Toyota 86 philosophy - Interview with Tetsuya Tada

This time we will not go with specs listing or shiny pictures. This is for your reading pleasure.. A few journalists had a chance to talk with the chief engineer - Sport Vehicle Mangement Division from Toyota Motor Corporation - Tetsuya Tada! He is the guy that is responsible for the development of Toyota 86, that probably will become the dream car for many of us. The interview during Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival was as good as his presentation of 86. We give you some excerpts from the interview, maybe to calm down the drivers that thrive for power, turbo, awd or electronics, that Tada considers boring.

Tetsuya Tada

    “Mr. Toyoda (Akio Toyada, president of Toyota) almost continuously participated in the development of this car. Not as President, but as a test driver. Usually, when they say that the president of a company is test driving a prototype car, then it is mostly ceremonial. Mr. Toyoda’s participation was not simply ceremonial. He was a serious test driver and had some pretty tough comments. In some phases of the development. he said: “If that is the best you can do, why not quit now.” One by one, we overcame these problems.”

    “When Naruse-san (Hiromu Naruse, Toyota’s chief test driver) was still alive, he participated in the tests many times and gave us some quite harsh comments, like: ‘This is a miserable car. You are doing very poorly.’

    We tested this car at the Nürburgring. Naruse-san died very close to the Nürburgring, and each time we testdrove the car later, we made sure to pass by the memorial of Naruse-san. We tried to keep Naruse-san’s spirit  alive.”

     “We visited with car enthusiasts in Japan, America and Europe. The feedback we received was almost always the same. They said there are a lot of sports cars with high horsepower that are very fast, but these are not the sports cars that they want to have. They want small compact cars that are controllable, that they can tune themselves. However, that kind of sports car is not on the market. Therefore, these sports car enthusiasts are forced to continue to use older cars from a long time ago, because there is no new alterative on the market.”

    “We also went to competitors and asked them: “Why do you focus on fast cars?” The response almost always was: ‘Actually, we really don’t want to develop these kinds of cars. But once we bring a plan to develop that car to our board, the first question the directors of the company would ask is: How much faster is that car compared to what the competition has? How many seconds faster around the Nürburgring? What about the acceleration? These questions always come up because numerical performance is the easiest to understand.

    Now how did we get the permission from our board? The only reason was that among the directors, there was a person called Akio Toyoda, who is a car enthusiast himself.”

 “There is a Toyota standard for designing new cars. This standard was to a large extent ignored. Why did we do this? There are cars that are accepted by a lot of people. Practical cars that are easy to drive and that do not break easily. These are standard Toyota cars. The 86 is not a car like that. We had to change our design approach for this car. We may have to do this again for other cars.

    It is impossible to develop a sports car that appeals to everybody. If you try to please everybody, the car would be half-baked for everybody, and not particularly good for anybody.  This car is not developed by a committee, or by consensus.”

    “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.”

    “To make the car customizable, we did away with computers to the highest extent possible. A lot of the cars on the market today are controlled by computers. People have the feeling that they are driven by the car instead of them driving the car. That makes for a boring experience. That is why we decided to go back to the basics of car making. With the low center of gravity, the driver now is in personal touch with the road again.”

    “30 to 40 years ago, there was an AE86, and the price of this car was 1.5 million yen. At the time, that was the starting salary was for a university graduate. We kept that in mind when we priced the car. In the meantime, there has been a rise in prices, and the starting salaries rose also.”

Tada Tetsuya and his project: Tada Tetsuya & Toyota FT-86 Concept

Tada Tetsuya and Toyota FT-86 II Concept

Tada Tetsuya at Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival, Toyota 86

Tada Tetsuya testing Toyota 86