The kind who said “That’s tight yo!” but in Japanese.

Based on the E120 Corolla platform (like the future Matrix) that was new for 2000, the 2001 VS was curiously introduced at that year’s Los Angeles Motor Show. The right-hand-drive VS was not intended for North American distribution, but Toyota decided Americans should look at it anyway. VVC drew design inspiration for this new VS, apparently, from the 1980s Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft. Do with that information what you will.

A few months after the LA Auto Show, sales began in Japan. The introduction was accompanied by a vigorous ad campaign that featured the very un-cutesy British electronic band Underworld.

This time, WiLL gave its customers trim, engine, and transmission options and did not foist upon them a singular specification with a small engine and automatic transmission. Three basic trim levels topped out at a premium VS with a sporty body kit, fog lamps, alloys, and a paddle-shift automatic. Engines were all of inline-four specification, with displacements of 1.5 or 1.8 liters. Two different 1.8s were available: a VVT-I that offered 140 horsepower, or the 180-horse VVTL-I from the Celica. A typical four-speed automatic transmission was available, but the sporty WiLL customer chose the six-speed manual. All examples were front-drive.

All those goodies meant the VS cost more than the smaller Vi, both in the showroom and for the purposes of the taxman. However, unlike the unloved Vi, VS garnered much popularity in Japan. Fans liked its concept-like styling and higher level of equipment than offered on Corolla. But as is common, supposed popularity does not always translate into sales. The VS remained in production for exactly three years and wrapped up in April 2004. Toyota noted 14,965 total examples produced – not stunning.

By the time the VS was halfway through its run, however, the folks at WiLL management and VCC decided to have one more go at Vi under a different naming scheme. But the third and final WiLL was most definitely the worst of the three. We’ll talk about that next time.

[Images: Toyota]

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  • Chuckrs Chuckrs on Sep 24, 2021

    Elon is PO'ed at Jeff B's rent-seeking lawfare in the billionaires space race. So he decided to get even by doing his own rent-seeking in the EV development race. That'll fix him. Actually, it will only 'fix' the rest of us.

    • Chuckrs Chuckrs on Sep 24, 2021

      Oops. I wondered where that comment went. I'll leave it to you to figure where it should have appeared.

  • CoastieLenn CoastieLenn on Sep 24, 2021

    The only car in this series that I actually like.

  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.
  • ToolGuy From the listing: "Oil changes every April & October (full-synth), during which I also swap out A/S (not the stock summer MPS3s) and Blizzak winter tires on steelies, rotating front/back."• While ToolGuy applauds the use of full synthetic motor oil,• ToolGuy absolutely abhors the waste inherent in changing out a perfectly good motor oil every 6 months.The Mobil 1 Extended Performance High Mileage I run in our family fleet has a change interval of 20,000 miles. (Do I go 20,000 miles before changing it? No.) But this 2014 Focus has presumably had something like 16 oil changes in 36K miles, which works out to a 2,250 mile average change interval. Complete waste of time, money and perfectly good natural gas which could have gone to a higher and better use.Mobil 1 also says their oil miraculously expires at 1 year, and ToolGuy has questions. Is that one year in the bottle? One year in the vehicle? (Have I gone longer than a year in some of our vehicles? Yes, I have. Did I also add Lucas Oil 10131 Pure Synthetic Oil Stabilizer during that time, in case you are concerned about the additive package losing efficacy? Yes, I might have -- as far as you know.)TL;DR: I aim for annual oil changes and sometimes miss that 'deadline' by a few months; 12,000 miles between oil changes bothers me not at all, if you are using a quality synthetic which you should be anyway.